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Vitamin C supplementation reduces the odds of developing a common cold in Republic of Korea Army recruits: randomised controlled trial
  1. Tae Kyung Kim1,2,
  2. H R Lim3 and
  3. J S Byun4
  1. 1 Department of Public Health, Yonsei University, Seoul, South Korea
  2. 2 Department of Health policy & Management, Armed Forces Medical Command, Seongnam, South Korea
  3. 3 Department of Clinical Medicine, Armed Forces Medical School, Daejeon, South Korea
  4. 4 Department of Inspection, Armed Forces Medical Command, Seongnam, South Korea
  1. Correspondence to Tae Kyung Kim, Department of Public Health, Yonsei University, Seoul 120-752, South Korea; armytk08{at}


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.

  • common cold
  • URI
  • high doses
  • military personnel
  • vitamin c

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request. Data are available upon reasonable request. The data used in this study is proprietary to the AFMC, Republic of Korea.

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Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request. Data are available upon reasonable request. The data used in this study is proprietary to the AFMC, Republic of Korea.

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  • Contributors TKK, a doctoral student in public health at Yonsei University, Seoul, Republic of Korea, designed the study, researched the data, performed statistical analyses and wrote the manuscript. JB, HL and WS contributed to the discussion and reviewed and edited the manuscript. TKK is the guarantor of this work and, as such, takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis. The English language in this article has been checked by Joan J from Editage Writers.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Disclaimer The opinions of the authors of this paper are personal. It does not represent the opinion of the ROK Armed Forces or Department of Defense.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.