Vitamin C Function, Properties, and Facts: Scurvy To The Common Cold
Vitamin C History
Scurvy is the oldest vitamin deficiency described in history books as early as 1500 BC. Vitamin C was also one of the first scientific experiments performed and in 1747. James Lind (British physician) tested this out. It was noticed that men who went on long voyages became extremely ill; therefore it must be a result of their diet.
The men who were given oranges and lemons ended up recovering from the effects of scurvy. It was therefore concluded that citrus fruits contained something that prevented scurvy. The unfortunate part is that it would be almost 50 years later until the British fleet would bring Lime juice with them on their journeys. This is where they received the nickname “Limeys”.
Vitamin C Properties
• Water soluble
• Oxidizes in light, air, heat, and is impacted by iron and copper. So try not to cook these foods in an iron or copper pot.
• Don’t leave food that is cut open exposed to the air. This causes oxidization as in browning of an apple.
• Try to boil the water then place the vegetables in for cooking. Shorten the time spent cooking as much as possible and try not to overcook vegetables.
Vitamin C Deficiencies
· Poor wound healing
Scurvy symptoms are:
• bleeding, swollen gums
• lesions around the teeth, teeth fall out
• wounds fail to heal
• dry, scaly skin
• muscle cramps
• swollen joints “aching bones”
• Children: failure to grow, skeletal changes “frogs leg” position
Vitamin C Supplements
Vitamin C Function
The main function of vitamin C is Collagen formation. However there is also a belief that it helps with prevention or curing of colds. This has yet to be proven in any controlled studies or released in any legitimate peer review science journals. Although there has been one notable research that stated otherwise but most is a result of placebo effect (Douglas RM, Hemilia H (2005) Vitamin C for preventing and treating the common cold. PLoS Med 2(6): e168.)
So why the Vitamin C Controversy?
Well besides not going into the ever pharmaceutical debate which generates billions of dollars, and with out going into the ever increasing natural medicine which also generates billions of dollars by getting you to take vitamin c and other supplements. The main debate started in 1970 by Linus Pauling. He made came up with the idea that Vitamin C might prevent or cure common cold. His theory was first released in his book “Vitamin C and the Common Cold”. He would take 18g of vitamin c a day and when he felt a cold coming would take up to 46grams a day. The recommended daily dosage is 90mg the upper level is 2000mg or 2grams. That is a huge difference. See toxicity below. It could be a result of placebo effect which is a result of histamine (www.sciencedaily.com/articles/h/histamine.htm ) People take over the counter anti-histamine drugs to prevent stuffed up, running noses much like the way you take an allergy medication. Well Vitamin C is a natural anti-histamine at a much smaller level and therefore works much like a drug. This helps alleviate some of the issues with a cold but does NOT cure it.
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Vit C Toxicity ( fda.gov)
Toxic levels can occur in humans with 2grams or more a day. Some of the effects from high levels could be:
• Nausea, Abdominal cramps
• Kidney stones
• Rebound scurvy
It has been documented that taking extreme levels of vitamin C can actually set off the same symptoms as scurvy. So you literally give yourself scurvy by taking to much vitamin c. This is done though by extreme or mega dosing.
Do your own research and know your limits. Hope you learned something from this article? Remember you should always talk to your doctor before starting or stopping any medication or supplements given to you. Stay healthy!
Douglas RM, Hemilia H (2005) Vitamin C for preventing and treating the common cold. PLoS Med 2(6): e168.