Today's Post: Thursday, 4-12-2012
Most doctors know little about supplements including vitamins and minerals and are too busy to find out more unless they somehow get updated by their patients or other doctors who know more.
Some doctors have studied supplements and find they can get superior results with patients by using the indicated supplements. Since the supplements cost less than drugs and have virtually no side effects that harm quality of life, far more of their patients actually take the supplements than take many drugs.
The drug companies don’t like the competition from those supplements that do work but have none of the side effects most of their drugs do and the supplements cost less.
(Some drugs do important things and do them fast that supplements cannot do. And, for some things the drugs are the better choice. Then too some supplements may not be that effective.
But the drug companies appear to be deliberately misinforming doctors and the media and thus many of the rest of us about supplements that do work.)
So you may have seen headlines like “Vitamins are a waste of money or dangerous” AND “Vitamin E causes Prostate Cancer.”
But the truth is far different. Very different!
1. Most vitamins and minerals are beneficial and some are spectacularly beneficial.
There a few vitamins and minerals that do have side effects in doses that are too large. But if you know what level is safe on those few, those same vitamins and minerals can benefit you.
This makes the headline, “Vitamins are a waste of money or dangerous” false & I think deliberately misleading.
2. We know 4 things about vitamin E and prostate cancer. The headline as quoted, “Vitamin E causes Prostate Cancer" is completely false. And the other 3 things help prevent prostate cancer! (The study did not test real vitamin E but a poor artificial copy that was not real vitamin E!)
We covered vitamin E the first week in this series, on Tuesday, 3-13-2012.
We covered vitamin D3 last week, on Tuesday, 3-20-2012.
We covered vitamin B3, niacin, on Tuesday, 3-27-2012.
We covered the other B complex vitamins last week on Tuesday, 4-3-2012.
This week we cover vitamin C.
Except for making the symptoms slightly less for some people and sparing people who do a lot of vigorous exercise some colds, taking extra vitamin C doesn’t prevent colds or shorten them otherwise according to the research.
But taking larger doses does reduce allergies and, although this is less certainly proven, it does look to help prevent heart disease and other circulatory problems.
It tends to prevent or improve depression and may also slow aging.
People who eat little or no junk food and do eat a lot of fruits and vegetables and have one glass of real fruit or vegetable juice each day tend to get enough vitamin C to avoid scurvy.
Taking the 100 mg a day of vitamin C in most decent multivitamins also is enough to prevent scurvy.
The other benefits require taking 2,000 mg a day of vitamin C in divided doses.
Vitamin C’s main value is as an antioxidant.
Most plants and animals can make it themselves from glucose but people, other primates, and guinea pig rodents cannot.
Having enough glutathione helps vitamin C do more antioxidant work by resetting it to start over after it acts as an antioxidant.
Taking the amino acid NAC causes the body to release more glutathione so likely would help vitamin C do more.
Your body uses more vitamin C when stressed, sick particularly when fighting off bacterial infections, or when injured. Vitamin C also helps make and replace collagen and neurotransmitters.
100 mg a day which many people get from food is enough to prevent scurvy. People who eat only junk food and never take vitamins may not.
Taking more vitamin C than that as a supplement is thought to add significantly to your protection from heart attacks, obstructive or ischemic strokes, and other problems caused by reduced blood circulation.
Researcher Linus Pauling and Dr Matthias Rath also has said that due to its effect on collagen repair you will have far less damage to your endothelium, the inside surface of your blood vessels, by taking 500 to 2,000 mg a day of vitamin C.
Since the patches your body makes on such damage tend to build up plaque inside your blood vessels over time, they say this is a significant cause of heart disease you can prevent by taking that much vitamin C.
A strong argument for this case Dr Rath makes is that animals who make their own vitamin C make more than the equivalent of 2,000 mg a day of vitamin C AND never develop heart disease.
I read of a study that found people who took that much vitamin C and deodorized garlic at the same time even showed some reduction in plaque in their blood vessels.
I take 1600 mg of vitamin C at the beginning of my day and 500 mg a day after dinner because I find this persuasive.
I also eat berries, apple sauce with no sugar, bananas, and raw broccoli florets and drink 100 % cranberry juice once a day every week and eat other fruit and vegetables as I have the opportunity. These foods have vitamin C and other key nutrients and also may well have co-factors to make vitamin C more effective.
Completely avoiding tobacco smoke and getting enough exercise and avoiding foods that also cause plaque build up such as hydrogenated oils, too much sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and refined grains is also critical because doing the reverse has been shown to cause plaque build up. Eliminating those foods also helps you become and stay less fat.
Similarly getting enough omega 3 oils and limiting foods high in omega 6 reduces chronic inflammation and eating spices like ginger and turmeric that reduce inflammation both help to prevent the damage to the insides of your blood vessels that also cause plaque build up. Using only extra virgin olive oil is a good way to avoid the cheap and harmful oils high in omega 6. Eating super low fat versions of protein from grain fed animals or better yet eating wild caught fish and meat animals fed only grass instead helps avoid excess omega 6 oils. So does eating beans, lentils, and black-eyed peas instead of grain fed meat. Taking omega 3 supplements also helps. Not eating refined grains and only eating 100 % whole grains in careful moderation also help you avoid excess omega 6 oils.
Note that virtually eliminating eating any foods made from refined grains helps you prevent heart disease both ways! It will also help make you less fat and stay that way.
If you do the reverse of these things, extra vitamin C may limit the damage; but it may not do enough by itself.
But I believe that adding the extra vitamin C to doing these things adds to the protection they give you and that it can help repair some of the damage if you don't do it perfectly or did not know to do so in the past.
Then too studies have found that getting this extra vitamin C and other antioxidants allows you to do more vigorous exercise without getting sick.
There is also reason to believe that the extra vitamin C and the neurotransmitters it helps your body make prevents or lessens depression. In fact, I think I saw a study to that effect.
There also was a study that taking that much vitamin C helped prevent some of the shortening of your telomeres. That plus the antioxidant effect tends to slow aging.
Also, Wikipedia has information showing that taking 2,000 mg a day of vitamin C reduces virtually all allergic reactions by almost 40 % within a week of beginning. If you take that much all the time, it may do even better than that.
"Vitamin C is a natural antihistamine. It both prevents histamine release and increases the detoxification of histamine. A 1992 study found that taking 2 grams vitamin C daily lowered blood histamine levels 38 percent in healthy adults in just one week. It has also been noted that low concentrations of serum vitamin C has been correlated with increased serum histamine levels.
Wikipedia also has this: " A balanced diet without supplementation usually contains enough vitamin C to prevent scurvy in an average healthy adult, while those who are pregnant, smoke tobacco, or are under stress require slightly more. However, the amount of vitamin C necessary to prevent scurvy is less than the amount required for optimal health, as there are a number of other chronic diseases whose risk are increased by a low vitamin C intake, including cancer, heart disease, and cataracts."
They also note that taking more than 2,000 mg a day of vitamin C can cause diarrhea. If you get that, one way to stop it is to take part of your vitamin C at one time of day and the rest later in the day.
I do that. But I also do it to ensure my body has access to enough vitamin C all day since it is water soluble and I dislike using time release supplements or drugs when I can easily avoid it.
To be fair, many of the benefits of taking over 500 mg a day are less verified than I’d like.
I find the information suggesting 2,000 mg a day or at least 1,000 mg a day in divided doses of vitamin C daily persuasive.
It seems to work for me. My blood indicators for heart disease are almost all at the high optimal level. I look at least 10 to 15 year younger than my chronological age. And, despite having allergic hay fever and asthma as a child, I never have them now.
But at minimum, it’s clear you should take at least 100 mg a day of vitamin C. And eating enough fruit and nonstarchy vegetables each day not only will tend to give you that much vitamin C but dramatically improve your health in other ways.
Now you have a quick survey of vitamin C and the case for taking more this 100 mg a day minimum each day.
What you do with it is up to you!