Does vitamin C really do something?

This publish has been up to date. It was initially printed on April 4, 2017.

Linus Pauling gained two Nobel Prizes, helped uncover the character of chemical bonds, recognized sickle cell anemia as a molecular illness, elucidated a few of the most typical protein constructions, revolutionized our understanding of primate evolution, and is broadly hailed as one of many fathers—if not the father—of molecular biology.

Oh, and he nearly single-handedly unfold one of many greatest medical misconceptions of all time: that vitamin C prevents colds.

Just like the way more malicious delusion that vaccines trigger autism, it started with quackery. Pauling first heard concerning the marvel that’s (or actually, isn’t) vitamin C from a person named “Dr.” Stone, who was a health care provider in a lot the identical manner {that a} koala bear is a bear—that’s, he wasn’t. However gosh darnit if that was going to maintain Pauling from believing that 3000 milligrams of vitamin C would resolve nearly each ailment he may consider.

He and Stone carried out a shoddy scientific trial that claimed to show their level, which different researchers famous had a elementary flaw: The folks handled with vitamin C had been more healthy to start with, and so naturally had higher outcomes. That didn’t cease Pauling, although. When he printed a ebook on the matter in 1970, Vitamin C and the Frequent Chilly, the American public went loopy for it. In spite of everything, right here was a person so sensible that he was (and nonetheless is) the one individual ever to win two unshared Nobel Prizes and certainly one of solely two folks to win Nobels in several fields (chemistry and peace). Certainly he is aware of what he’s speaking about.

Pauling went on to say that prime doses of the complement may treatment every little thing from coronary heart illness to leprosy, and even most cancers. And the general public purchased it. By no means thoughts that each skilled medical group on the planet rejected the concept as baseless—right here was a Very Good Man telling the nice folks of Earth that if solely they took vitamin dietary supplements they may resolve all their well being issues.

[Related: There are only 13 actual vitamins, and you’ll die without them]

Right here’s the snag: vitamin C doesn’t forestall colds and it doesn’t forestall most cancers, nor does it treatment both ailment. Some research have discovered proof that common utilization may shorten the period of your chilly, however not when taken after the onset. Others have discovered associations with increased day by day dosages and decrease threat of heart problems, although nonetheless different research have proven no relationship in anyway. The identical goes for cataracts, pneumonia, tetanus, bronchial asthma, and liver illness.

As for most cancers, the best-quality information present that vitamin C dietary supplements haven’t any impact in your chance of getting most cancers, nor on the result of most cancers after you have it. It’s attainable that it will probably assist sure therapies to work higher, however equally doubtless that it inhibits different forms of therapies. And whereas some small research have discovered that extraordinarily excessive doses do kill most cancers cells, that’s solely when the vitamin is given intravenously. Doses direct to your bloodstream can drastically improve the quantity of vitamin C in your plasma—oral dietary supplements can’t.

In a tragic ironic twist, Linus Pauling died of prostate most cancers in 1994, whereas his spouse died years earlier of abdomen most cancers.

The essential upshot is that this: taking vitamin C dietary supplements will, in all chance, haven’t any impact in your well being. Because it’s a water-soluble vitamin, any extra you soak up will merely be excreted out in your pee. The best threat is that you just’ll get diarrhea or another imprecise gastrointestinal issues (assuming that you just don’t have hereditary hemochromatosis, or iron overload, by which case it will probably really trigger long-term injury to your inner tissues).

Taking vitamin C day-after-day most likely gained’t damage you, however you nearly definitely don’t want it. It’s simple to get sufficient in your weight-reduction plan with out popping capsules. You could find it in oranges, garlic, strawberries, chili peppers, kiwi, beef liver, oysters, guava, broccoli, parsley, onion, peach, apples, pears, carrots, bananas, avocados, plums, and a complete host of different meals that you just by no means realized had vitamin C in them or probably have by no means heard of (see: camu camu, seabuckthorn, and cloudberries).

All this being stated, when you have a vitamin C deficiency it’s best to completely take dietary supplements. As any 18th century sailor will inform you, scurvy isn’t any joke. And even when it doesn’t get that far, you want vitamin C to make collagen, heal wounds, produce some neurotransmitters, and assist your immune system. Most individuals get loads of it from their weight-reduction plan, however deficiencies persist in developed international locations in individuals who eat junk meals nearly completely. In any other case the issue has largely disappeared as the overall inhabitants has gained common entry to a wide range of fruit and greens.

So, like nearly all nutritional vitamins, there’s actually no have to take vitamin C until you may have a real deficiency. Which you most likely don’t. Take into account this your license to cease shopping for these chilly treatments containing megadoses of vitamin C and synthetic orange taste to attempt to trick you into considering they’re appetizing. Simply eat a daily orange and be finished with it.


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