Vitamin C has therapeutic value in a laundry list of health conditions ranging from acne to cancer, to diabetes to asthma. It goes far beyond simple cold/flu prevention and treatment. In fact it is one of a few select supplements I personally make part of my day-to-day routine. Here's why...
Vitamin C is used in the human body in several key metabolic pathways. It is especially important in wound healing, collagen synthesis, and as an anti-oxidant that prevents cellular damage in all types of body cells. Without it, we suffer a disease syndrome called scurvy.
You may not realize this, but most plants and animals are able to synthesize their own vitamin C. Humans, some kinds of primates, and guinea pigs this ability some 60 million years ago. For humans it is considered an "essential nutrient", meaning we must get in in our diet, we've no other choice.
The amount required in our diet for optimal functioning has been the matter of dispute for some time...
Back in the 70's Dr. Linus Pauling wrote a book called Vitamin C and the Common Cold. It was and still is a best seller. The book argues first that vitamin C is needed by the human body in doses significantly higher than what was being recommended as the RDA and second that during the case of an acute viral infection, we required even more again!
There has been ongoing controversy and argument since that time about optimal intake for optimal function versus minimal intake required for disease free function.
So what's the magic dose? Well... it seems a healthy person can only make use of between 1000-2000mg per day before reaching a “saturation point” in the blood stream. (i.e. eating more will not increase blood levels further). That said, the whole game changes when you are sick, however, and the optimal dose during an active infection is still being investigated. Some sources say 5 to 10 times the day-to-day dose is required for optimal functioning.
The good news is, vitamin C is very safe, even at the high doses. In fact, it is one of the most widely used food preservatives because of this reason. It goes by the name ascorbic acid on food labels.
The only side effect to note is that it can cause gas, loose stools, and in sensitive folks diarrhea. Most frequently in the clinic, my patients report it only softens your stool a little, making it a little more like the consistency of toothpaste.
The only caution to be aware of is for those of us prone to kidney stone formation – it seems to increase the likelihood of forming an initial stone or a subsequent stone. These patients can mitigate risk of a stone by taking vitamin B6 together with the vitamin C... but if stones run in your family, please see your medical or naturopathic doctor for specific advice.
Anyhow... on to what we can use it for!
Here are some of the conditions Vitamin C has well-known therapeutic indications for:
The list goes on and on, but I'd much rather not make this article any longer for you to read. If you think you could benefit from vitamin C supplements I encourage you to speak with your medical or naturopathic doctor for your individual dosing and instructions.
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