Vitamin C

For this author, his skepticism over vitamin and supplements began in July 2013 when he read this article: The Vitamin Myth: Why we Thing we Need Supplements, in the Atlantic from which this section is summarized. The article recounts the history of why we believe a basic reasonably well-rounded diet does not suffice to meet our nutritional needs. Well, you probably guessed it–there’s no money in not selling supplements.

Atlantic cogently suggests it all began with Linus Pauling: the father of molecular biology; and Nobel Prize winner, youngest person every elected to the National Academy of Sciences and full professor at Caltech all before he was 30. This remarkable man was also a peace activist, who refused to take Senator Joe McCarthy’s loyalty oath, opposed the Viet Nam war and whose work led to the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and a remarkable second Nobel Peace Prize! His chemical research into molecular bonding was a precursor to Einstein’s theory of quantum physics. Then, at age 65, he came under the influence of Dr. Irwin Stone, reputedly a British biochemist, who recommended he take 3,000 mg of vitamin C daily to live longer. By the way, Dr. Stone spent only two years in college studying chemistry, he obtained an “honorary” degree from the Los Angeles College of Chiropractic and his Ph.D. came from Donsbach University–an unaccredited correspondence school in LA. This poorly educated man helped destroy the credibility, among scientists of one of the great researchers ever to live, and it was also the beginning of fad science and the vitamin/supplement industry.

Pauling began to feels more lively and healthy and “In particular, the severe colds I had suffered several times a year all my life no longer occurred…I increased my intake of vitamin C to ten times, then twenty times, and then three hundred times the RDA [recommended daily amount]” getting up to 18,000 mg/day. Luckily, vitamin C is processed by your kidneys, so Dr. Pauling peed most of it out every day. In 1970 Dr. Pauling published
Vitamin C and the Common Cold and told the public they should take 3,000 mg daily with was about 50 times the RDA. His book, a best seller, became what he was remembered for and spiked the sales of vit. C which quadrupled, and vitamin manufacturers were calling it “the Linus Pauling effect.” A few years later he expanded it’s benefits as a cure for the flue. However, subsequent studies (at least 15) found no benefit of vit. C in preventing or curing colds, and certainly not the flu. But, then it got worse. Dr. Pauling started to claim vit. C cured cancer. Sadly, cancer patients were now focused on vitamin C when meeting with their oncologists and enormous efforts at places like the Mayo Clinic had to be expended to disprove the “fake news” about vitamin C. Harm was being done, but the worst was yet to come:

Pauling wasn't finished. Next, he claimed that vitamin C, when taken with massive doses of vitamin A (25,000 international units) and vitamin E (400 to 1,600 IU), as well as selenium (a basic element) and beta-carotene (a precursor to vitamin A), could do more than just prevent colds and treat cancer; they could treat virtually every disease known to man. Pauling claimed that vitamins and supplements could cure heart disease, mental illness, pneumonia, hepatitis, polio, tuberculosis, measles, mumps, chickenpox, meningitis, shingles, fever blisters, cold sores, canker sores, warts, aging, allergies, asthma, arthritis, diabetes, retinal detachment, strokes, ulcers, shock, typhoid fever, tetanus, dysentery, whooping cough, leprosy, hay fever, burns, fractures, wounds, heat prostration, altitude sickness, radiation poisoning, glaucoma, kidney failure, influenza, bladder ailments, stress, rabies, and snakebites. When the AIDS virus entered the United States in the 1970s, Pauling claimed vitamins could treat that, too. The Atlantic, July 19, 2013.

Vitamin C Benefit in Cognitive Health
The WACS study also looked at vitamin C (500 mg daily). There seemed to be a neuroprotective benefit for vit. C in women with new cardiovascular events, but it did not seem to slow cognitive decline over time in other women.

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