Vitamin C Revisited

I had the privilege of working with Linus Pauling on several occassions in the decades before his death and he introduced me to the experts he knew on Vitamin C. One of the criticisms on use of Vitamin C was that it was simply excreted in the urine, so taking a lot of it was of little benefit.

Pauling was one of the most intelligent and knowledgeable people I have met in my lifetime. Talking with him was like browsing through the Library of Congress as he had a truly encyclopedic mind. The data he provided Watson and Crick was a key element in their discovery of the structure of DNA and he was annoyed that they beat him out of his third Nobel prize.

In any event, Linus always argued that the blood plasma level of Vitamin C was the important factor and it was increased signficantly by taking a lot of Vitamin C. A recent study shows that this increase using oral intake is limited. However, an IV of Vitamin C raises blood plasma levels significantly.

Some preventive medicine experts advocate that you get a signed agreement from any hospital you enter that they will provide intravenous Vitamin C drips, as these will prevent most of the nosocomial infections that kill over 90000 people a year in the United States, not to mention promotion of healing and recovery from whatever ails you.

Vitamin C pharmacokinetics: implications for oral and intravenous use.

Padayatty SJ, Sun H, Wang Y, Riordan HD, Hewitt SM, Katz A, Wesley RA, Levine M.

Ann Intern Med. 2004 Apr 6;140(7):533-7

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the National Cancer Institute, and the Clinical Center, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892-1372, USA.

BACKGROUND: Vitamin C at high concentrations is toxic to cancer cells in vitro. Early clinical studies of vitamin C in patients with terminal cancer suggested clinical benefit, but 2 double-blind, placebo-controlled trials showed none. However, these studies used different routes of administration.

OBJECTIVE: To determine whether plasma vitamin C concentrations vary substantially with the route of administration.

DESIGN: Dose concentration studies and pharmacokinetic modeling.

SETTING: Academic medical center.

PARTICIPANTS: 17 healthy hospitalized volunteers.

MEASUREMENTS: Vitamin C plasma and urine concentrations were measured after administration of oral and intravenous doses at a dose range of 0.015 to 1.25 g, and plasma concentrations were calculated for a dose range of 1 to 100 g.

RESULTS: Peak plasma vitamin C concentrations were higher after administration of intravenous doses than after administration of oral doses (P < style="font-weight: bold;">LIMITATIONS: Patient data are not available to confirm pharmacokinetic modeling at high doses and in patients with cancer.

CONCLUSIONS: Oral vitamin C produces plasma concentrations that are tightly controlled. Only intravenous administration of vitamin C produces high plasma and urine concentrations that might have antitumor activity. Because efficacy of vitamin C treatment cannot be judged from clinical trials that use only oral dosing, the role of vitamin C in cancer treatment should be reevaluated.

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