Even before Nobel Prize-winning chemist Linus Pauling did his studies on megadosing with it, Vitamin C (or ascorbic acid) was known to be an important supplement to the human diet. Historically, quite small doses were found to protect British seamen from ‘scurvy’ – but those doses were not actually ‘pure’ vitamin C.
You see, when the sailors were given vitamin C, it was in the form of citrus fruit. They sucked on the lime fruits to extract the juice, but at the same time they also received the benefits of what some now call ‘vitamin p’ – or the bioflavonoids – that are found in the fleshy white skin of all citrus fruits and a number of other plant sources. Current science suggests that these bioflavonoids are potentiators that dramatically increase the benefits we can receive from a dose of ascorbic acid
This makes lots of sense to me. I would expect nutritional elements to be of greatest benefit to us in their most natural forms. It is only recently that scientists learned to extract them into individual elements in order to study them. But there have been many, many generations of human beings who needed those same elements for survival and health. Why would nature hide these things from earlier people in a less-than-useful form?
So what is Vitamin C good for today?
Well, scientists have found a lot of different ways that Vitamin C contributes to our health.
- Of course it’s good for preventing scurvy. This disease is far from eradicated in the world. It is the cause of illness and death in many poverty-stricken populations. It exists in even modern Western countries where people do not get sufficient Vitamin C in their diets. It generally only takes 50 -90 mg. Vitamin C a day to prevent scurvy.
- Dr. Pauling’s experiments with large doses of Vitamin C were focused on its prevention and curing of the common cold. He recommended using 1000 mg (1 gram) as a preventative and taking repeated doses of as much as 3000 mg (3 grams) when you feel a cold starting.
- Vitamin C also supports a strong immune system with its oxidant and antioxidant activity.
- And it is a natural antihistamine and diuretic.
- It is an essential component of enzymes that support energy production in cells, maintain blood vessels and cartiledge, and keep the nervous system functioning.
- It has even been used intravenously to successfully treat some cancers.
Do we really need Vitamin C supplements?
Well… yes – if you eat a normal modern diet. You see,
- Human beings are one of the few creatures on the earth that do not manufacture Vitamin C in their bodies. That means that we have to get it from other sources.
- Natural sources of Vitamin C include fresh fruits and vegetables and minimally-cooked meats. Unfortunately, cooking destroys much of the ascorbic acid in the fresh products and saturated fats bind it in the bloodstream so it can’t be absorbed and used.
- Modern agriculture and food distribution practices include the heavy use of fertilizers and premature picking with artificial ripening techniques. These things drastically decrease the amount of Vitamin C in the produce in the first place.
- Tobacco use or exposure reduces Vitamin C absorption, exposure to carbon monoxide (city living) destroys Vitamin C, and increased free radicals from infection or stress increase Vitamin C needs.
What is the best Vitamin C Supplement to use?
Well, that answer is a pretty personal one. It all depends on how much you want to take and the reason(s) you are taking it as well as how your body (including your taste buds!) responds to it. Vitamin C comes in pills, liquids, and crystals – and in plain ascorbic acid, ascorbates (chemically connected to various minerals also needed for health), and in combination bioflavonoids from rose hips, citrus, acerol cherries, or other sources. My preference is to use one with bioflavonoids because I believe they come together naturally for a good reason.
Most Vitamin C products are quite inexpensive, so you can try out different ones and find one that works well for you. I would suggest that if you haven’t done it yet, you protect and enhance your health by starting a regular, personal Vitamin C supplementation program today. You can pick some up at your local pharmacy or retail store next time you go – or get started right away by shopping conveniently right here.