MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Vitamins such as zinc and vitamin C are often seen as cold and flu-fighting supplements that, when taken in high doses, can help prevent or shorten sickness. But research doesn’t necessarily prove that to be the case.

Dr. Larry Richmond, a family physician at the Park Nicolett Clinic in Plymouth, cited one study done in the 1980s that suggested zinc helps shorten or prevent symptoms, but he says the study itself is flawed and it hasn’t been repeated, which is usually what he needs to see in order to recommend something.

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Vitamin C is necessary to keep immune systems strong but, Richmond says, most people get enough of it in their diets and there aren’t proven benefits in going beyond that in order to prevent getting sick.

Some studies, however, as reported by Harvard Health, suggest vitamin C can shorten the symptoms by about a day.

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When it comes to proven methods, Richmond recommends the textbook stuff: sleep, diet and annual checkups.

“There are plenty of vaccines that can help you stay healthy this time of year,” Richmond said. “If you have a health condition like asthma, diabetes and others, there are immunizations that can help prevent pneumonia and other illnesses.”

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He says supplements aren’t harmful, but to get the most value, a better diet will do. Leafy greens and fruit are both great sources of Vitamin C and also provide other necessary nutrients.