A vitamin is defined as a trace nutrient that the body otherwise cannot produce on its own. Vitamin C deficiency is otherwise known as scurvy, a disease of seafaring people. Ferdinand Magellan lost 90% of his crew mainly to scurvy, which includes the following signs and symptoms:
- Extreme fatigue
- Mottled skin
- Bleeding from mucous membranes, especially apparent in the oral cavity
While it was Dr James Lind from Scotland who discovered that citrus fruits solved the scurvy problem that had killed of many sailors on prolonged diet of alcohol, biscuits, salted pork (don’t live on that!), vitamin C is largely the legacy of a Hungarian scientist Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, who also discovered it in 1932 and won a Nobel Prize for it. After him, it was the better known Linus Pauling who went on to propose the use of vitamin C in the treatment of cancer.
Vitamin C in what form?
- As ascorbic acid: This is the most simple form of oral vitamin C which some say will cause gastrointestinal distress.
- Together with bioflavanoids: This is why you see rosehips extract together with vitamin C in some products out there. This is just trying to mirror what is present naturally. For example, flavanoids commonly appear with vitamin C in citrus fruits as well as in colored vegetables.
- In its buffered form as a mineral ascorbate e.g. sodium ascorbate: Someone like Dr. Mercola will say that magnesium or sodium ascorbate are oxidized forms of vitamin C and hence not good for use, Dr. Hunninghake does not think so and gives the green light for its use. There is an argument that while the mineral ascorbate form circumvents the problem of gastrointestinal side effects, it actually is a less bioavailable form. Each molecule of ascorbic acid can react with two free electrons or “free radicals.” Mineral ascorbates, already bound to the mineral ion, react only with one free radical per molecule. This means, literally, that twice as much vitamin C in the form of mineral ascorbates is necessary for positive therapeutic results.
- In its liposomal form: While the Linus Pauling Institute does not endorse the use of liposomal vitamin C over other forms, this is the form that is supposed to increase bioavailability.
- As an IV: This is when IV vitamin C is used to treat cancer.
Vitamin C as Cancer Treatment?
To quote Dr. Raymond Chang, “most research has not found an obvious link between cancer prevention and vitamin C. He references a randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled trial involving more on 14,000 men on vitamin C that had no significant effect on colorectal, lung and prostate cancer – 500mg daily for an average of 8 years. He also quotes another study by the Mayo Clinic that showed no significant increase in survival rate of terminal cancer patients – 10,000mg daily.
However, it was a 2005 study by the US National Institutes of Health that started pointing the news in the other direction, but only with intravenous vitamin C. A later phase I study also supported this view – 15,000mg per kg of body weight 3x weekly seemed show therapeutic effect.
Antioxidant or Pro-oxidant?
Today, we understand Vitamin C as just one of the many antioxidants out there. In higher doses, vitamin C is actually a pro-oxidant. In fact, this is how it is able to treat cancer.
The author himself uses vitamin C in its powdered ascorbic acid form.