Vitamin C and the common cold: a second MZ Cotwin control study

Acta Genet Med Gemellol (Roma). 1981;30(4):249-55. doi: 10.1017/s0001566000006450.


Self-reported cold data have been analyzed for 95 pairs of identical twins aged 14-64 who took part in a double-blind trial of vitamin C tablets. One member of each twin pair took a tablet containing 1 g vitamin C and the other took a well-matched placebo each day for 100 days. In the total sample there was no effect of vitamin C in preventing colds. However, subdivision of the data showed a significant preventive effect of the placebo in the 51 pairs living together and an equal and opposite preventive effect of the vitamin C in the 44 pairs living apart. The placebo effect in the pairs living together may be attributed to the large proportion who wrongly perceived which treatment they were taking. The reduction of colds in the vitamin C group of the pairs living apart was about 20%. There were significant correlations between cold symptoms reported and the personality trait of neuroticism. No side effects of substantive changes in serum biochemistry could be attributed to the vitamin C dose.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Ascorbic Acid / therapeutic use*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Common Cold / drug therapy*
  • Diseases in Twins
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pregnancy
  • Twins, Monozygotic


  • Ascorbic Acid