Vitamin C

Summary: Use vitamin C as required. Get a powdered form since it is cheaper and usually more effective. Taking a total of 3 grams per day is a good measure for maintenance. Use in divided amounts, using less if it causes diarrhea or other flushing symptoms (see text below), and build up to required dose as the body acclimates. Dosage schedule as some vitamin C advocates define it, in grams per day. Note that 1 gram equals 1000 mg.

Very low dose: < 1 gram.
Low dose: 1 to 3 grams.
Medium dose: 3 to 15 grams.
High dose: 15 to 30 grams.
Very high dose: 30 to 50 grams.
Ultra high dose: 50 grams or more.

Vitamin E, preferably Mixed Tocopherols, should be taken when significant amounts of vitamin C are being used long term. Supplements which contain iron should not be used when taking large amounts of vitamin C, especially ascorbic acid, since it can increase iron absorption too much. While plain ascorbic acid (vitamin C) medium or higher dose therapy may be the most beneficial method to fight illness short term in some cases, it is generally best to switch to a mineral ascorbates product after a week or two to help prevent mineral depletion. A good diet rich in fruit and vegetables should also be followed to provide additional nutrients.

To use large amounts of vitamin C, get a powdered product, many of which are available in health food stores. If one is not used to taking vitamin C, start with a small amount mixed in water or juice, enough to get a single gram or less of vitamin C. If it causes stomach upset or diarrhea, use half as much for the next dose. The body will quickly adjust to taking more and more without upset or diarrhea, but if these still occur, continue taking small amounts until tolerance builds.

Vitamin C, known as ascorbic acid in its uncombined state, is probably one of the most beneficial single vitamins to take for fighting many chronic and degenerative maladies as well as acute illnesses. The main problem with supplementation is that people usually take an insignificant amount.

Humans are one of the few animals (guinea pigs being another) who cannot synthesize ascorbic acid and must ensure it is in the diet, although there is some evidence that other nutrients such as DHA (see Fats and Oils) can be converted to ascorbic acid when there is enough glutathione available. Humans have to consume 3-12 grams of vitamin C per day to get the average amount that is produced by ascorbic-acid-synthesizing animals. Low dose vitamin C supplementation is therefore considered this amount - 3g per day or less. More is taken as required. Many of the "super antioxidants" like grape seed extract, curcumin, pycnogenol, glutathione, and others, as well as vitamin E, scavenge and preserve vitamin C in the body such that less may be necessary to provide the same benefit if using one of these. However, one must first be consuming adequate vitamin C for these supplements to have the most benefit.

When using high dose vitamin C it is preferably taken in powder form, mixed into a liquid like water or juice. Using a lot of capsules or tablets at one time is not recommended since they can cause stomach upset. There are many powdered forms available in health food stores and online.

There is debate as to the best chemical forms of vitamin C to take. Some proponents (including Hulda Clark and Dr. Cathcart) say to use plain ascorbic acid and some say to use a buffered form, which generally means it is less acid since it is bound to a mineral like calcium, magnesium, potassium, and/or sodium. Some think that sodium ascorbate is the best form to fight illness since the sodium does appear to help in some cases, but others contend that the reducing power of plain ascorbic acid fights pathogens better. Using a calcium or sodium ascorbate product for high dose or above may provide too much of the particular mineral. However, mineral ascorbate products that contain a small amount of calcium and magnesium can be helpful taken in amounts to get around 100% RDA of calcium and 100-200% RDA magnesium. Ingredient lists from the Electroherbalism Favorite Supplements section shows the quantities they contain in the Additional Information (pink) section below.

As shown in the table below, Nutribiotic makes some excellent mineral ascorbate vitamin C formulas, including ones with bioflavonoids, electrolytes, and other minerals. Two of these are Nutribiotic Hypo-Aller C and Nutribiotic Ascorbate Bio-C.They must both be added to water to allow them to effervesce before consuming. The Hypo-Aller C contains 350mg each of calcium and magnesium with small amounts of a couple other minerals like potassium and zinc. It is excellent to use as a calcium magnesium supplement, taking a teaspoon before bed mixed in water. The Bio-C contains bioflavonoids with a smaller amount of calcium and magnesium in a 2:1 ratio with a few other minerals, including potassium, manganese, zinc, chromium, and selenium. It is excellent for allergies and probably fights disease a bit better. It is one of the best vitamin C product to combat snoring, too. The Hypo-Aller C tastes a bit better, dissolves more easily, and is closer to neutral pH, if these are considerations. The main problem with these two products is they are difficult to find. Many health food stores carry the Nutribiotic line (mostly grapefruit extract products) and can order the C products, though, or they can be found a few places online.

A good "pocket" regimen for acute illness is oregano oil and packets of Emergen-C, another type of effervescent mineral ascorbates product that comes in small packets, usually 36 per box and come in many different flavors, with and without sugar. There are different varieties of Emergen-C for specific purposes, such as one with glucosamine and chondroitin to fight arthritis, one that includes a gram of MSM per serving, one with cranberry for urinary tract problems, They can easily be carted around in a purse or pocket for use whenever needed. Mix a single packet of Emergen-C, or more depending on the need, in water, add 3 to 10 drops of prediluted oregano oil, mix well, and swig (avoid letting oregano oil touch the lips since it will burn). A good prediluted oregano oil is made by North American Herb and Spice Co. and widely available in health food stores.

Another product that deserves mention is Nutribiotic's Meta-C. It is a pH neutral form of vitamin bound to phytoplankton, which may be helpful in reducing toxic metal deposits in the body. It comes in capsules, tablets, or powder, but the powder is not recommended due to the taste and the difficulty in mixing in liquid. NSI makes a product called Vitamin C with Bioflavonoids, Quercetin, Green Tea, Lysine, and Proline, an encapsulated product with ascorbic acid form of vitamin C. Although probably beneficial for most heart and circulation problems, it does not contain adequate magnesium for this purpose (as do good mineral ascorbates products) but is instead recommended by NSI for cancer.

A good vitamin C formula for general heart and circulation health, as well as an instant remedy for some heart problems like angina, is Source Naturals L-Proline L-Lysine. It is a Linus Pauling Mathias Rath based formula which provides a large amount of vitamin C in the form of calcium and magnesium ascorbates plus proline and lysine. Electroherbalism once recommended Jarrow Formulas TLC 3.0, an effervescent proline lysine minerals ascorbates powder product, but for reasons unknown, this excellent formula has been discontinued. Since the Source Naturals product provides mineral ascorbates, especially magnesium, and not just ascorbic acid as is found in the "NSI Vitamin C with Bioflavonoids, Proline, Lysine", it is better for most cases. However, the Source Naturals Proline Lysine does not really provide enough magnesium by itself unless large amounts are taken (3 tablets three times per day), but combined with another good heart and circulation supplement, Futurebiotics Pressur-Lo, the combination is sufficient.

Suitability of some Mineral Ascorbates products for medium to high dose vitamin C therapy.

Nutribiotic Hypo-Aller C - An effervescent vitamin C and mineral supplement which is mixed in water to bubble before consuming. A rounded teaspoon provides:
Vitamin C 2600 mg 4332%
Calcium 350 mg 36%
Magnesium 350mg 88%
Potassium 100 mg 3%
Zinc 6 mg 40%
Nutribiotic powdered vitamin C and mineral products are highly recommended but becoming harder to find.

THEREFORE, using 3 teaspoons per day would provide 7.8g (7800mg) vitamin C, 1050mg calcium, and 1050mg magnesium, making it suitable for medium dose vitamin C therapy.

Twinlab Super Ascorbate C - Excellent mineral ascorbates formula is an effervescent powder and must be mixed in water or juice before use. Contains a lot of bioflavonoids. One of the few mineral ascorbates products that can be used in high dose vitamin C therapy and limiting to around 100% RDA of calcium and 135% RDA of magnesium for every 20g (20,000mg or 10 tsp) of vitamin C. However, this large amount of bioflavonoids, while helpful in smaller amounts, might cause acid indigestion in very large amounts. One teaspoon supplies:
Vitamin C from potassium ascorbate, calcium ascorbate, magnesium ascorbate, zinc ascorbate, manganese ascorbate) 2,000 mg 3333%
Calcium (from calcium ascorbate) 106 mg 10%
Magnesium (from magnesium ascorbate) 54 mg 13%
Zinc (from zinc ascorbate) 5 mg 33%
Manganese (from manganese ascorbate) .25 mg 12%
Potassium (from potassium ascorbate) 120 mg 3%
Rose (Rosa Camina) Hips Extract 585 mg *
Acerola Extract 400 mg *
Bioflavonoids (from lemons) 500 mg *
Rutin 25 mg *
Hesperidin Complex 25 mg


Pauling Lecture is a short report on one of Pauling's last speeches, in August of 1993.

Dr. Zoltan Rona with some vitamin C basics.

Dr. Cathcart on Vitamin C and Allergy Treatment

The Pauling/Rath website is poorly done and mostly a front to sell supplements, but has the most information on Pauling and the continuation of his ascorbate therapy by Dr. Rath (see Linus Pauling/Matthias Rath Unified Theory of Heart Disease) Although a bit expensive, the primarily lysine and ascorbic acid Rath formula is probably one of the best around to immediately relieve some circulation problems, including angina, atherosclerosis, and other heart disease, especially when taken with a good multivitamin and cal-mag supplement as directed.

Dr. Cathcart on High Dose C is a paper he presented on using high dose vitamin C therapy in the treatment of numerous illnesses including colds, mononucleosis, hepatitis, cancer, bacterial and viral infections, arthritis and joint pain, scarlet fever, herpes, SID, allergies, burns, and many other conditions. It is a lot easier to find information here than in his website below.

Dr. Cathcart's OrthoMolecular Medicine is his rudimentary but informative website that provides extensive information on the treatment of many illnesses with vitamin C and is frequently updated with current information such as fighting bioterrorism pathogens, plus has hundreds of links to more information.

Links and additional info on Vitamin C Controversy

I am hesitant to provide information on rebuttals to a single study which showed a possible harmful effect on arteries of taking low doses (500mg) of vitamin C daily, or one which showed potential DNA damage to cells, especially when there are hundreds of studies which show the exact opposite and these are never mentioned in the media. I regard any information on nutritional supplements from conventional medical organizations or media suspect and would more rely on those who have experience, knowledge, and integrity in such matters. But, since there are people who have not yet developed a healthy skepticism of studies indirectly or directly funded by organizations and companies with a profit motive in denigrating complementary therapies, here are a few:

AHA Attack on Vitamin C contains short rebuttals from the Linus Pauling Institute, Vitamin C Foundation, and Dr. Cathcart to the American Heart Association's report that vitamin C may have negative effects on artery thickness.

The Vitamin C Controversy by the Life Extension Foundation

Does Vitamin C cause DNA damage?

Vitamin C, Arteries, and other Connective Tissues A post on conventional medical studies and vitamin C.

Vitamin C: Always an Antioxidant

At long last, intravenous vitamin C is being used with substantial frequency by many different doctors, with consistently strongly positive results. This newsletter was written to help clarify some erroneous concepts about such infusions that are being passed along now as some sort of accepted scientific fact.

The last thing this extremely useful therapeutic modality needs is to be misunderstood and no longer used appropriately.

Best regards,

Thomas E. Levy<>, MD, JD

<>HEALTH E-BYTES Issue No. 10

March, 2008

Vitamin C: Always an Antioxidant

Vitamin C, containing the ascorbate anion in all of its various forms (ascorbic acid, sodium ascorbate, calcium ascorbate, or mineral ascorbates), is solely an antioxidant, or reducing agent. That is to say, vitamin C only has electrons to donate. It cannot, under any circumstances, take electrons away from surrounding tissues and act directly as an oxidizing agent. To think otherwise is to create a form of biochemistry that violates the natural laws of electron flow and exchange. Only oxidized vitamin C (dehydroascorbate) is capable of receiving electrons, and this is never the type of vitamin C that is administered as a supplement or a therapy.

There appears to have developed a pattern of thinking that high-dose vitamin C therapy can somehow change the basic chemical characteristics of vitamin C, such that vitamin C becomes an oxidizing agent and stops acting as a reducing agent at elevated doses. In other words, an increasing number of individuals are asserting that vitamin C will somehow assume a different chemical nature above a certain dose and start taking electrons out of its surrounding environment rather than continuing to donate them. Some individuals are even asserting that high-dose vitamin C is always prooxidant, an outlandishly incorrect notion. This is very flawed thinking, which can ultimately lead to clinical decisions that are not in the best interests of the patients being treated.

What may have caused this continuing confusion over the nature of vitamin C is that there are at least two circumstances under which the administration of vitamin C (or any other antioxidant) can result in a clinically definable net prooxidant effect. In other words, under such conditions the administration of vitamin C would appear to be oxidizing its surroundings rather than reducing them. However, it is extremely important to emphasize that it is a overall clinical effect of apparent oxidation that is taking place, and not that vitamin C has suddenly stopped donating electrons and started taking them away. This is a very important point to understand, and it is of much more than just academic interest that this point is appreciated.

In one well-documented situation, a defined path of electron transfer known as the Fenton reaction occurs. This usually only occurs to the point that it is noticeable clinically when a lower amount of vitamin C is present with a larger than normal presence of ferric (Fe3+) or cupric (Cu2+) ion [iron or copper]. In the presence of these ions at just the right limited dose of vitamin C, the ascorbate entity donates its electrons and reduces these ions to their ferrous (Fe2+) or cuprous (Cu1+) forms. These reduced metal ions are then able to pass these donated electrons along to any hydrogen peroxide locally present and thereby generate the hydroxyl radical, an extremely reactive and oxidizing free radical. Hydrogen peroxide is normally poorly reactive but the contribution of electrons to it result in a prompt oxidative effect. The hydroxyl radical produced by this electron donation to hydrogen peroxide will oxidize (take electrons away from) virtually any organic molecule to which it is exposed.
However, larger amounts of vitamin C will reliably overwhelm this typically limited and very focal generation of hydroxyl radical, promptly repairing any oxidative damage done by it and keeping the observable net clinical effect to one of antioxidation and not oxidation.

It should be kept in mind that the Fenton reaction, with the ability to very focally cause a profound oxidative effect where the proper concentrations of iron or copper are situated in the presence of hydrogen peroxide and vitamin C, represents one of the important mechanisms in which appropriately dosed vitamin C can have a cancer cell-killing effect. Iron concentrations inside some cancer cells make them especially susceptible to properly dosed vitamin C by the intracellular generation of free radicals such as the hydroxyl radical noted above. Indeed, if such mechanisms did not exist, vitamin C would strongly support the health of everything in the body, including microorganisms and cancer cells. However, quite the opposite is true, and such mechanisms as the Fenton reaction need to exist for vitamin C to have its well-documented ability to target many different infections and some types of cancer cells, while strongly supporting the health of the normal cells and tissues in the body.

In another clinical situation, much less well-documented in the scientific literature than the Fenton reaction, a given individual will react in what clinically appears to be an unpredictable and idiosyncratic manner. When such an individual receives a larger, multigram dose of vitamin C intravenously, there can appear some degree of clinical deterioration, rather than the much more typical response of a substantial and improved degree of clinical well-being.
What is happening here is that most adults have significant intracellular stores of a wide variety of toxins and toxic metabolic wastes. Just like the body has systems of elimination, the individual cell has such systems as well. In the cell, however, the process of elimination is powered by a number of different enzyme-driven mechanisms. In the very toxic individual, much of this enzyme function is itself suppressed or neutralized by the very toxins that are needed to be processed and eliminated. In such an individual, the sudden presence of a large influx of electrons such as is provided by an intravenous infusion of vitamin C results in a rapid "reactivation" of these enzymes, and toxins end up being excreted from the cells and effectively "dumped" quite rapidly into the bloodstream. When this occurs, the patient feels poorly, or at least less well. Ironically, but logically, the cessation of the infusion for a brief period of time (30 minutes to an hour), followed by a reinitiation of the infusion at a slower rate, results in rapid clinical improvement as the circulating vitamin C then "mops up" the prooxidative toxin effects while not continuing to cause as rapid a dump of toxins into the bloodstream.

To recap, then, vitamin C can never be anything other than an electron-donating antioxidant. However, in at least the two circumstances described above, the net effect of the vitamin C can result in a clinical picture of prooxidation and increased symptoms of toxicity. However, these occurrences are relatively rare, and when they do occur they are easily remedied when the mechanisms behind them are understood.

Copyright: 2008 by Thomas E. Levy, M.D., J.D.
All Rights Reserved; Reproduction Permitted only with Acknowledgement and of the Entire Document

Consider forwarding this newsletter to your personal email lists or to specific friends who may be interested in the information. Thanks