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The Truth About Vitamin C

Updated on February 6, 2015
While fruits have a lot of vitamin C, they don't have nearly enough.
While fruits have a lot of vitamin C, they don't have nearly enough. | Source

Benefits of Vitamin C

The most well-known health benefit of vitamin C is its boost to the immune system. But, did you know it is an antioxidant and can also boost your mood?

Indeed, if you take enough vitamin C per day, it will raise your norepinephrine levels producing an uplifting effect on your overall mood.

Like vitamin E, it is a potent antioxidant that has many other, lesser known, benefits to our health. Let’s learn a bit more about the vitamin before I tell you about my little experiment.

A Bit About Vitamin C and Evolution

The majority of animals can produce their own vitamin C. Humans (and a few other animals such as apes, guinea pigs and a few species of bird) lost this ability at some point in our early evolution, but exactly why is unknown.

The theory is that during periods of starvation, not having to expend energy to make vitamin C internally was a great advantage. Most of these species were primarily vegetarian, and it is speculated that the amount of ascorbic acid they consumed through diet alone was approximately 2.5 g to 9 g per day.

However, for the older population of a species, the inability to produce vitamin C may have led to a number of different illnesses including arthritis, heart disease, cancer and weakened immune systems. Once an organism is past its reproductive prime, it’s not really an evolutionary threat if that organism suffers from arthritis. What matters is that a large number of healthy offspring was left behind.

This isn’t so true in our lives today. While, from an evolutionary perspective, it still doesn’t matter if an older member of a species suffers from arthritis or other illness, to humanity it does. The inability to create our own ascorbate may have led to the high prevalence of chronic disease we see in our older population.

In fact, the typical diet of a human in this day and age is lacking considerably in vegetables rich in the vitamin. Because of this, there is a chronic state of malnutrition including a vitamin C deficiency. For women of childbearing age, this is cause for concern. The majority of children are born already suffering deficiency, mainly because we have lost the gene to produce our own.

Mangos and apples contain vitamin C.
Mangos and apples contain vitamin C. | Source

What is Vitamin C?

Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, has several different properties:

  • Antiviral
  • Antihistamine
  • Antitoxin
  • Antibiotic
  • Cofactor in many enzymatic reactions
  • Antidepressant
  • Antioxidant

Vitamin C also regulates blood sugar levels, and can improve depression symptoms. The catch to this is the dosage. The RDA for an adult is 60mg, which is enough to prevent severe symptoms of scurvy.

But we still see scurvy in this country.

Vitamin C Deficiency: Scurvy

Most people know that Brits were called “limeys” at one point. Scurvy was highly prevalent on British ships, and many sailors died as a result. However, it was found that citrus fruits, particularly limes, prevented and cured scurvy; hence the term “limey’s.”

Scurvy is the result of a shortage of collagen, which is caused by vitamin C deficiency. Ascorbate (vitamin C) is imperative to the production of collagen, the substance that essentially binds everything together (like muscles, ligaments, and other tissues).

Symptoms of scurvy typically include

  • Bruising
  • Bleeding into the joints which causes swelling and pain
  • Loss of both hair and teeth.

Susceptibility to stress and fatigue are two of the early symptoms of the disease that often go unnoticed or ignored because of the stress and fast pace of our current lifestyle.

Kiwi have the most vitamin C out of the fruits shown here.
Kiwi have the most vitamin C out of the fruits shown here. | Source

Vitamin C as a Treatment

There were several pioneers involved in the study of ascorbic acid as a viable therapy for illness and chronic disease - most notably, Linus Pauling Ph.D., Irwin Stone Ph.D., and Frederick Klenner M.D.

Irwin Stone, Ph.D., found that vitamin C made a wonderful preservative for food as well as an antioxidant. He also saw the potential health benefits in it, and in the 1930s he began taking massive doses of the vitamin when it became available as a supplement.

He found that the recommended dose of ascorbate was much less (about 100 times less to be exact) than humans need, and he based this on the amount of ascorbic acid other mammals manufactured endogenously (within deep tissue).

Interestingly, Stone also theorized that SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) was a direct result of vitamin C deficiency.

Linus Pauling, Ph.D. supported Dr. Stone’s work and is probably the most infamous of the three men. He was a biochemist and, therefore, shunned by the medical community and made out to be a quack because he lacked a medical degree.

He studied how animals use and synthesize ascorbate finding that typically a high amount of the vitamin was required to maintain health. Rather than assume humans required the same high amounts of ascorbic acid to maintain health, Pauling estimated the amount of the vitamin in 110 raw plants, which supplied 2,500 calories. His estimate found that the amount contained in the raw plants was thirty-five times that of the recommended daily allowance (RDA).

Broccoli is a potent source of vitamin C.
Broccoli is a potent source of vitamin C. | Source
Vitamin C is available in several forms including chewable, tablet and capsules.
Vitamin C is available in several forms including chewable, tablet and capsules. | Source

Vitamin C Megadose Therapy

With a dosage of 8,000 mg and higher, vitamin C is lethal to bacteria such as tuberculosis and streptococcus.

At even higher levels, it is also selectively toxic to cancer cells. Dr. Frederick Klenner, M.D. was the first physician to treat numerous diseases with massive amounts of vitamin C. Some of the diseases he treated successfully are:

He also successfully cured chicken pox (herpes varicella zoster), measles, mumps, tetanus and polio in the 1940s, which was before the polio vaccine had been discovered.

For the next 40 years of his practice in family medicine, Dr. Klenner continued to use megadose vitamin C therapy to treat his patients. He once said:

Some physicians would stand by and see their patient die rather than use ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) because in their finite minds it exists only as a vitamin."

A Note About Chewable Vitamin C Supplements

While chewable supplements are more convenient for those who have trouble swallowing pills, I highly recommend refraining from using them as your vitamin C supplement. Chewable vitamin C tablets are usually made with sucrose which is instantly turned into glucose when its digested. Glucose and vitamin C are almost identical molecules, and the body gives priority to glucose.

Because of this, most of the vitamin C from the chewable tablet will be flushed from the system through the kidneys before it has a chance to be absorbed. The most efficient way to take a vitamin C supplement is a capsule since they rupture quite easily in the stomach. This releases the vitamin C rapidly and allows it to enter the bloodstream quickly.

Also remember that vitamin C must be taken throughout the day. It has a half-life of four hours, meaning it is flushed by the kidneys four hours after it is absorbed. To get the full effect of the vitamin, it must be kept in the system at somewhat constant levels. Personally, I take about 2,000mg every four hours.

Why aren’t we told to take vitamin C supplements or eat more oranges?

The studies the FDA and other scientists have conducted on the issue of vitamin C efficacy have used a maximum dosage of 200 mg for the treatment and prevention of illnesses like colds, flus, etc.

Because 200 mg did not prevent or speed up recovery, it was assumed that any amount of vitamin C over the RDA was useless.

How to Take Vitamin C

Vitamin C has a very short half-life. This means the vitamin is excreted via the kidneys in a very short amount of time, typically about every two to four hours.

Frequent doses need to be taken throughout the day to keep the levels in the blood high enough to reap the benefits. Usually, every two to four hours is sufficient.

VItamin C can be difficult for some people to take if they have a sensitive stomach. However, there are vitamin C supplements available that are specifically made to be easier on the stomach for those who need it.

Finding the right dose of Vitamin C is easy, but that dosage varies by each individual. It also varies based on the amount of stress you are currently suffering and whether or not you are ill (ie: cold, flu, respiratory ailment etc).

When we're stressed, we make adrenaline. The more adrenaline you produce, the more vitamin C you consume, and the more you need to intake.

The trick is to reach what is called “bowel tolerance” or the point at which it causes diarrhea. Bowel tolerance is the sign that your blood stream is completely saturated with vitamin C. Once bowel tolerance is reached, the dosage is dropped to a level that does not cause diarrhea. This dose is the amount of Vitamin C you need to take daily to stay healthy. The trick is to keep the blood stream saturated with Vitamin C without causing diarrhea.

My Experiment

After all this research, I was insatiably curious if any of this was true. Like any good scientist, I decided to experiment on myself.

I started taking vitamin C, and I took enough to reach bowel tolerance, which was 8 grams (8,000 mg) per day. I noticed an almost instantaneous improvement in my mood, and the severe allergy I had to my cats was completely gone.

Shortly after I started taking the vitamin, my husband came down with strep throat complete with the characteristic little white pustules.

Before he went to the doctor I gave him 4,000 mg of vitamin C. While my husband was at the doctor’s office, I felt a little pain in my throat, looked in the mirror and found it was just slightly red.

When the body is sick, the amount of vitamin C required rises dramatically.

So I doubled my usual dosage.

I decided this would be the perfect time to really prove that vitamin C worked. When my husband got home, he decided he didn’t want to take the antibiotic he was given, and I didn’t blame him.

Instead, we both took vitamin C. He took about 2,000 mg every two hours and I increased my dose to 1,000 mg every 20 minutes until I hit bowel tolerance.

After 8,000 mg and one hour, the pain in my throat was gone along with the redness. Those little white pustules in my husband’s throat were gone before the Doctor actually saw him, and the next day, all of our symptoms had vanished.

For More Information, or To Start Your Own Therapy

Vitamin C: The Real Story, the Remarkable and Controversial Healing Factor
Vitamin C: The Real Story, the Remarkable and Controversial Healing Factor

This book is a phenomenal read and the reason I started taking Vitamin C in the first place. Highly recommended.


Strep throat is caused from the streptococcus bacteria and is highly contagious. It also typically takes an antibiotic about 4 days to improve the symptoms, and you have to keep taking the drug for about 10 days total.

Comparatively, vitamin C cured (literally) our strep throat in LESS than 24 hours with no side effects and prevented my daughter from even getting the bacteria.

This little experiment proved to me that all the research was true. Since this experiment, I continually take 2,000mg of vitamin C every two hours, and anytime I get sick, or feel that I might be coming down with something, I take 1,000mg every 10 minutes until I reach bowel tolerance.

It is harmless; it doesn’t hurt the liver and does not cause kidney stones. What it does do is prevent and cure disease.

I urge you to do your own research. Find out for yourself. Question your doctor if he tells you ascorbic acid is worthless and then make your own decision.

For more information including access to studies and detailed information on other vitamins visit the website of Andrew Saul, Ph.D.

© Copyright 2012 - 2014 by Melissa Flagg, aka Daughter of Maat ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


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    • Sottway profile image

      Infopedia 7 months ago from Worldwide

      This is an excellent article. Informative while maintaining the reader's interest. Good work.

      Specifically for us, the part where you describe the potential health hazards of chewable supplements is of critical importants. I'm glad you've included this. It's particularly bad when an individual attempts to improve their health when using a supplement only to potentially risk it...

      Overall, great read!

    • Daughter Of Maat profile image

      Melissa Flagg 4 years ago from Rural Central Florida

      Thank you Amaryllis, and thank you for sharing your story. It's amazing how quickly vitamin C works!! Like you said, colds rarely last more than a day, and usually just a few hours I've noticed. That's phenomenal that it has rid you of your chest infections! Just fantastic.

      I too wonder why doctors won't share this with patients, although unfortunately I do know the answer. Vitamin C won't make the drug companies any money. But that shouldn't stop doctors from giving their patients this kind of information. But it does. So many people could be healthy, I think we'd actually have an epidemic of health! But that would also put the pharmaceutical companies out of business.

    • Amaryllis profile image

      Lesley Charalambides 4 years ago from New Hampshire

      This is another excellent hub. I just want to say that I did a very similar experiment several years ago and am completely convinced of its health benefits. For most of my life I suffered from chest infections. As a baby they almost killed me, as a child I missed school, as a university student I missed an entire term. Each time there was one, possibly two course of antibiotics. By the time I was 40, an age at which your ability to absorb vitamins decreases, it was just getting worse. One winter I had one infection after another. I decided to learn more about nutrition in an attempt to help myself and learned in the process about vitamin C. I now take 2g of vitamin C each day. I have not had a chest infection for over 10 years. I listen to my ody carefully and if I feel symptoms, I take 2g vitamin C every 2 hours. My husband and children do the same. It works for us. Colds rarely last more than a day. I've been told that many doctors do the same, but they don't seem to tell their patients. I don't understand why this is. Vitamin C changed my life.

      Thanks for a great hub - I hope lots of people follow your advice.

    • ARUN KANTI profile image

      ARUN KANTI CHATTERJEE 4 years ago from KOLKATA

      Phyllanthus emblica or Amlaki is the richest source of vitamin C and is the main ingredient for preparation of an Ayurvedic medicine for prevention of cough and cold. While I have been taking the fruit raw to my benefit I wonder why the physicians do not prescribe the vitamin often. Further I believe that excess vitamin C if taken is washed out without causing any side effects. Thanks for the useful hub.

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      Amen. Chewables are horrible. They tasted of imitation orange and I didn't feel any better for it.

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