The many health benefits of Vitamin C
Studies using health beneficial vitamin C have been negatively slanted - After first promoting the health benefits of consuming Vitamin C in the 1940's, the medical/pharmaceutical industry then realized that its use would seriously cut into their profits, and so campaigned against it. Studies discounting the benefits of Vitamin C used insufficient amounts or procedures were not followed.
Reduces Heart disease
Antioxidant Vitamin C protects against oxidation damage of arterial walls
✔ Strengthens the collagen structure of arteries
✔ Lowers total cholesterol
✔ Lowers blood pressure
✔ Inhibits platelet aggregation
Atherosclerosis is a vitamin C deficiency disease - Although eventually harmful, oxidized cholesterol deposition in artery walls provides a temporary, life-saving repair until access to vitamin C allows arterial damage to be repaired
In one of the largest and most detailed studies of Vitamin C, UCLA doctors showed that taking vitamin C could produce an increase in longevity - of 5 to 7 years for men, and 1 to 3 years for women. The study, based on 11,384 individuals , found that as little as 300 mg. of C extended lifespan by 6 years.
JE et al, 1992).Vitamin C intake and
mortality among a sample of the
- Researchers have demonstrated that vitamin C slows down telomere shortening - by 52-62 % in a controlled experiment. Telomeres are the end caps of DNA that shorten with many generations and limit the number of replications of DNA.
Furumoto K, et al, Age-dependent telomere shortening is slowed down by enrichment of intracellular vitamin C via suppression of oxidative stress, Life Sciences, 1998.
Reduced risk of death
20,000 men and women aged 45 -79 followed 4 years. Just a 50 mg increase in vitamin C consumption was able to reduce the relative all-cause mortality rate by 20% - regardless of person's age, cholesterol count, or blood pressure. Those with the highest levels of C had even greater reductions in the risk of death from all causes
Prof Kay-Tee Khaw et al. Relation
between plasma ascorbic acid and mortality in men and women in EPIC-Norfolk
prospective study: a prospective population study.
The Lancet - 3 March 2001 (Vol. 357, Issue 9257, Pages
Enhances healing of wounds, burns and fractures
C's ability to facilitate the healing of wounds, fractures and burns is no doubt attributed to its role in the synthesis of collagen (Stone, 1972)
Used as an aid in withdrawal from drug addictions
Narcotics, alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, and sugar
Protects against pollution and cigarette smoke
Reduces the risk of cataracts
Decrease in Non-Respiratory Disease
30% decrease in amount of illness of non-respiratory disease in subjects receiving 1 g AA/day, relative to those receiving placebo
Improves Psychological Disorders
Vitamin C has also been used for psychological disorders, including schizophrenia, depression, and paranoia
- Helps form SEROTONIN - Vitamin C required to convert amino acid tryptophan to 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), the precursor for the mood / brain hormone, SEROTONIN
Reduces effects of stress
Vitamin C counters free radical damage caused by stress
Vitamin C fed to rats undergoing stress prevented the expected increase in cortisol levels and other stress-related hormones -CORTISOL is a “fight or flight” hormone released by the adrenal glands in response to stress, and allows us to spring into action when we sense danger. CORTISOL is responsible for relaying the news of stress via the bloodstream to all parts of the body and mind, but frequent exposure to high levels of stress hormones exhausts the body's physical resources, impairs learning and memory, and makes people susceptible to depression.
Vitamin C is required for the synthesis of stress hormones EPINEPHRINE (ADRENALINE) and NOREPINEPHRINE (NORADRENALINE) - Secreted by the adrenal medulla in a fight or flight response to a stressful situation
- Vitamin C stimulates adrenal medulla gland to release stress hormones - norepinephrine, from which EPINEPHRINE is synthesized, and dopamine from adrenal medulla's chromaffin cells. These are neuroendocrine cells that link the nervous and endocrine systems.
Vitamin C is needed for the DOPAMINE to NOREPINEPHRINE step of the amino acid tyrosine to EPINEPHRINE pathway - the enzyme PNMT (see chart below) is only found in the cytosol of adrenal medullary cells.
- EPINEPHRINE also plays a role in blood pressure regulation -part of an auxiliary electron transport system for the last step of ALDOSTERONE synthesis; ALDOSTERONE is a hormone involved in regulating blood pressure, blood pH and blood volume.
Improves Asthma-related Breathing Disorders
Experts on asthma tell us that some of the reasons for the rise in asthma in our society are - the increased stress on the immune system, earlier weaning and earlier introduction of solid foods to infants, use of food additives, more air pollution, and genetic manipulation of plants resulting in food components with greater allergenic tendencies.
- Psychologically stressed infants more susceptible - when high psychological stress experienced in utero or shortly after birth
- Reduces bronchial spasm - 1g C /day reduces tendency of bronchial passages to go into spasm.
Zuskin E et al, Byssinosis and airway responses due to exposure to textile dust. Lung 1976; Bucca C et al, Effect of vitamin C on histamine bronchial responsiveness of patients with allergic rhinitis. Ann Allergy, 1990.
- Prevents exercise-induced asthma -double-blind trial - 500 mg C/day for 2 days prevented attacks
Schachter EN et al, A. The attenuation of exercise-induced bronchospasm by ascorbic acid. Ann Allergy 1982.
Decrease in Respiratory Disease
31% decrease in respiratory illness per subject receiving 200 mg AA/ day - compared to those receiving a placebo
63% decrease in illness for subjects receiving 1g AA day
Ritzel G, Ascorbic Acid and Infections of the Respiratory tract, Helv. med. Acta 28: 63-68(1961).
30% decrease in illness when subjects received 1g AA/day plus an additional 3 g day for first 3 days of a cold
Charleston SS, Clegg KM. Ascorbic acid and the common cold. Lancet 1972;1(7765):1401-1402.
58% decrease when subjects received 1 g AA/day
30% decrease in illness for younger children receiving 1 g /day, and a 36% decrease for older children receiving 2 g /day
Very little protective effect was observed when a suspension containing large numbers of cold viruses was instilled into the nasal cavities of subjects receiving 3 g AA /day - Presumably the protective effect of AA has its limits.
Increases IQ in children
It has helped to increase the IQ of children
May help Fatigue and Slow Metabolism
Due to stimulation of thyroid hormone production
Aids in the absorption of inorganic iron; also, iron mobilization from spleen depends on C
Back problems / Disk herniation
Helps prevent back problems by preserving the integrity of intervertebral disks - Our donut-like, spinal column disks have a tough, gristle-like exterior and a soft cushioning interior. Insufficient vitamin C compromises disc integrity. The tough exterior wears down over time resulting in a pinhole through which bending movement can push out some of the soft interior material -called a disc herniation. Squished-out material touching a spinal column nerve can cause severe pain.
Disk Lesion Surgery Avoided - 1964 - Greenwood J, Jr. -500 patients - "A significant number of patients with disc lesions were able to avoid surgery by the use of large doses (1g/day) of vitamin C". Effectiveness of ascorbic acid in controlling vertebral disc lesions is likely attributed to its essential role in the synthesis of collagen
Polio treated with vitamin C
Dr. Klenner handled 60 polio cases during an epidemic in Dr. Klenner's home state - "These patients presented all or almost all of these signs and symptoms: fever of 101 to 104.6 degrees F., headache, pain at the back of the eyes, conjunctivitis, scarlet throat; pain between the shoulders, the back of the neck, one or more extremity, the lumbar back; nausea, vomiting and constipation."
"The treatment employed was Vitamin C in massive doses. The initial dose was 1000 to 2000 milligrams (1 to 2 grams) depending on age. Children up to four years received the injections intramuscularly . . . the temperature curve was adopted as the guide for additional medication. Temperature response after the second hour was taken to indicate the second one or two gram injection. If there was a drop in fever after two hours, two more hours was allowed before the second dose. This schedule was followed for 24 hours. After this time the fever was consistently down, so the drug was given 1 to 2 grams every six hours for the next 48 hours. All patients were clinically well after 72 hours. After three patients had a relapse the drug was continued for at least 48 hours longer, one to two grams every eight to twelve hours."
"Where spinal taps were performed, it was the rule to find a reversion of the fluid to normal after the second day of treatment." ( Note: No paralysis developed in any of the 60 cases. )
Reduces risk of cancer and metastases
Clinical, experimental, and population studies have shown that Vitamin C (especially in aqueous solutions) can reduce cancer rates - A high Vitamin C intake reduces the risk for virtually all forms of cancer, including cancers of the lung, colon, breast, cervix, esophagus, oral cavity, and pancreas.
- C inhibits formation of carcinogenic nitrosoamines
- Protects Lymphocyte (type of WBC) DNA - A misleading test-tube study published in Nature indicated 500 mgs of C may damage lymphocyte DNA, which could cause cancer. However, other studies reveal that C actually protects against DNA damage to lymphocytes, with its effect greatly enhanced by bioflavonoids, which usually accompany vitamin C in nature. Five subsequent human high-dose C (up to 5g / day) could not find evidence that vitamin C induces gene mutations.
- Reduces Metasases - increased collagen production increases the resistance of tissues to invasion by metastases and infiltration by malignant tumors. (Dr. Ewan Cameron, Dr. Linus Pauling, “Oncology”, 1973)
Liquid Preparations Seem to be more effective against cancer than dry doses - Dr. Ewan Cameron was a former Scottish surgeon, who later became Medical Director and Senior Research Professor at the Linus Pauling Institute, working with Dr. Linus Pauling until his death in 1991. While working in the Scottish hospital, his patients diagnosed with cancer were often subject to waiting months before a scheduled surgery. Dr. Cameron decided to place diagnosed cancer patients on vitamin C rather than do nothing. He collaborated with Dr. Pauling, who advised a 10g dose, but his patients objected to taking the several large tablets required. Dr. Cameron's pharmacist suggested that a liquid preparation of AA be more acceptable. Conversion of AA, to a non-sour liquid was accomplished by adding baking soda (Also added were sorbitol as a preservative / sweetener, and cherry syrup for flavor). Cameron's patients in rural Scotland were sent back home with a several week supply of the concocted AA mixture in two brown one liter bottles, with refrigeration recommended. Dr. Cameron reported dramatic improvements in median cancer survival. In addition to much longer survival, some patients experienced protracted remissions - there were survival plateaus observed in cancers which had been uniformly fatal.
Constance Tsao, a researcher at the Pauling Institute, carried out a substantiating experiment under Pauling's guidance
Four groups of identical mice were given human breast cancer. The diet of each group was different:
Group 1: Given standard food
Group 2: Given large amounts of Vitamin C in food
Group 3: Given large amounts of Vitamin C in drinking water
Group 4:Received food with Vitamin C and copper salts (known to markedly accelerate the oxidation of Vitamin C).
The result: only the aqueous Vitamin C was of significant benefit - and the mice receiving copper salts vitamin C lived longer than the rats receiving vitamin C in food, which were not benefitted at all.
Dr. Moertel's Clinical Trial - A physician at the Mayo Clinic, Dr. Charles Moertel, then reported a clinical trial in cancer patients which was purportedly designed to confirm or refute Cameron's claims of cancer patient benefit from vitamin C.Moertel took advanced cancer patients, many with advanced colon cancer who had failed chemotherapy (a devastating therapy that suppresses the immune system to the point where vitamin C would be of little benefit), and subjected them to a randomized clinical trial. Patients either received 1 gram of vitamin C three times daily in the dry state, or patients received a look-alike placebo to use as a comparison. The results: no improvement in survival. Moertel wrote a prominent paper for the literature which asserted vitamin C was useless in advanced cancer patients.
Dr. Cameron's Theory was that large amounts of C may stimulate the immune system by simulating an infection -Vitamin C (ascorbate) is oxidized to dehydroascorbate (DHAA) when it stops a free radical. For body homeostasis, under normal circumstances DHAA is converted back into ascorbate by the enzyme dehydroascorbate reductase. Therefore, the presence of progressively increasing concentrations of vitamin C breakdown products simulates (1) major infection or (2) some other major deterioration of normal homeostatic reduction of oxidized vitamin C, which is the method by which vitamin C is restored after losing its ability to absorb a free radical. We now know that vitamin C is chemically unstable in aqueous solutions and progressively undergoes oxidative change. Therefore it seems quite possible that a rise in oxidation by-products of vitamin C from the employment of such as Dr. Cameron's pharmacological AA mixture used to ingest the vitamin C may be the alert signal that a serious attack on the vital integrity of the body was in force, and that an immune activation was the appropriate adaptive response. Pauling, himself, seems to have suspected this hypothesis as representing an integrating theory.
In summary - the reports by Cameron may well have been valid, in spite of
Moertel's claims to the contrary. The key to the discrepancy lies in the
methodology -i.e aqueous compared to dry doses of C .
However, Cameron's patients may well have benefitted more from the immune stimulating properties of ascorbate breakdown products than from the vitamin C itself.
Dr. Cameron's 1976 Clinical Trial ofVitamin C therapy for terminal cancer - discussed in the book “Cancer and Vitamin C”, by Dr. Ewan Cameron, M.D. and Dr. Linus Pauling, Ph.D.
A dosage of 10 grams a day of Vitamin C was given to 100 terminally ill ("untreatable") cancer patients. A control group of 1,000 terminal cancer patients(matched for sex, age and type of cancer) received no Vitamin C.
The results of this study were rather significant. The average survival rate of the vitamin C patients, at the time of the reporting of the study in 1978, was 4.2 times larger than that of the control group. Moreover, the degree of subjective pain was much less and quality of life much greater for the vitamin C treated patients. Perhaps most striking was the fact that 16 of the 100 Vitamin C treated patients were still alive in 1980, all of the 1,000 controls had died.
Vitamin C needed by Immune System WBCs, but Glucose and Vitamin C compete for cell entry - In the 1970's, Dr. Linus Pauling found out that vitamin C was needed by WBCs to be able to phagocytize viruses and bacteria. White blood cells require 50 times higher concentration inside the cell as outside, so they have to accumulate vitamin C.
Glucose and C compete, but the playing field is not equal - Glucose and Vitamin C have similar chemical structures, and compete for INSULIN pumps to enable INSULIN-mediated cell entry. However, the evolutionary "fight-or-flight" response favors glucose entry into cells at the expense of vitamin C. If there is more glucose around, there is going to be less vitamin C allowed into the cell. Blood sugar of a mere 120 reduces the phagocytic index by 75%, slowing the immune system down to a crawl.
References / Credits
An excellent article by physicist Gary Wade on Vitamin C studies used against Cancer and AIDS:
The work and professional publications of Dr. Fred R. Klenner, M.D., former chief of staff at Memorial Hospital in Reidsville, NC, has provided us with much supporting evidence for the beneficial uses of Vitamin C.
Book “Cancer and Vitamin C”, by Dr. Ewan Cameron, M.D. and Dr. Linus Pauling, Ph.D.
Stone I (1972 )“The Healing Factor: Vitamin C Against Disease”