Is Vitamin C all it’s cracked up to be?

by Deborah Rosenstein, School of Public Health

Happy February! To me, the beginning of February means three things:

1) It is temporally appropriate to watch the classic, Groundhog Day movie starring Bill Murray (currently streaming on Netflix!)

2) We are slowly, but surely working our way to warmer weather

3) We are well into the dreaded cold and flu season

While #1 and #2 are certainly exciting in their own right, it seems a bit more apropos to discuss #3. If you’re looking to protect yourself against the flu, getting vaccinated is a good option. Luckily, as University of Michigan students, we don’t have to go too far. UHS offers the flu shot for $42 (or covered in full for some insurance). You can even request an appointment online through the Patient Portal.

Staving off the cold is a bit trickier as no vaccine currently exists. For years, I’ve heard that Vitamin C is the best defense against the common cold, and for years, I never questioned the validity of what seemed like sage advice. Lately (you can blame my being in graduate school), I have been a bit more skeptical of where we obtain our health advice. Did a doctor ever tell me this? Did I hear it on the news? Is this advice passed down from generation to generation? Is there any science or evidence to support this claim?

I am a numbers girl by nature, so I decided to investigate the data behind the age-old Vitamin C advice. Of course, in the age of the Internet it is of no surprise that someone had already done the legwork for me.

Information is Beautiful has created a wonderful interactive chart, which looks at the scientific evidence for various supplements (data sourced from PubMed). You can sort by condition (such as infections if you are looking at colds) or you can look at everything all at once. Each supplement is in a “balloon” and the higher the balloon is to the top of the chart, the stronger the scientific evidence. Best of all, you can read the evidence yourself by clicking on the balloon.

Information Is Beautiful / David McCandless

Information Is Beautiful / David McCandless

The Vitamin C verdict…

When it comes to colds, it seems like Vitamin C is not the cure it is purported to be. In fact, it has conflicting evidence as to its efficacy in curing colds. Claims for Echinacea seem more promising. While completely unscientific, I have personally found Echinacea tea to work wonders for a cold.

But the apparent (and perhaps surprising) overall winner when it comes to colds – Zinc. Who knew?

My new weekend to-do list: get a flu vaccine, stock up on Zinc, watch Groundhog Day, and then I can consider myself ready to tackle the rest of winter.


Quick Tip of The Day:

Battling the winter blues? Whether it’s stress, busy-schedules or the weather that’s got you out of whack, try a simple deep breathing exercise in order to help calm your nerves. Take 5 deep breaths whenever you start to tense up or lose your cool. Visual imagery can help with relaxation as well! 

Body Biology

Pop culture's "ideal" body changes throughout time...better just to love yourself now as you are!Image courtesy of peppergrass on flickr and reproduced under Creative Commons 2.0

Pop culture’s “ideal” body changes throughout time…better just to love yourself now as you are!
Image courtesy of peppergrass on flickr and reproduced under Creative Commons 2.0

by Kelly Bissonette, Body-Peace Corps

Fact: There are 3 billion people who don’t look like supermodels and only 8 that do.

Fiction: If you worked out, ate healthy, used specific products, and wore designer clothes you could look like a supermodel too.

 This far from little lie is what the media has conditioned us to believe so that we feel the need to buy their products.  The truth is that we all have different genetics that make our bodies look the way they do.  And that’s a good thing!  We don’t all look like models for a reason.  If you can remember back to biology 101, genetic diversity is important for survival and adaptability.  It’s easy to get caught up in the social pressures that we are bombarded by, but one way to check yourself back into reality is to remember that we are the way we are for a reason.  Perhaps the reason one individual may have larger hips than another is to help her carry a child and give birth.  This is an evolved trait that has been adapted over many years to increase the survival of offspring.  When you think about it, that is truly amazing.  Why would we ever want to downplay this awesomeness that has made us who we are today?  So let’s take a stand.  I encourage you to look deeper into media messages and then consider if you want to support this message by buying their product.

To read more from Body Peace Corps, visit the Body Peace Blog here!

Poll: What keeps you up at night?

In a recent survey of UM students, 75% of respondents reported that they didn’t sleep enough to feel rested on five or more days per week. So we want to know…what keeps YOU up at night?

Sexpertise 2013! January 23-25 at Michigan League

Join us for Sexpertise 2013
January 23-25 in the Michigan League!

sexpertise-banner 2

Why talk about sexuality?
How can I communicate what I want?
How does the media influence how we treat each other?
Is Fifty Shades of Grey for real?
Find the answers to these and other questions at Sexpertise 2013!

Sexpertise brings 3 days of events on sexuality and relationships to the Michigan League. All events are free and open to the public. Sexpertise events showcase leading researchers, inspiring community members and talented U-M peer educators from Sexperteam to bring you the latest in sexuality and relationship information.

For more information regarding this event please visit

10 ways to relieve stress in Ann Arbor

by Lindsay Miller, School of Public Health

1. Go for a peaceful walk in the Arb.

2. Drop in for a guided meditation session with the Ann Arbor Open Meditation group.

3. Relax at the UM Wellness Zone.

4. Enjoy a soothing cup of tea from TeaHaus on 4th or Crazy Wisdom Tea Room on Main.

5. Take a stroll through the UM Museum of Art and find works of art that make you feel good.

6. Treat yourself to a massage. Arbor Wellness has student discounts!

7. Find a peaceful spot on campus and do deep breathing exercises.

8. Attend one of MiTalk‘s many meetings and workshops about managing anxiety, procrastination, and more.

9. See a funny or interesting film at the Michigan theater.

10. Give yourself a break! Everyone gets overwhelmed at some point or another. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it!