From: Bonnie MacEvoy <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: Ambros Prechtl <email@example.com>: Mega Dose Vitamin C
I am a physician, a graduate (PhD) student in nutrition, and Masters in
Public Health with a nutrition track. I am a vegetarian and very well-read
on non-medical nutritional issues. I do not agree with your Vitamin C
rhetoric. I do not argue that vitamin C is bad or does not have benefits -
I believe it well may. But we must separate what we chose to believe and
advocate from what we can claim as fact.
>I said: A group of doctors -- disciples of Linus Pauling -- has shown
In this case "shown" needs to be replaced with "contend that". In the
nutritional world of biochemical science, and in the medical world, this is
not proven dogma, as you imply.
>mega Vitamin C can "oxidize" viral diseases (hepatitis, viral pneumonia,
>viral bronchitis, measles, herpes, meningitis) right out of the system, can
>arrest various forms of cancer (lymphomas, leukemias), can perform
>miracles in immunological disorders, can arrest the ravages of AIDS.
Vitamin C, an antioxidant, can do many wonderful things. Whether it has its
own Mega Cure or whether it is treating a deficiency in someone who might me
deprived of the water soluble vitamin in times of disease are debatable
(hotly). It does not "oxidize" viral diseases; rather some of their
systemic side effects.
> In response to my post, Charlotte asked me to provide citations to
>articles in refereed journals about these "miracles".
> Well, here are a few of the references I have in my files.
Having a long list of references does not prove your point. Each article
needs to be scrutinized for secondary gain, funding source, and sources of
error, such as reporter bias, lack of control, and confounding issues that
render good data useless.
>Director of Cardiovascular Research, Linus Pauling Institute, who
>presents pretty convincing evidence that, apart from aerobic exercise,
>Vitamin C offers the best protection there is against heart and vascular
Heart and vascular disease are multifactorial and develop over decades.
Studies on these diseases are some of the most difficult to conduct for this
reason. "Pretty" convincing evidence says it all: not good enough.
>He demonstrates that cholesterol is not the main culprit -- if it is
>culprit at all --
If he has truly "demonstrated" this, it has not yet made mainstream literature.
>in atherosclerosis, something Naturopathy has
>known for a long time and which the medical establishment won't be able
>to refuse to admit much longer.
I resent your implication that practitioners in medicine choose to "refuse"
to admit to something. To what end? We want the best for our patients and
that is why we wait, to the best of our ability, for science that makes
sense and holds water.
> Dr. Barton reminds of what some of us have known for a while -- that
>domestic dogs and cats, though they practice the same lifestyles as their
>masters -- eat refined junk plus cholesterol and do not exercise -- have no
Cardiac failure is a very common cause of death in animals.
>The difference is Vitamin C, the fact that the animals
>make their own Vitamin C, and lots of it.
Aside from goats and fruit bats, few mammals make their own vitamin C.
> By the way, I would like you or someone else on the List to supply
>some real evidence that high doses of C are dangerous; e.g., that they can
>be expected predictably to produce kidney stones in a certain percentage
>of the population, one of the charges leveled against the nutrient by the
Ascorbic acid or any substance taken in excess can change the acid-base
balance in the body. Not to pick on vitamin C or any other vitamin, but in
these large doses any substance can cause problems. For example, one of the
problems cited in my studies in nutrition in graduate school was from
pregnant moms who take mega doses, only to have babies that experience
symptoms of vitamin C deficiency soon after birth when the high doses from
the placenta are no longer reaching them.
>I know scores of people that take between 3 and 10 grams
>of C a day; not one of them has complained of kidney stones
There is a selection bias here - most people who take mega doses are also
watching other aspects of their health - drink lots of water, exercise, etc.
>I spent seven years in one of Nature's vast laboratories -- in Saudi Arabia
>-- where kidney stones are as common as the common cold though
>Saudis are not known to be takers of high doses, let alone mega doses, of
Dehydration and a high protein diet abound in these areas, also a selection
bias. Are you really saying Saudi is a vast laboratory? I know some people
who would be offended at that.
>So, the people who take C don't have kidney stones while the
>people who have kidney stones don't take C. I know, these are not
>double-blind studies but the numbers involved here are so big that one
>must concede them some statistical value.
Absolutely no statistical value because they are different populations and
anecdotes have caused many a medical problem. Take a group of Saudis who
are otherwise exactly the same age and eat the same foods, give some of them
placebo, some of the vitamin C (varied doses), and some of them as control
with no substance given at all and then look at the numbers over time. Such
attention to detail may then give answers that can then be used to dictate
whether something is a good idea or not.
> The average doctor does not know this. Too busy making money to keep
>abreast of what's new, (s)he relies on drug companies for his/her update in
Excuse me, but the average doctor is too busy taking care of patients, many
of them nearly for free. It is our job to keep abreast of what's new, and
try to ferret out the sources of information that are bogus, biased, and
untrue. Pharmacy companies have a secondary gain and are not a legitimate
source of information. Most doctors use continuing medical education and
critically reviewed journals for their input, as mandated by the various
licensing agencies and hospital privileging committees.
>though I am sure their best brains know that there would be a tremendous
>improvement in popular health if people regularly took high doses of Vitamin
I am afraid their "best brains" would disagree with you. Sorry.
Vitamin C is not patented, is cheap and available to anyone, so you are
right that there is little interest by the drug companies in funding studies
that will provide information about it. That does not mean there is not an
interest in it. I do not do what the drug companies "urge" me to do, in
fact outside our work area we have a sign prohibiting entry of their sales
> Till you prove the contrary, I hold that the warnings against mega
>C that come from the medical establishment are baseless. I have hinted
>above why the Establishment should be against the taking of high doses of
I do not know anyone in my medical community that is against high doses of
Vitamin C. They just cannot advocate it to their patients. We are trained
to approach things from the scientific model, and patients access us knowing
that is our bias. We do not and cannot recommend things that are not
accepted as "standard of care", or we are subject to intense scrutiny that
may even include loss of licensure.
>NB: I have been taking between 5 and 10 grams of C a day for more than
>20 years. How would you balance this against the fact that, though I am
>old enough to be the great-grand-father of some of the people on the List,
>I have taken no drugs in the past quarter century.
It has caused you no harm, if you ever decide to take less wean yourself
down slowly, and I bet you are devoid of other lifestyle risk factors such
as smoking, heavy alcohol, and a bad diet.
>Charlotte asks: What is the maximum amount of vitamin C that can be
>absorbed by the body per day when taken orally? What happens to that
>which is taken and not absorbed?
The amount varies widely from person to person. The half life of vitamin C
is only 12 hours, so which ever doses you take, make it a twice daily event
(divide your dose in half and take one in the morning and one at dinner).
Vitamin C facilitates the absorption of other vitamins and minerals, but no
one knows what happens to this relationship with mega doses (therefore best
to take at a different time that other vitamin dosing). What is not
absorbed is largely excreted in the urine.
>Vitamin C are NOT concerned about the waste of money resulting from
>the use of some very expensive drugs, some of which call attention
>to themselves less by the good they do you than by the nasty side effects
>that come in their wake.
Nothing may be given if its known side effects outweigh its potential
benefits. Sounds like you have a nasty grudge against the medical
profession. That is not an attitude that will ever help sway them to your
beliefs. I see the ideal as all practitioners bringing their expertise
together and offering all vantages to disease. This will not happen if turf
issues and posturing keep us apart.
>Vitamin C works its near-miracle(s) chiefly in these four ways: as one
>of our most trustworthy anti-oxydants
it keeps free radicals at bay; it
>builds and rebuilds the immune system and so helps the body-mind ensemble
>the better to cope with stress of every description, colds included
It *helps* rebuild them immune system; it does not do so alone. A well
balanced diet and all those good things in fresh fruits and vegetables help
too, as well as many other aspects of one's diet and life-style.
>promotes collagen synthesis, something that is vital for virtually
>every kind of repair work;
it "tranquilizes" as effectivly as some
>of the major tranquilizers without exacting the price of nasty side
Credible references, please? The "Major tranquilizers" are pretty potent,
including anesthetics. I fear a strong placebo effect here.
>All told, there is no substance in the pharmacopea of orthodox
>medicine or outside it that does as much good as Vitamin C.
Frankly, no drug is a good drug. Less is better.
Why won't you undertake to prove me RIGHT -- that is, start
>taking high doses of Vitamin C and be prepared for a future not blighted
>by colds. Nothing to lose but LOTS to gain. Dare to be your own
Anecdotes are not research. Two people doing the same thing does not prove
them right. It just proves one to be gullible. You really seem to have a
lot invested in this personally. I wonder at your objectivity on the issue.
> If I were a PWFMS, I'd not hesitate to try mega doses of C for a while --
>take it till I reach body tolerance -- till, that is, some rumblings would
>develop in the lower half of my middle -- and then back off a bit but continue
>to take the highest doses of C I could tolerate, say a minimum of 5 grams and
>up to 15 grams a day, divided into 5 to 10 smaller doses, for several weeks.
In these doses, Vitamin C would be called a drug. Do you have a license to
make such prescriptions to someone you have never examined or interviewed?
>Knowing how much of difference high doses of Vitamin C make in virtually every
>other facet of health
You don't know this, you believe this. Let us decide what we want to believe.
Bonnie MacEvoy, MD, MPH
and graduate student in nutrition