Now, here´s a quick history lesson: Vitamin C and its importance was discovered in 1747, during the “Age of Sails”. Seafarers would travel for long distances, set on a mission to explore the world. The diet would often constitute processed beef and biscuits. The seafarers started to get a condition commonly called Scurvy. The condition starts with symptoms such as fatigue, muscle weakness, joint and muscle aches, bleeding gums and leg rashes. Imagine being on board a boat set for “The new world” in the early 1700’s. For no apparent reason, people around you were loosing their teeth, their skin would turn yellow (due to jaundice), and gradually everyones health would deteriorate. This mysterious epidemic claimed the life of thousands upon thousands of seafarers, without anyone understanding why. That is, not until a controversial experiment was led under the physician James Lind. James Lind discovered that if seafarers ingested citrus fruits (a common folk remedy to treat scurvy) upon their voyages, the seafarers could avoid this fatal situation. In fact, British Royal Navy officer James Cook then used this advice and his team which enabled him to sail from England all the way to Australia and New Zealand.
Scurvy was also a common disease during the First World War, where soldiers often suffered from malnourishment. It was then proven through studies that 10 mg of vitamin C was the minimal requirement to prevent scurvy in these conditions. This has later been used to set the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance), which later was adjusted to 75-90 mg / day.
In the 20th century, several well renowned researchers contributed extensively to the importance of vitamin C on health such as Alfred Hess. The two-time Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling stated how administering vitamin C was crucial for the treatment of cardiovascular conditions.
Another important name in the vitamin C history book is Dr. Fred Klenner, who conducted many successful studies in the importance of vitamin C to counter viral infections such as polio, herpes zoster, chicken pox, measles, mumps and viral pneumonia. Most of these treatments are described in his book “Injectable Vitamin C: Effective Treatment for Viral and Other Diseases”.
The most convincing evidence comes from Klenners research he did around the Poliomyelitis Epidemic in North Carolina in 1948. Here, 60 patients were suffering from this neurological condition, and after only 72 hours, after taking vitamin C injections, all of the 60 patients were entirely healed.
Some of the reasons why vitamin C is so effective for viral infections are multifold: The ability for immune cells such as white blood cells to accumulate vitamin C in their cells, and henceforth increase the ability of specialized immune cells and interferons to protect against infection. Also, vitamin C boost the mitochondrial energy production, essential for energy production in various immunological cells.
On the other hand, researchers and physicians Goodwin and Tangum published findings that mega doses of vitamin C could lead to kidney stones. But since these “findings” were based on earlier literature stating that there may be a linkage, this statement is inconclusive. There is no conclusive evidence to this day that supplementation of vitamin C will have any adverse side affects.
There are only a few animals on the planet that are not able to produce their own vitamin C, and humans are among them. Since we can’t produce vitamin C ourselves, it´s essential to therefore consume it in our food, and maybe also in the form of supplements. Species that produce vitamin C create it in their liver by converting glucose into Vitamin C. Humans, apes, and a few other animals lack the final step to convert glucose into Vitamin C. Linus Pauling concluded that one should look at the intake of vitamin C consumption amongst other primates, which like ourselves, can’t produce vitamin C themselves. Specifically, a gorilla ingests on average 4.5 grams of vitamin C, while humans mostly consume an average of 500 mgs a day in their diet!
Now, that´s all you need to know about vitamin C historically, for now, and we will conclude with the health benefits of this necessary vitamin:
- Vitamin C boosts the immune system to protect against infection and work as an effective antiviral therapy, and a good therapy in the early stages of colds and flus
- It protects against the harmful effects of free radicals formed by harmful chemicals, heavy metals, nitrites (from pre-packaged foods, which most in the Western world seem to consume a lot of unfortunately)
- It acts as a to cure against harmful chemicals such as smoke and other chronic stressors that may have weakened the immune system
- It´s a treatment for cardiovascular conditions, and decreases the risk of cardiovascular risks such as stroke
- Vitamin C lowers the skin aging process, and there´s less wrinkling and better moisturizing of the skin (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition).
- There is a reduction in general inflammation and a reduced risk of auto-immune symptoms
- It decreases the risk of developing conditions such as macular degeneration
Now, where to find good sources of vitamin C and other essential vitamins. I will cover this in later articles. For now you could have a look at this list.