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Molecular structure of ascorbic acid.

Vitamin C, chemically known as ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin. It was one of the first vitamins discovered; history tells of research done on sailors who, by adding limes and oranges to their diet, prevented the then very common disease scurvy.[1]

Sources[]

Vitamin C may be found in acerola cherries, rose hip, potatoes, spinach, strawberries, fresh fruit and vegetables (Vitamin A will degrade almost completely within the first week after being picked), especially lemons, oranges, mangoes and grapefruit.[2]

Physiological role[]

Vitamin C plays a part in the synthesis of collagen in the Human body.[1]

History[]

Vitamin C was one of the first vitamins identified and used. Texts dating back to the year 1611 mention lemon juice as a remedy for scurvy. This theory was tested and proven by an englishman in 1757. However, theis knowledge took a long time in being implemented; the disease was still common aboard ships of the British Navy more than a century later, in 1875.[2]

Therapeutic value[]

Antioxidant[]

Vitamin C is an antioxidant, which helps reduce the damage caused to cells in the body by free radicals. It has a close relationship with Vitamin E in this respect.[1]

Cancer[]

Vitamin C has been shown to play a vital part in the body's resistance to neoplastic disease, which determines both how suceptible the body is to cancer and how well it responds to treatment.[3] Large quantities of intravenous vitamin C has also been seen to improve prognosis in terminal cancer patients; for details, see below.[4]

Obesity prevention[]

A study has shown that vitamin C has properties which help reduce excessive accumulation of fat in the body. This may point to the vitamin being able to reduce risk of obesity.[5]

Common cold and influenza[]

When combined with garlic and echinacea, vitamin C supplements with bioflavonoids has a fortifying effect on the immune system. This would help the body fight such common ailments as the flu and the common cold.[1]

Remarkable studies[]

Pauling & Cameron[]

In 1976 and 1978 chemist Linus Pauling and dr. Ewan Cameron conducted studies showing better prognoses in terminal cancer patients when treated with large doses of liquid vitamin C. The basis of the study was that vitamin C is known to take part in a number of processes that help the body in its struggle against diseases. Also, cancer patients were found to be depleted of ascorbic acid. Thus the assumption was that by correcting this deficiancy the body would be better able to deal with the malignant cancer cells on its own.

Cameron and Pauling set up a clinical trial in which 100 terminal cancer patients were treated with doses of 10-20 grams of vitamin C daily. These patients were then compared to a control group of 1.000 patients with identical conditions and treatments, who were not given vitamin C. All patients included in both the group of patients treated with vitamin C and patients in the control group had all been treated to the full extent of conventional treatments, including chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone treatment and surgery. All patients in both groups were deemed "untreatable" by any conventional means.

The study showed that mean survival rate for the patients given vitamin C was more than 210 days, more than 4.2 times the mean survival rate of 50 days in the control group. Additionally, 90% of the patients treated with vitamin C showed three times longer survival time compared to the control group, while the remaining 10% showed up to 20 times the survival time. Moreover, patients treated with vitamin C had greater quality of life in their final days.[4]

Pauling and Camerons studies were replicated by a team of japanese scientist in 1979 and 1982, with similar results. Another study, the Mayo Clinic trials of 1979 and 1985 is often qouted as disproving these finds; however, the Mayo Clinic chose to make some major alterations to the procedures, thus making direct comparison rather difficult, if not impossible.[2]

In culture[]

The author and two times Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling did extensive research on vitamin C; on several occasions he attributed his longevity and good health to his daily intake of as much as 10 to 18 grams of vitamin C.[1][2]

References[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Askew, G. & Paquette, J. (2007) (in english). Secrets of Supplements (1st ed.). PhyteMedia. pp. 15, 137. ISBN 978-0-9784290-0-3. http://www.phytemedia.com. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Flytlie, K.T. (2007) (in danish). Vitaminer og mineraler (1st ed.). People'sPress. p. 11, 16, 28+. ISBN 978-87-91293-97-9. http://www.vitamindoktor.com. 
  3. Cameron, E. & Pauling, L. (July 15, 1974). "The orthomolecular treatment of cancer - the role of ascorbic acid in host resistance" (in english) (PDF). Chemico-Biological Interactions (Amsterdam: Elsevier Scientific Publishing Company) 9 (1974): pp. 273-283. ISSN 0009-2797. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=MImg&_imagekey=B6T56-479DHBR-3G-1&_cdi=4994&_user=9843589&_pii=0009279774900180&_origin=search&_coverDate=10%2F31%2F1974&_sk=999909995&view=c&wchp=dGLzVtb-zSkWA&md5=c766eff7db9d906fa175f90e0d3646b0&ie=/sdarticle.pdf. Retrieved November 7, 2010. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Cameron, E. & Pauling, L. (August 10, 1976). "Supplemental ascorbate in the supportive treatment of cancer: Prolongation of survival times in terminal human cancer" (in english) (PDF). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 73 (10): pp. 3685-3689. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC431183/pdf/pnas00040-0366.pdf. Retrieved november 06, 2010. 
  5. Garcia-Diaz DF, Campion J, Milagro F, Boque N, Moreno-Aliaga M, Martinez JA. "Vitamin C inhibits leptin secretion and some glucose/lipid metabolic pathways in primary rat adipocytes" (in english). http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20400526. 
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