Ever since its discovery in the early Twentieth Century, Vitamin C has gained a reputation as a “Miracle Vitamin.” Not only does it serves as a primary ingredient of collagen, a glue-like substance, which is the basis of connective tissue found all over the body, it also helps the immune system fight off foreign invaders and tumor cells. This hard-working nutrient has been shown to prevent many illnesses, from everyday ailments such as the common cold to devastating diseases such as cancer.
The vitamin is also known as ascorbic acid meaning “without scurvy,” the disease caused by a Vitamin C deficiency. Scurvy, an ailment common among British sailors before the 1900s which caused many deaths until James Lind discovered that the juice of lemons could cure and also prevent the disease. Navy ships then are routinely supplied with limes for the sailors to consume daily, and thus these sailors became known as “limeys.” Only about 10mg of Vitamin C is necessary to prevent scurvy.
While most other animals can produce their own ascorbic acid in the liver from glucose, humans as well as primates and guinea pigs, must get from dietary sources.
As a potent antioxidant, Vitamin C’s primary role is to neutralize free radicals. Since ascorbic acid is water soluble, it can work both inside and outside the cells to combat free radical damage.
Free radicals seek out an electron to regain their stability. “And since Vitamin C is an abundant source of electrons, it can donate electrons to free radicals such as hydroxyl and superoxide radicals and douse their reactivity,” states Adrianne Bendich in “Antioxidant Micronutrients and Immune Responses.” It prevents harmful genetic alterations within cells and protects lymphocytes from mutations to the chromosomes. It also helps with wound healing and burns, she added.
Vitamin C also prevents free radical damage in the lungs and may even help to protect the central nervous system from such damage. In a study of guinea pigs, an ascorbic acid treatment effectively reduces the acute lung damage caused by the presence of superoxide anion free oxygen radicals in the trachea.
Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling recommends dosages as high as 17,000 milligrams. For therapeutic benefit, he suggests at least 1,000 milligrams, which could be split into two 500 milligram doses daily. In case of infection, you can increase dosage up to 5,000 milligrams twice a day.
Many studies have indicated that Vitamin C’s antioxidant mechanisms may help to prevent cancer in several ways. It combats the peroxidation of lipids, for example, which has been linked to the aging process and degeneration. The vitamin reduces the risk of cancers of the colon, pancreas, esophagus, rectum, and especially the stomach. It reverses the biological clock by rejuvenating white blood cells in the elderly.
It also protects against industrial pollutants. It protects from cardiovascular disease and prevents the build-up of atherosclerotic plaque on the blood vessel walls. This vitamin also protects against harmful nitrosamines produced by eating deli meats, sausage, and bacon. Many of the pollutants that now pervade our environment can cause toxic, carcinogenic or mutagenic effects. Vitamin C may be able to arrest these harmful effects, in part by stimulating detoxifying enzymes in the liver. In another study, vitamin C was shown to block the formation of fecal mutagens.
According to one study cited by Klatz and Goldman and conducted by researchers at the University of California/Los Angeles in 1992, of 11,000 people, men who consumed the most Vitamin C (about 150 milligrams a day) had a 35 percent lower mortality rate than men who consumed only 30 milligrams a day. According to them, some 120 studies show that “Vitamin C is a virtual vaccination against cancer.” The vitamin is also vital in protecting the brain; especially in conjunction with vitamin E. Alzheimer’s patients have very low brain vitamin C levels.
So, the recipe for cancer-free and radiant health may lie just in front of you. Don’t forget to take your vitamins, your Vitamin C that is.