Vitamin C supplementation reduces the odds of developing a common cold in Republic of Korea Army recruits: randomised controlled trial

BMJ Mil Health. 2020 Mar 5;bmjmilitary-2019-001384. doi: 10.1136/bmjmilitary-2019-001384. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Introduction: The Republic of Korea (ROK) military has a high incidence of respiratory diseases at training centres. Vitamin C has been reported to reduce the incidence of colds. For the purpose of preventing soldiers' respiratory diseases, this study aimed to investigate whether vitamin C intake can prevent common colds in the ROK Army soldiers.

Methods: This was a randomised, placebo-controlled, and double-blind trial of soldiers who enlisted in the Korea Army Training Centre for 30 days from 12 February to 13 March 2018. The study participants were divided into groups (vitamin C vs placebo). The military medical records were searched to determine whether the participants had a common cold. Multiple logistic regression analysis was performed to identify the association between vitamin C intake and diagnosis of common colds. In addition, subgroup analysis on the relationship between vitamin C intake and common cold according to smoking status, training camp and physical rank was conducted.

Results: A total of 1444 participants were included in our study. Of these participants, 695 received vitamin C (6000 mg/day, vitamin C group), while 749 participants received placebo (0 mg/day, placebo group). The vitamin C group had a 0.80-fold lower risk of getting a common cold than did the placebo group. Subgroup analyses showed that this effect was stronger among subjects in camp A, among never smokers and among those in physical rank 3.

Conclusion: Vitamin C intake provides evidence to suggest that reducing the common colds in Korean Army soldiers. Our results may serve as a basis for introducing military healthcare policies that can provide vitamin C supplementation for military personnel in basic military training.

Keywords: URI; common cold; high doses; military personnel; vitamin c.