Without vitamin C, any one of us would die within a year.
Why? Vitamin C is a vitamin. The word vita is Latin for life. All vitamins are essential to life. In the classic desert island scenario, vitamin C is the one to pack.
A remarkable number of functions require vitamin C. Among these are immunity, stress response, antioxidant and anti-toxin functions, the nervous system, blood coagulation, and cardiovascular health.
It is necessary for the formation of bones, teeth, and cartilage. It is also essential in the healing of wounds, bruises, fractures, and capillary damage. And, it is needed for healthy skin.
It has been said that vitamin C has 1,000 functions we already know and possibly another 20,000 that we don’t know yet.
The late double Nobel Laureate and vitamin C guru Linus Pauling, PhD, called the vitamin a “panacea” – a cure-all substance.3
TOPIC: Vitamin C
During the Ice Ages, malnutrition and lack of vitamins was a constant threat. The ancient bones show vitamin intake was close to zero. A lack of vitamin C was the greatest problem. The inevitable result for many was scurvy, the vitamin C deficiency disease. Thus, for a number of generations, this disease was the largest single threat to the survival of the human race.– Matthias Rath, MD, Eradicating Heart Disease
We Can’t Live Without It!
• Why Is Vitamin C So Important?
• What Are Its Benefits?
• Are You Getting Enough?
• What Is Subscurvy?
Read The Latest About This Incredible Vitamin. Look Inside….
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INTRO paragraph –BOXED WITH COLORED BACKGROUND
Vitamin C: We Can’t Live Without It!
Without vitamin C, it’s estimated that any human would die within a year. How is that possible? Vitamin C is a vitamin. The word vita is Latin for life. All vitamins are essential to life. In the classic desert island scenario, vitamin C is the one to take. The health benefits of vitamin C are many.
A remarkable number of physical functions are affected by vitamin C. Among these are immune function, stress response, antioxidant and anti-toxin functions, the nervous system, blood coagulation, and cardiovascular health. Vitamin C is necessary for the formation of bones, teeth, and cartilage. It is also important in the healing of wounds, bruises, fractures, and capillary damage. And, it is needed for healthy skin.
It has been said that vitamin C has 1,000 functions we already know and possibly another 20,000 that we haven’t discovered yet. The late Nobel Laureate and vitamin C proponent Linus Pauling, PhD, called the vitamin a “panacea” – a cure-all substance.
***Vitamin C Keeps Us Together.
This is the literal Truth. The presence of vitamin C is imperative to the health of every tissue and organ in our body. This is because the primary biochemical function of vitamin C is the synthesis of collagen.2 Collagen is the body’s most important structural substance. It is a proteinous glue that supports and holds the tissues and organs together.
Collagen comprises about one-third of the body’s total protein weight, and is its most extensive tissue system. Collagen provides bones with toughness and flexibility while preventing brittleness. It strengthens the arteries and veins, supports the muscles, and toughens the ligaments. It supplies scar tissue for healing wounds and keeps our skin tissues soft, firm, and youthful. Not surprisingly, collagen is intimately connected with the entire aging process. Quite simply, without vitamin C, the body simply disintegrates.
In fact, this disintegration has a name. It is called scurvy. All vitamins have deficiency diseases associated with them.FN Scurvy is the deficiency disease of vitamin C, and it has caused the deaths of untold millions.FN Without sufficient vitamin C, the body is unable to produce collagen. Gums bleed, leading to loss of teeth; bones become brittle and fracture; weakened arteries rupture and hemorrhage; muscles are useless. Wounds and sores never heal. As we have noted, eventually, the afflicted person dies. In essence, they fall apart.
By the late 1700s, James Lind, an Englishman (and later a ship’s surgeon), had conducted the first known controlled clinical study. His results demonstrated that men sick with “the scurvy” would recover rapidly when given fresh citrus. This eventually lead to British sailors eating limes, resulting in the sobriquet “Limeys”.FN Today in Western countries, scurvy is rare.
***Are We Falling Apart?
In science there is a measurement called the JND, Just Noticeable Difference. In 1972, Irwin Stone’s The Healing Factor: Vitamin C Against Disease was published. Among vitamin C proponents, subscurvy, the concept proposed by Stone in this book was a game-changer. Stone studied ascorbic acid for over 50 years. His research lead him to the conclusion that the entire human population suffers from a lack of vitamin C.
Stone’s theory rests on this incontrovertible fact: THERE ARE ONLY 4 MAMMAL SPECIES THAT DO NOT SYNTHESIZE THEIR OWN VITAMIN C. WE ARE ONE OF THEM. The other three are fruit bats, rhesus monkeys, and guinea pigs.FN We humans are missing only one step in a process that allows other mammals to manufacture vitamin C internally from glucose (blood sugar). Without this step, our bodies are unable to produce it.
Stone has written that suboptimal amounts of vitamin C throughout life result in poor quality collagen. In turn, this leads to the physical breakdown many experience in their later years. The possible consequences include arthritis and joint diseases, broken hips, strokes, the many cardiovascular diseases, and possibly cancer.
***The Heart Of The Matter
Heart disease continues to be the #1 Killer of Americans, taking more than one in four people annually, over 600,000 individuals. Every year nearly 750,000 of us suffer heart attacks. In his best-selling Prescription for Natural Cures, James F. Balch, MD, writes that poor diet (particularly lack of fresh produce and low fiber intake), plus unhealthy lifestyle habits (e.g., smoking and lack of exercise) are the root cause of most heart disease. Heart disease, also called cardiovascular diease CVD), includes atherosclerosis (blocked arteries), angina (chest pain), heart attack, high blood pressure, and stroke.
Besides functioning to provide collagen, vitamin C is also a potent antioxidant. Oxidative damage is a major contributor to the development of CVD.FN Fruits and veggies are our greatest source of vitamin C. Population studies show that people eating the largest quantities of fruits and veggies have a reduced risk of CVD. Researchers think the antioxidant property of the vitamin may be providing protection.
Although results from studies looking at associations between vitamin C and CVD risk are conflicting, several large studies show that sections of the study populations getting the most vitamin C also had a reduced risk of CVD. One of these positive studies is the Nurses’ Health Study, a 16-year study, involving over 85,000 female nurses. Another involved 20,600+ British adults. In the latter, those getting the most vitamin C showed a 42% reduced risk of stroke.
Enter Matthias Rath, MD. In 1987, Rath discovered the connection between vitamin C deficiency and a risk factor for heart disease – lipoprotein(a). In the early 1990s, while working with 2-time Nobel Laureate Linus Pauling, at the Linus Pauling Institute, Rath authored and published Eradicating Heart Disease (Health Now, San Francisco). In it, he wrote about his work, explaining that heart attacks and strokes are not diseases, but the result of vitamin deficiency, particularly a lack of sufficient vitamin C. Since those early days, Dr. Rath has helped a huge number of patients by putting them on his drug-free supplement program.6
In his book, Rath points out that mammals producing their own vitamin C don’t have heart disease – even though many have very high levels of cholesterol. For example, bears measure in at 400 mg/dl while the generally considered safe level for humans is under 200. The heart arteries of C-producing animals are kept in better condition than ours by the constant internal bath of ascorbic acid, which results in higher quality collagen.
Our arteries open and close 60, 70, 80 times a minute as the heart pumps. Rath has compared this with stepping on a garden hose ongoingly with each pump. He has remarked that a new and flexible garden hose functions as designed. On the other hand, a brittle hose begins to crack, and eventually fails. He likens this to our heart’s arteries, which become weakened by vitamin deficiency, and eventually fail.
In addition, once the arteries are damaged, the body tries to repair them by putting down plaque. Plaque is made from oxidized cholesterol. As this cycle goes forward, ever more plaque adheres to the arteries, narrowing them (atheroclerosis). Eventually, this makes it difficult for the heart to receive sufficient oxygen and other nutrients.
To summarize, heart attacks are a combination of mechanical stress from the pumping heart, the accumulation of plaque narrowing the arteries, and weakened artery walls. Sufficient vitamin C maintains the integrity of the arteries. By adding vitamin C (and some other nutrients), Dr. Rath’s patients have reversed heart disease.
Other benefits of vitamin C are from its antioxidant property. This supports the heart by improving cholesterol profiles. Vitamin C actually lowers the liver’s production of cholesterol. It also optimizes cholesterol transport in the bloodstream and its uptake by the cells. In addition, vitamin C inhibits blood cells from clumping together and forming clots, which can initiate heart attacks. And, it recycles two other powerful antioxidants (vitamin E and glutathione) by “refreshing” them.
Rath recommends 1 gram (1000 mg) per day of vitamin C, in several doses of 250-500 mg each). Although as little as 300 mg per day have been shown to cut heart disease risk in half, a gram remains a conservative amount.7 For years, I have taken between 1 and 3 grams per day of a highly absorbable form. Linus Pauling himself was famous for huge amounts (up to 12 grams daily) and lived well into his 90s.
Rath also recommends several other supplements, particularly the amino acids L-lysine and L-proline. These amino acids are indispensable in the formation of collagen. Lysine is an essential amino acid, meaning it must be consumed through food sources. Proline can be produced by the body, but often in insufficient quantities for therapeutic needs. Five hundred milligrams of each is recommended. (Take them on an empty stomach with juice or water. Protein foods interfere with their absorption.)
Both acetyl-L-carnitine (ALC, 250 mg 2x/d) and coenzyme Q10 (25-150 mg daily) improve the energy supply in the heart muscle cells, supporting the heart’s pumping action. Other important supplements are a multiple vitamin-mineral formula (containing chromium and selenium, 200 mcg of each); additional vitamin E (up to 600 IU); additional magnesium (up to 1200 mg); and omega-3 oils from fish (couple of grams).8
If you have high cholesterol,
FrontLine: Vitamin C
• Dissolves Alzheimer’s Plaque
• Fights The Common Cold
• Needed for Infant Brains
• Has New Role In Skin Protection
• Dissolves Alzheimer’s Plaque!
The brains of people with Alzheimer’s contain lumps of misfolded protein aggregates named amyloid plaques. These cause nerve cell death. Sadly, first nerves to be attacked are in the memory center.
Cheng, et al, found that treatment with vitamin C dissolves toxic protein aggregates in Alzheimer’s disease!!! “When we treated brain tissues from mice… with vitamin C, we could see that the toxic protein aggregates were dissolved.” The results demonstrate something that was previously totally unknown about the properties of vitamin C. Resource: Cheng, Cappai, Ciccotosto, Svensson, Multhaup, Fransson, Mani (2011) Journal of Biological Chemistry 286, 27559-27572.
• Fights The Common Cold
Over 40 years later, people continue to believe in Linus Pauling’s teachings about vitamin C and colds. Researchers Douglas and Hemila revisited prevention and “cure”. They began with prevention. They reviewed 23 studies, using doses of up to 2g daily to prevent colds. The two were unimpressed with the results. However, they noted that those people taking vitamin C who then caught a cold, experienced a small reduction in the duration of the cold compared with a placebo. The authors write, “the consistency of these findings points to a genuine biological effect.”
A second prevention review yielded very robust results. Two conditions were necessary: 1) trying to prevent colds in cold weather and 2) extreme athletic exertion. Six studies were found in which the vitamin or a placebo was given to marathon runners, skiers, and soldiers. All of these persons were exposed to significant cold and/or physical stress. Those taking the vitamin experienced, on average, a 50 percent reduction in common cold incidence.1
Lastly, the authors looked at curbing an established cold. In seven trials, people took vitamin C at the beginning of a cold in an effort to shorten it. The numbers as a whole showed no benefit. One study stood out: Patients who took a single dose of 8 grams on the day their symptoms started,
experienced a shorter illness compared
with those who had taken a placebo.
To this, the authors added, “the results in this single trial are ‘tantalizing and deserve further assessment’.” Resource: Douglas RM, Hemila H (2005) Vitamin C for preventing and treating the common cold. PloS Med 2(6):e168. [PloS Med stands for Public Library of Science, Medicine.]
• Needed for Infant Brain Development
In a study out of the University of Copenhagen, researchers headed by Jens Lykkesfeldt showed that guinea pigs subjected to moderate vitamin C deficiency have 30 percent less hippocampal neurones and markedly worse spatial memory than guinea pigs given a normal diet.9
As discussed elsewhere, like guinea pigs, Rhesus monkeys, and fruit bats, humans are not capable of making their own vitamin C and so must get it from their diets. Evidently, the neonatal brain is particularly vulnerable to even a slight lowering of vitamin C levels. Such is its importance that if levels are low, the body will preferentially send all the vitamin C in the brain to support this tissue.
Mouse foetuses that aren’t able to transport vitamin C develop severe brain damage. Similar brain damage is “found in premature babies, [these are] linked to learning and cognitive disabilities later in life”.
In conclusion, there are parts of the globe where children are known to be vitamin C deficient. In Mexico and Brazil, population studies show that 30-40 percent of pregnant women have too low levels of the vitamin. It is likely that children get learning disabilities because they have not gotten enough vitamin C in their early life. Lykkesfeldt laments, “This is unbearable when it would be so easy to prevent this deficiency by giving a vitamin supplement to high-risk pregnant women and new mothers.” Resource: Lykkesfeldt, et al (2009) The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, September issue.
• New Role In Skin Protection
Duarte, Cooke, and Jones found that a form of vitamin C helped promote wound healing and also helped protect the DNA damage of skin cells. (Previously, the group published evidence that DNA repair is upregulated in people who take vitamin C supplements.)
Cooke stated, “The study indicates a mechanism by which vitamin C could contribute to the maintenance of healthy skin by promoting wound healing and by protecting cellular DNA against damage caused by oxidation.” The study has the potential to lead to advances in the prevention and treatment of skin lesions specifically, as well as contributing to the fight against cancer.
The discovery is particularly relevant to the cosmetics industry. Free radicals are associated with premature skin aging, and antioxidants, such as vitamin C, are known to counter these highly damaging compounds. It appears that in addition to quenching free radicals, vitamin C can help remove the DNA damage they form – just get past the cell’s defenses. Resource: Duarte, Cooke, Jones (September 2009) Free Radical Biology and Medicine.
Although a number of sources were used, three books are imperative to a greater understanding of the concepts in this newsletter. Two are the classics of Stone and Pauling. The third, a mesmerizing work by Rath, explains subscurvy and heart disease.
• Pauling, Linus. (1976). Vitamin C, the Common Cold, and the Flu. San Francisco: WH Freeman and Company.
• Rath, Matthias. (1993). Eradicating Heart Disease. San Francisco: Health Now.
• Stone, Irwin. (1972). The Healing Factor: Vitamin C Against Disease. New York: Grosset & Dunlap.
Each month Nutrition News selects three further topics from their extensive library to support concepts presented in the current newsletter. This month’s
featured newsletters are:
A Woman’s Heart Supplement Your Heart How To Please Your Woman
This study reflects another aspect of vitamin C. It is also an adaptogen, meaning it helps the body adapt to stress. Panax ginseng is the iconic example of an adaptogen.
Yes, this is the same material that is injected into lips and facial creases to create plumping. It also appears as an ingredient in cosmetics.
3 It was 70 years before the British Navy mandated the stowing of citrus into ships’ stores.
4 In nature, a 165 pound male goat under stress produces 17,000 mg of vitamin C. The current RDI/RDA amount for vitamin C is 60 mg.
5 Google: Robert Cathcart bowel-tolerance.
6 Check out the current work and concerns of Matthias Rath, MD, at www.drrathresearch.org.
7 In 1992, Dr. James Enstrom from the School of Public Health at UCLA and colleagues studied more than 11,000 Americans for an average of 10 years. Among their findings: In men, 300 mg of vitamin C from food or supplements cut heart disease risk by 50 percent; in women, it was cut by 33 percent.
8 For more in depth information about heart health, see Nutrition News “A Woman’s Heart”, “Supplement Your Heart”, and “How To Please Your Woman”.
9 The hippocampus is found in the limbic system of the brain. This system is involved in emotional behavior, motivation, and learning.
Nutrition News „ 2011 VOL XXXV, No. 11
The twentieth century had its vitamin C heroes. Among them Dr. Albert Szent-Gyorgyi (credited with discovering ascorbic acid crystals), Irwin Stone (vitamin C as a missing link), Linus Pauling (vitamin C and the common cold), Frederick Klenner, MD (pioneer in megadoses of C), and Robert Cathcart, MD (who developed the bowel-tolerance model of vitamin C dosage5).