How could vitamin C be a secret? Everybody knows we need it to stay alive and healthy. For example, most people are aware of its role in preventing scurvy. Sailors on long, ocean-going voyages commonly got scurvy, so in 1795 the British Navy began issuing limes, which are full of vitamin C, to its sailors for this very reason. (Brits are called “Limeys,” right?)
However, here is the secret that drug companies hope the general populace never finds out. Vitamin C can do far more than merely keeping humans from bruising easily and having bleeding gums, loose teeth, poor immune systems, difficulty healing and mild anemia.
It turns out that vitamin C is not just one of the least toxic substances that exist, but in fact it should actually be its very own food group, right up there with proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. It’s water soluble and is essential for life. Vitamin C is far less dangerous than common table salt and is about as necessary for true health as water.
It’s all a matter of dosage. Some researchers have criticized dosages recommended by government agencies because they don’t take weight and age differences into account and because they only represent the amount needed to prevent acute forms of vitamin deficiency disease instead of either lower levels of the disease or the amounts needed to prevent other diseases. Nor do they address amounts needed for optimal health, as they are solely based on levels that are slightly above malnourishment. Because most people are content with the guidelines of the governmental agencies, the benefits of much higher doses are rarely considered.
Most animals make as much vitamin C right in their own bodies as they need in order to have immune systems and self-healing abilities people can only envy. Why can’t humans do the same thing? Millions of years ago, the ancestors of modern homo-sapiens had an evolutionary hiccup. They lost the ability to manufacture vitamin C in their own bodies, so they started needing to get it from the food they eat.
This was fine until the ice age made it difficult to get vitamin C all year round. Evolution compensated by allowing humans to patch up fragile blood vessels (remember that vitamin C prevents bruising) with cholesterol. When summer came along, and vitamin C was plentiful, the cholesterol patches on the blood vessels dissolved. The hardening arteries softened right up again.
Alas, the “modern” diet of humankind today makes the caveman’s diet look like the heights of good nutrition. Usually people don’t get nearly enough vitamin C to dissolve arterial plaque, also called arteriosclerosis. Nor do they get enough vitamin C for their bodies and immune systems to really engage in rebuilding themselves from the inside out. As a result, people get degenerative diseases and age before they really need to.
Why hasn’t this been in the news? It’s simple. Vitamin C is incredibly inexpensive. Put another way, promoting it is not lucrative. For example, a heart attack is worth tens of thousands of dollars to the health care system, but heart attacks can often be avoided by a daily intake of vitamin C that adds up to mere tens of dollars. There’s just no money to be made by selling preventive over the counter vitamin C compared to selling expensive prescription heart medications.
This example focuses on heart disease, but vitamin C has far broader “healing” powers. It is a safe way to treat viral diseases and works very effectively against poisoning. There is certainly evidence that it is useful in preventing lead poisoning. There is a high probability that it prevents the formation of cataracts. Most people are aware that it helps with colds and flu. And there is a growing body of evidence of its toxicity to cancer cells in high, intravenous doses.
It is almost impossible to get enough vitamin C for optimum health from diet alone. Many more details can be found by using an internet search engine and searching for “Linus Pauling” and “Vitamin C.”
How much vitamin C should be taken daily? Authorities vary widely in their recommendations, but a good benchmark is something called “Bowel Tolerance.” This simply means taking as much vitamin C as possible before starting to experience stool looseness. For most people, this is about 6,000 to 12,000 mg per day. It’s helpful to take vitamin C several times throughout the day instead of all at once because the body flushes it out very quickly.