How I discovered the importance of Vitamin C
One of the most memorable experiences of my life occurred back in the 1980s, when I was on the board of directors of the International Academy of Preventive Medicine. I was at a meeting in Chicago, and skipped a lecture that I had heard at a previous seminar. When I walked into the hospitality suite reserved for board members and speakers I found myself alone with Dr. Linus Pauling. A conversation ensued that would change my life.
When he discovered that I was a Chiropractor, Dr. Pauling told me that in his opinion the Chiropractic premise of the spinal misalignment didn’t go far enough. He suggested that before the misalignment could exist, a sprain/strain syndrome must occur at the musculo-ligamentous support for any specific joint(s). This is not what someone wants to hear who has invested a huge amount of time and money in a pre-med and Chiropractic education. He spoke to me of Vitamin C and its relationship to detoxification, immunity, sprain/strain repair and aging. The information on sprain/strain repair and aging was all new to me and I had some serious doubts. However, Dr. Pauling’s reputation as a recipient of two Nobel prizes prompted me to respectfully hold my tongue.
Upon arriving home, I immediately headed for the library at the local medical school to look up the available research on Vitamin C. This is what I found.
Vitamin C is a powerful anti-oxidant and detoxifier
Vitamin C is a powerful anti-oxidant, and it is stored in small amounts in the liver and adrenal cortex. One of its many functions is the reactivation of Vitamin E. In the presence of adequate Vitamin C, Vitamin E is able to be used over and over. Vitamin C also plays a large roll in carrying various heavy metal poisons like lead and mercury out of the body. In inner city children, where testing has shown that the toxic body burden of these poisonous heavy metals is often perilously high and significantly effects I.Q. and life expectancy, Vitamin C can be a virtual lifesaver.
Vitamin C is an immune system booster
Vitamin C has been shown to increase the effectiveness of white blood cell function. White blood cells (WBC’s) are the policemen of the body. To simplify a complicated chemical interaction, it is safe to say that they “beat up” invading germs to keep us from infections. Vitamin C potentizes WBC’s to the extent that when adequate Vitamin C is taken, the body will automatically reduce the WBC’s it makes because it can then do a better job with fewer WBC’s.. Now that’s efficiency. Vitamin C is also important in the manufacture of anti-stress hormones that are so important when the body is under stress from infection or environmental pollution. In fact, it is so important to the manufacture of these hormones that Vitamin C is stored in the actual adrenal glands that make these hormones.
Vitamin C and sprains and strains
Sprains and strains occur when ligaments (they hold bone to bone), and tendons (they hold muscle to bone), are torn or damaged. A subluxation is a sprain/strain injury between two vertebrae (bones of the back). A common complaint about Chiropractic care is that it takes so many adjustments or manipulations to fix a problem. When I started using Dr. Pauling’s advice about supplementing my chiropractic patients with Vitamin C, I reduced the number of office visits needed to fix the average back, hip, shoulder, etc., problem to between two and three. Although my income was initially reduced, it was soon more than made up for by referrals from happy patients. If you utilize Chiropractic care, it is possible to save yourself a fortune in office visits by simply supplementing with adequate Vitamin C.
The mechanism of action for healing sprain/strains and anti-aging are the same
Vitamin C is a major component of collagen. Collagen is the basic building block of connective tissue. Connective tissue holds the other tissues of the body together. Some connective tissue is relatively inelastic while some is very elastic. Tissues that need stretchability usually have more of the elastic type. When the body has inadequate Vitamin C, sprains/strains repair very slowly. As we get older and our ability to absorb Vitamin C is compromised by the aging process, not only do sprains and strains heal more slowly, but all connective tissue repair is compromised. When that happens, we virtually disconnect and one of the signs of that is drooping and sagging skin. Aging can’t be stopped by taking Vitamin C, but it can sure be slowed.
Why isn’t there enough Vitamin C to keep us healing quickly and looking young?
Scientists have discovered that virtually all animals make copious amounts of Vitamin C. The exceptions are guinea pigs, the South American bubal bat, some species of new world monkeys, and man. Thousands of years ago, a genetic glitch took place and mankind completely lost its’ ability to make Vitamin C. The mechanism to make Vitamin C from glycogen (storage sugar), is intact in our livers with the exception of the last enzyme in the chain (l-gulunolactone oxidase). Interestingly, animals that make the most Vitamin C have the least cancer, the least overall illness, and they age the most slowly. This inability to make Vitamin C is an important part of why humans age faster than practically all the other animals on the planet. Supplementation is the only solution.
How much Vitamin C is enough?
Medicine hasn’t been much help determining optimum Vitamin C amounts because it is primarily concerned with the amount needed to keep from dying of scurvy (the disease associated with Vitamin C deficiency). There’s a huge difference between the amount needed to avoid scurvy and the amount needed for optimum health. Linus Pauling suggested that we use the amount of Vitamin C made by other primates that do make their own Vitamin C as a reasonable amount for optimum health. The recommended daily amount (RDA) for Vitamin C (the amount needed to avoid scurvy), is 30 mg. Primates that make their own Vitamin C make about 1000mgs (1 gm) of Vitamin C for every 50 pounds of body weight. That would mean that a 150 pound chimpanzee would make approximately 3000mgs (3 gms) of Vitamin C a day when under low to moderate stress. When heavily stressed, the amount of Vitamin C manufactured can quadruple.
In my practice, I have recommended a gram of Vitamin C for every 50 pounds of weight for over thirty-five years.
Do certain things increase the need for Vitamin C?
Unfortunately, Vitamin C needs increase when we are confronted with a hostile chemical environment, e.g., pollution from chemical dumping; preservatives, hormones, and antibiotics that are added to our food; off-gassing of modern building materials and carpeting; airborne agribusiness chemicals used by farmers; first or second hand tobacco smoke; etc. To use tobacco smoke as an example, the average smoker needs approximately 600mgs of Vitamin C just to detoxify a pack of cigarettes. Remember now, the RDA is only 30 mgs. I have been called a megascorbic practitioner, but given the scientific information available in the literature, I think my recommendations are on the conservative side.
How much Vitamin C is too much?
Just over two decades ago, a very famous orthopedic surgeon named Robert Cathcart became interested in Vitamin C when he noticed that when his patients were given large doses before and after surgery, their expected fatality rate dropped to almost non existent, and they healed at a much faster rate. Dr. Cathcart wondered if Vitamin C needs differed greatly from person to person, so he embarked on a few research trials. What he found was that when you give a patient more Vitamin C than they can use, they stop absorbing it. It then becomes an irritant to the large intestine and causes diarrhea. He called that the Cathcart point, or bowel recognition. He also found that some of his patients reached bowel recognition on as little as 5 or 6gms of Vitamin C per day, and that some needed 50 or 60gms to reach the same recognition, a ten fold difference. He also found that his patience healed significantly faster when they were supplementing with Vitamin C just below the point of bowel recognition. Other than diarrhea, no other side effects have been attributed to megadosing Vitamin C.
Does Vitamin C quality differ?
Unfortunately, most Vitamin C on the market is ascorbic acid. It is cheap, irritates the stomach, and is not found in this form in nature. Nature buffers ascorbic acid with minerals, which makes it gentle to the stomach and intestinal tract. Nature also supplies Vitamin C as a member of a group or family called the bioflavonoids, along with other members of that family. The correct ratio is controversial, but is generally thought to be about 10% bioflavonoids. Vitamin C can be made from almost any source of sugar. The technology involved in making Vitamin C in pill form is universal, and everyone uses the same technology. Some companies use only the best ingredients. The companies that sell exclusively to physicians are among those companies. An example of quality Vitamin C that can be purchased in a health food store would be “Ester C.” It is the most advertised Vitamin C product on the market. Preventics Vitamin C 1000 is the equivalent of “Ester C,” and because you buy Preventics Vitamin C1000 at wholesale you save over $30.00 a bottle.
Are there circumstances where we need more Vitamin C?
When my patients are seriously acutely or chronically ill, I will often recommend they take their Vitamin C levels up to bowel recognition. I suggest they do this by taking it with meals, and by increasing one pill per meal each day until recognition is reached. At this point, the Vitamin C is reduced somewhat, which depends on the dose at which recognition occurred, and continued at the reduced dose until recognition occurs again. This is continued until wellness is achieved or it is determined that it is time to go back to maintenance dosage. This is not something I recommend people try on their own, and is why we have a Health Help Hotline for our customers.