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Recent Discoveries Involving Vitamin C

 
wg
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12/31/2006 11:24 PM
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Recent Discoveries Involving Vitamin C
Researchers Yi Li and Herb E. Schellhorn at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada report that humans, having lost their ability to produce vitamin C like most other animals many generation ago, are subject to premature aging, and hypothesize that high blood levels of vitamin C provide broad ranging therapeutic benefits in treating age-related diseases. There has not only been a genetic mutation that has caused vitamin C production in the liver to cease, but also a drastic decrease in dietary vitamin C intake compared to early human ancestors who as hunter-gatherers consumed an estimated 600+ milligrams of vitamin C per day. Modern Americans consume only about 110 milligrams of vitamin C from their daily diet. Optimal levels of vitamin C are advocated to waylay the onset of age-related disorders. [Medical Hypotheses, Dec. 2006]

more [link to www.knowledgeofhealth.com]
Vit. C taking maniac
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12/31/2006 11:39 PM
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Re: Recent Discoveries Involving Vitamin C
Thanks dude.

I take 5,000 mg of Vit. C per day. I'm a 45-year-old woman and people who don't know me think I'm in my early thirties. They freak out when they find out I have a 25-year-old son.

Vit. C is most important.
Anonymous Coward
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12/31/2006 11:52 PM
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Re: Recent Discoveries Involving Vitamin C
I agree, vitamin C is awesome.

Here's my main sources:

Personal Radical Shield™ [link to www.life-enhancement.com]

Emergen-C [link to www.alacer.com]
Anonymous Coward
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12/31/2006 11:56 PM
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Re: Recent Discoveries Involving Vitamin C
1000mg a day, keeps doctor away and the lower man straight as an arrow
Anonymous Coward
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01/01/2007 12:04 AM
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Re: Recent Discoveries Involving Vitamin C
[link to www.paulingtherapy.com]

could save your life
Anonymous Coward
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01/01/2007 12:07 AM
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Re: Recent Discoveries Involving Vitamin C
The following story is true...

I was taking a late night train from NYC to the suburbs recently with my son. We went to the McDonald's in the station and had a meal when a marauder came in to force us to give him out food. Yes, I spent four years in the martial arts, but that was 30 years ago. I stood up to him and he ran out.

Then when we entered the train, a group of college kids followed us to where we were sitting. To get to the point, a few usual college things went on, and to quell a possible situation, I decided to take control by hitting a a 20 year old coed. We had a great time.

Towards the end of the ride, we talked about how old I was. When I said I was 58, everyone gasped. Most of the kids left the train to change for different destinations, but one young woman remianed with me.

When she got to her stop, she chose to go to the next car because the station was very dark and there were several people exiting in the next car. She couldn't get the door to the next car to open and summoned me. I used my martial arts training to open the door. She gasped in disbelief once again.

I take 8000 mg of vitamin daily and have done so for ten years.

End of story.

PS, the 20 year old girl who I hit on (as one of my usual comedy routines) fell for me. And I'm devastated to have to ensure that I don't contact her. (It just wouldn't be right.)
Anonymous Coward
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01/01/2007 12:30 AM
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Re: Recent Discoveries Involving Vitamin C
Thanks dude.

I take 5,000 mg of Vit. C per day. I'm a 45-year-old woman and people who don't know me think I'm in my early thirties. They freak out when they find out I have a 25-year-old son.

Vit. C is most important.
 Quoting: Vit. C taking maniac 175922


prove it...

worth a shot?
AC
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01/01/2007 12:46 AM
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Re: Recent Discoveries Involving Vitamin C
Are there any potential side effects from taking extra vitamin C?
Anonymous Coward
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01/01/2007 12:58 AM
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Re: Recent Discoveries Involving Vitamin C
side effects.....kidney stones........
wg
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01/01/2007 01:27 AM
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Re: Recent Discoveries Involving Vitamin C
[link to www.paulingtherapy.com]

could save your life
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 73162


Excellent link.
Redheaded Stepchild

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01/01/2007 01:36 AM
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Re: Recent Discoveries Involving Vitamin C
My mother had terminal cancer, and was given 6 months to live (if that long). She let us talk her into her first chemo session, and it nearly killed her...she ended up with diabetes, fluid on the heart, scarred internal organs, brittle bones...she was a royal mess and THEN lost all her hair. She was supposed to take 6 sessions, but she told us to EF OFF. She wasn't having any more of it.

She started corresponding with Linus Pauling. He convinced her to take massive doses of Vitamin C.

She lived for 16 years.

She would still be alive now if a nurse hadn't forgotten to check her morphine pain patch and put TWO of them on her (and at maximum dose instead of the prescribed minimum on the second patch). She'd fallen down and broken her hip (damned brittle bones). She was highly susceptible to morphine, and she went into a coma.

I'm a firm believer in the value of mega-doses of Vitamin C.
"Until you are willing to organize your friends and neighbors and literally shut down cities - drive at 5mph through the streets of major cities on the freeway and stop commerce, refuse to show up for work, refuse to borrow and spend more than you make, show up in Washington DC with a million of your neighbors and literally shut down The Capitol you WILL be bent over the table on a daily basis." Karl Denninger

Don't blame me; I voted for Ron Paul.


Silence is consent.
Anonymous Coward
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01/01/2007 01:40 AM
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Re: Recent Discoveries Involving Vitamin C
I heard years ago, if you are coming down with a bug, take 1 teaspoon Vit C powder (in water) every hour until you get diahrea. Count the number of spoonfuls you took. Go back in count to the one you took before you got the diahrea....that is as many as you need per day for your system. Excess Vit C goes straight through you so there's no sense taking it.
ie: If you took 5 teaspoons Vit C then after the 6th one you got diahrea, then you need 5 teaspoons per day spread out evenly.
Anonymous Coward
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01/01/2007 03:02 AM
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Re: Recent Discoveries Involving Vitamin C
ok, good.
I took 8, and after an episode stopped.

I guess i can go back if I'm careful ;)
Anonymous Coward
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01/01/2007 03:03 AM
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Re: Recent Discoveries Involving Vitamin C
it doesn't disolve in the water very well, you gotta drink it fast, it's so sour.
Anonymous Coward
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01/01/2007 09:39 AM
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Re: Recent Discoveries Involving Vitamin C
Thanks dude.

I take 5,000 mg of Vit. C per day. I'm a 45-year-old woman and people who don't know me think I'm in my early thirties. They freak out when they find out I have a 25-year-old son.

Vit. C is most important.
 Quoting: Vit. C taking maniac 175922


What form of Vit C do you take?
Anonymous Coward
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01/01/2007 09:59 AM
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Re: Recent Discoveries Involving Vitamin C
Although Vitamin C is very good for a host of things - beware of taking Megadoses, especially over an extended amount of time. I knew someone who was taking 18 Grams a day and then started having to be hospitalized receiving transfusions more and more frequently!! When I discovered the amount of Vitamin C that they were taking and had them stop - they no longer had the anemia!!


[link to www.mothernature.com]


excerpt:


"...The vitamin may also interfere with the absorption of tricyclic antidepressants, and it interferes with the results of certain diagnostic blood and urine tests, so you might want to mention your vitamin C intake to your doctor if you take these drugs or are going in for tests. People who have deficiencies in a red blood cell enzyme called glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase should not take large doses of vitamin C because it can damage their red blood cells and cause anemia. This deficiency is most common among people of African, Mediterranean or Asian descent. Some experts recommend limiting the use of chewable vitamin C tablets because they can cause enamel loss from the surface of the teeth and other dental problems."
Anonymous Coward
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01/01/2007 10:35 AM
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Re: Recent Discoveries Involving Vitamin C
When I was either 37 or 38 years old, I had a liver problem that was worsening by the day, according to the doctor who was treating me. He gave me 6 months to live. I began to take 10,000mg of Vitamin C FIVE TIMES A DAY! That's 50,000mg/day, consumed over several months. I suffered no ill affects from that mega dosage. Not even diarrhea. Thirty-three years down the line, I'm still here, alive and well on planet Earth. Kidneys are fine.
Anonymous Coward
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01/01/2007 10:48 AM
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Re: Recent Discoveries Involving Vitamin C
Here's some exciting information about the results of taking mega doses of Vitamin C:

There is a sensible high-vitamin-C protocol that has been found to arrest cancer growths.

There are sound theoretical reasons to add 400 mg of highly absorbable Coenzyme 10 (CoQ10) to any anti-cancer protocol. This dosage has initiated complete tumor regression in breast cancer patients - during clinical studies!

"Amazingly, vitamin C has actually already been documented in the medical literature to have readily and consistently cured both acute polio and acute hepatitis, two viral diseases still considered by modern medicine to be incurable." - Thomas E. Levy, MD, JD

Ames: High Dose Vitamins can Treat more then 50 Genetic Disorders

Vitamin C Does Not Cause Kidney Stones!!!

Why the Vitamin C Foundation Does Not Recommend Ester-C®
(Neither does Hulda Clark)

Sloan-Kettering Admits Vitamin C PROTECTS Against DNA Damage

New research on vitamin C and tooth decay supports decades old reports that 6 gm vitamin C provides 100% protection against tooth cavities.

[link to www.vitamincfoundation.org]

[link to www.thecureforheartdisease.com]

Other good websites:

[link to curezone.com]

------------------------------------------------------------

....thinking about how ascorbate could selectively kill cancer and not normal cells. Normal cells have catalase and cancer cells do not.

Must read website

[link to www.orthomed.com]

The above site states that all manner of disease can be cured with either massive amounts of intervenous or oral Vit. C. Polio is just one of them. Anthrax is another.
Anka

User ID: 66283
United States
01/01/2007 11:05 AM

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Re: Recent Discoveries Involving Vitamin C
Are there any potential side effects from taking extra vitamin C?
 Quoting: AC 160123


Kidney stones if you don't drink enough water.
Which leads to another subject:
[link to www.watercure.com]
"We shall no longer hang on to the tails of public opinion, or to a non-existent authority, on matters utterly unknown and strange. We shall gradually become experts ourselves in the mastery of the knowledge of the future." ~ Wilhelm Reich
Anonymous Coward
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01/01/2007 11:31 AM
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Re: Recent Discoveries Involving Vitamin C
People need to pay attention to the form of vitamin C they are taking. Cheap vitamin C pills sold in supermarket supplement sections are nothing but ascorbic acid. This is not the full vitamin C complex. This is like eating the peel of an orange, and thinking you've consumed the entire orange. NOT GOOD! In order to attain the full complex, one must take a natural form of vitamin C, such as pure rose hips or acerola powder, or from food.

Taking ascorbic acid may be beneficial, but just realize that it is not real vitamin C.
Anonymous Coward
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01/01/2007 12:04 PM
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Re: Recent Discoveries Involving Vitamin C
[link to www.sciencedirect.com]

Medical Hypotheses

doi:10.1016/j.mehy.2006.10.035

Copyright c 2006 Elsevier Ltd All rights reserved.

Can ageing-related degenerative diseases be ameliorated through
administration of vitamin C at pharmacological levels?

Yi Lia and Herb E. Schellhorn, a,

aLife Sciences Building, Department of Biology, McMaster
University, Room 218, 1280 Main Street West, Hamilton, Ont.,
Canada L8S 4K1

Received 28 September 2006; accepted 1 October 2006. Available
online 1 December 2006.

SUMMARY

Man, with other primates, lost the ability to synthesize vitamin C
through an inactivating mutation of the gene encoding
gulonolactone oxidase (GULO) millions of years ago. Though the
consequences of this prehistoric loss must have been favorable
(and thus selected for) at the population level, the inability to
produce vitamin C may have serious health implications for modern
humans, especially for those conditions in which antioxidants
(like vitamin C) have been implicated as potential therapeutic
agents. Two general types of recent findings regarding vitamin C
have made re-evaluation of this important nutrient imperative.
First, vitamin C is now known to be involved in several novel
physiological phenomena including stem cell differentiation and
respiratory development, which likely require pharmacological
levels of vitamin C. Secondly, the growing recognition that many
ageing-related diseases, including heart disease, neural
degeneration and cancer, may have a contributing oxidative damage
factor that might be reduced by dietary antioxidants such as
vitamin C. In this paper, we hypothesize that high serum-level
vitamin C provides important, broad-ranging therapeutic benefits
in treating ageing-related degenerative diseases. This hypothesis
can be readily tested using traditional and newly-developed
genetically-engineered animal models.

HYPOTHESIS FORMULATION

The loss of endogenous vitamin C synthesis has been suggested as
an adaptive trait in human evolution, and selected for at the
population level [1]. Many theories have since been formulated on
exactly what evolutionary advantages this loss had conferred [1],
[2] and [3]. One notable hypothesis explains that the inability to
produce vitamin C may have presented a selective mechanism against
ageing populations, allowing the re-distribution of foods towards
the young and fertile, hence enhancing the fitness of the species
[1]. However, this mode of selection is probably not relevant in
modern day human societies. The amount of vitamin C required for
optimal human health has long been debated but new information
indicates that high levels may be beneficial, particularly in
special cases. A recent review further emphasizes the importance
of adequate vitamin C intake, especially among ageing populations
[2]. It suggests that with a major change in the cause of
mortality and the consequent increase in the human lifespan, the
lack of endogenous vitamin C, combined with the drastic decrease
in dietary vitamin C intake (comparing to human ancestors), result
in accumulation of harmful reactive oxygen species (ROS) [2],
which is considered the leading cause of many degenerative
diseases. As damage caused by unquenched oxidants accumulates with
age, the impact of low-level serum vitamin C is likely more
profound on ageing populations, which may contribute to the high
incidence of degenerative diseases among the elderly. This notion
is consistent with the well established view that oxidative stress
is an important contributing factor to cellular senescence and
ageing-related pathologies. Therefore, it is likely that this
adaptive loss, though once favored in an evolutionary sense, may
be now deleterious to the health of individuals. This possibility,
in combination with new research findings, leads us to propose
that an elevation of serum vitamin C by clinical means may help
achieve the optimal oxidant/antioxidant balance, hence
ameliorating degenerative diseases caused by accumulation of
reactive oxygen species, especially those that are ageing-related.

This reconsideration of the therapeutic functions of vitamin C is
also supported by empirical evidence drawn from recent studies, in
which numerous novel physiological phenomena of ascorbic acid have
been identified. As a co-factor for collagen synthesis, ascorbic
acid, at high concentrations (100-200 æM), facilitates the
differentiation of embryonic stem cells to cardiomyocytes [4],
suggesting a potential role in the developmental processes of
mammals. The potential therapeutic properties of vitamin C against
various ROS-related diseases have been shown in several recent in
vitro studies. For example, vitamin C, at high doses, is able to
selectively target and kill cancer cells by producing toxic
hydrogen peroxide [5]. The beneficial effects of vitamin C on
cardiovascular health are also well known; and a growing body of
evidence now points to an underlying mechanism in which vitamin C
scavenges ROS [6], and in effect, reducing oxidative damages to
the vascular system [7] and [8]. Transfection of human endothelial
cells with vector expressing recombinant gulonolactone oxidase
results in ascorbic acid synthesis and stimulated production of
nitric oxide [9], a key regulator of vascular function often
reduced under oxidative stress. These results are consistent with
previous observations that ascorbic acid improves vasodilation in
diabetes patient by rescuing nitric oxide (NO)-dependent
endothelial dysfunction [10], and that ageing-related
flow-dependent, endothelium-mediated dilation (FDD) dysfunction
caused by vascular oxidative stress can be relieved by
supplementation with antioxidant vitamin C [11]. In addition, high
doses of vitamin C can effectively reduce cholesterol-induced
atherosclerosis in rabbits. However, this effect is not observed
when low doses of vitamin C are administered [12]. Similar to
cancer and cardiovascular disease, ageing-related neural
degenerative diseases, such as Parkinson's disease (PD) and
Alzheimer's disease (AD), also have a strong oxidative damage
component, and may be attenuated by supplementation with vitamin C
[13]. As an antioxidant, ascorbic acid protects neural cells from
hydroxyl peroxide-induced damage in a dose-dependent manner [14].
Apart from its antioxidant functions, vitamin C, at high
concentrations (200 æM) in vitro, alters gene expression profiles
of mesencephalic precursors, resulting in their differentiation
into dopaminergic neurons [15], hence further supporting the use
of vitamin C in the treatment of neural degeneration.

Therefore, based on the presented empirical evidence, we propose
that high doses of vitamin C can ameliorate ageing-related
degenerative diseases, and improve the health status of ageing
populations. The primary prediction derived from this hypothesis
is that elderly individuals subjected to high dose vitamin C
therapy should exhibit better health, reflected by the lower
incidence of degenerative diseases, including cancer,
cardiovascular and neural degenerative diseases, than individuals
consuming regular amounts of vitamin C. The validity of this
prediction can be tested with long-term nutritional and clinical
studies. The availability of new transgenic animal models makes it
possible to examine this hypothesis directly in well-controlled in
vivo experiments. For example, the recent generation of Gulo
knockout mice [16] permits a closer study of the therapeutic
effects of vitamin C in vivo using a well-established rodent
model. The effects of vitamin C on ageing-related DNA damage can
be examined by monitoring the levels of intracellular mutagenesis
biomarkers such as 8-oxo deoxyguanosine in Gulo knockout mice
treated with various amounts of vitamin C. The validity of the
previous prediction can thus be verified with this in vivo assay.

CONCLUSION

In summary, vitamin C is a potent antioxidant produced by most
mammals. The loss of endogenous vitamin C and reduced dietary
intake resulted in decreased vitamin C levels in the blood, which,
in turn, leads to elevation of free radicals in the cell, and
ultimately, the onset of degenerative diseases. As unquenched free
radicals accumulate with age, we propose the deleterious effects
of oxidative stress are most profound in ageing populations.
Drawing evidence from numerous studies, we extrapolate that
vitamin C, at high serum concentrations, is effective in treating
and preventing degenerative diseases, particularly those that are
ageing-related. We hope that this hypothesis will yield new
insights into the therapeutic values of vitamin C, and stimulate
additional research into the therapeutic potential of this
important nutrient.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

We thank C.R. Joyce for reviewing the manuscript and members of
the HES lab, past and present, who have made contributions to this
project. We acknowledge the funding agencies of the HES lab,
including the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of
Canada (NSERC) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research
(CIHR), for financial support.

REFERENCES

[1] J. Millar, Vitamin C - the primate fertility factor?, Med
Hypotheses 38 (1992), pp. 292-295. SummaryPlus | Full Text + Links
| PDF (414 K) | Abstract + References in Scopus | Cited By in
Scopus

[2] I.F. Benzie, Evolution of dietary antioxidants, Comp Biochem
Phys A 136 (2003), pp. 113-126. SummaryPlus | Full Text + Links |
PDF (666 K) | Abstract + References in Scopus | Cited By in Scopus

[3] J.J. Challem, Did the loss of endogenous ascorbate propel the
evolution of Anthropoidea and Homo sapiens?, Med Hypotheses 48
(1997), pp. 387-392. SummaryPlus | Full Text + Links | PDF (577 K)
| Abstract + References in Scopus | Cited By in Scopus

[4] D.M. Shin, J.I. Ahn, K.H. Lee, Y.S. Lee and Y.S. Lee, Ascorbic
acid responsive genes during neuronal differentiation of embryonic
stem cells, Neuroreport 15 (2004), pp. 1959-1963. Abstract-MEDLINE
| Abstract-EMBASE | Abstract-Elsevier BIOBASE | Full Text via
CrossRef | Abstract + References in Scopus | Cited By in Scopus

[5] Q. Chen, M.G. Espey and M.C. Krishna et al., Pharmacologic
ascorbic acid concentrations selectively kill cancer cells: action
as a pro-drug to deliver hydrogen peroxide to tissues, Proc Natl
Acad Sci USA 102 (2005), pp. 13604-13609. Abstract-Elsevier
BIOBASE | Abstract-MEDLINE | Full Text via CrossRef | Abstract +
References in Scopus | Cited By in Scopus

[6] B. Hornig, N. Arakawa, C. Kohler and H. Drexler, Vitamin C
improves endothelial function of conduit arteries in patients with
chronic heart failure, Circulation 97 (1998), pp. 363-368.
Abstract-MEDLINE | Abstract-EMBASE | Abstract + References in
Scopus | Cited By in Scopus

[7] G.M. Chisolm and D. Steinberg, The oxidative modification
hypothesis of atherogenesis: an overview, Free Radic Biol Med 28
(2000), pp. 1815-1826. SummaryPlus | Full Text + Links | PDF (95
K) | Abstract + References in Scopus | Cited By in Scopus

[8] J.L. Witztum and D. Steinberg, Role of oxidized low density
lipoprotein in atherogenesis, J Clin Invest 88 (1991), pp.
1785-1792. Abstract-MEDLINE | Abstract-EMBASE | Abstract +
References in Scopus | Cited By in Scopus

[9] H.J. Kim, S.I. Lee and D.H. Lee et al., Ascorbic acid
synthesis due to L-gulono-1,4-lactone oxidase expression enhances
NO production in endothelial cells, Biochem Biophys Res Commun 345
(2006), pp. 1657-1662. SummaryPlus | Full Text + Links | PDF (257
K)

[10] H.H. Ting, F.K. Timimi, K.S. Boles, S.J. Creager, P. Ganz and
M.A. Creager, Vitamin C improves endothelium-dependent
vasodilation in patients with non-insulin-dependent diabetes
mellitus, J Clin Invest 97 (1996), pp. 22-28. Abstract-MEDLINE |
Abstract-EMBASE | Abstract + References in Scopus | Cited By in
Scopus

[11] I. Eskurza, K.D. Monahan, J.A. Robinson and D.R. Seals,
Effect of acute and chronic ascorbic acid on flow-mediated
dilatation with sedentary and physically active human ageing, J
Physiol-London 556 (2004), pp. 315-324. Abstract-Elsevier BIOBASE
| Abstract-EMBASE | Abstract-MEDLINE | Abstract + References in
Scopus | Cited By in Scopus

[12] S. Das, R. Ray, Snehlata, N. Das and L.M. Srivastava, Effect
of ascorbic acid on prevention of hypercholesterolemia induced
atherosclerosis, Mol Cell Biochem 285 (2006), pp. 143-147.
Abstract-MEDLINE | Abstract-EMBASE | Abstract-Elsevier BIOBASE |
Full Text via CrossRef

[13] K.H. Masaki, K.G. Losonczy and G. Izmirlian et al.,
Association of vitamin E and C supplement use with cognitive
function and dementia in elderly men, Neurology 54 (2000), pp.
1265-1272. Abstract-MEDLINE | Abstract-Elsevier BIOBASE |
Abstract-EMBASE | Abstract + References in Scopus | Cited By in
Scopus

[14] H.J. Heo and C.Y. Lee, Protective effects of quercetin and
vitamin C against oxidative stress-induced neurodegeneration, J
Agric Food Chem 52 (2004), pp. 7514-7517. Abstract-MEDLINE |
Full Text via CrossRef

[15] D.H. Yu, K.H. Lee and J.Y. Lee et al., Changes of gene
expression profiles during neuronal differentiation of central
nervous system precursors treated with ascorbic acid, J Neurosci
Res 78 (2004), pp. 29-37. Abstract-Elsevier BIOBASE |
Abstract-MEDLINE | Abstract-EMBASE | Full Text via CrossRef |
Abstract + References in Scopus | Cited By in Scopus

[16] N. Maeda, H. Hagihara, Y. Nakata, S. Hiller, J. Wilder and R.
Reddick, Aortic wall damage in mice unable to synthesize ascorbic
acid, Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 97 (2000), pp. 841-846.
Abstract-MEDLINE | Abstract-Elsevier BIOBASE | Abstract-EMBASE |
Abstract-EMBASE | Full Text via CrossRef | Abstract + References
in Scopus | Cited By in Scopus

Corresponding author. Tel.: +1 905 525 9140x27316; fax: +1 905 522
6066.
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 36052
United States
01/01/2007 12:18 PM
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Re: Recent Discoveries Involving Vitamin C
SNIPPETS:

"I suggest that vitamin C acts as a population control mechanism,
a `fertility factor' in primate societies, which regulates the
size of the population to match the available food supply. In
times of food shortages this mechanism works to ensure the
selective survival of the younger and more fertile members of the
species, thus ensuring rapid repopulation when food resources
recover."

"The sales of preparations containing vitamin C suggests that a
large proportion of the population does indeed take a daily
supplement of this vitamin. If the present model is correct, this
will mean that more people will survive into old age than ever
before. Moreover, we can expect many of these individuals to be
able to take an active part in society for longer than was
previously possible. Thus we can expect a shift upwards in the
median age of the working population and an increase in the
proportion of elderly patients. Whether this is in the best
long-term interests of the species is not clear."

----------------------

FULL TEXT:

[link to www.sciencedirect.com]

Medical Hypotheses (1992) 38: 292-295

Vitamin C: The Primate Fertility Factor?

J. MILLAR

Date received 18 November 1991

Department of Physiology, Basic Medical Sciences, Queen Mary &
Westfield College, Mile End Road, London El 4NS

ABSTRACT

The loss of the ability of primates and man to synthesise ascorbic
acid (vitamin C) is usually seen as an evolutionary accident, with
no benefit to the species. This paper argues that the loss of this
biosynthetic ability has allowed vitamin C to act as a `fertility
factor' in primate societies. It is argued that the requirement
for vitamin C increases with age, and so in times of foot
shortages the older members of society suffer higher mortality
than the younger. This reduces the median age of the population
towards the younger and most fertile members, and so enables the
population to regrow rapidly when food resources are restored.

Introduction

Scurvy is a particularly horrible disease; the description of it
given in the classic treatise by James Lind in 1767 (1, 2) shows
that without vitamin C the human body falls apart. The teeth fall
out, the bones crumble; blood leaks from capillaries throughout
the body: the muscles and skin waste away. Unlike most infectious
diseases, no single organ or body structure is targeted for
attack: rather, the whole organism gradually disintegrates.
Fortunately scurvy in its fully developed form is rare nowadays in
the Western world. But it is easy to see from Lind's book why the
disease was feared throughout Europe until the end of the 18th
century. Seamen were particularly vulnerable, and there are
reports of whole ships being struck down by this dreaded scourge.
And yet vitamin C, which we now know is necessary and sufficient
to prevent the disease, is a simple molecule close in structure to
a sugar; more to the point, almost all other creatures who need
ascorbic acid (vitamin C) in their metabolism can synthesise it
themselves from commonly available precursors (3). So the great
unanswered question is `Why can't man?' For some reason we are
without the ability to synthesise this vital ingredient for our
well-being. Insects, invertebrates and fishes, usually considered
lower on the evolutionary ladder, have not developed the
biosynthetic machinery, but primates, along with the guinea-pig
and fruit bats, have lost it (4). It seems an evolutionary blunder
of the first magnitude.

Irwin Stone in 1966 put forward the idea that we are victims of an
`inborn error of metabolism' (5). The suggestion was that this
loss is some evolutionary accident which has no survival value.
Yet it is difficult to feel easy with this answer. Surely the loss
of a biosynthetic ability that could cause such a severe
deficiency disease would work against the survival of the affected
group. The belief that the loss by primates of the ability to
synthesise vitamin C, even if caused by a random mutation, did in
fact confer an evolutionary advantage on those groups affected is
the basis of this article.

I suggest that vitamin C acts as a population control mechanism, a
`fertility factor' in primate societies, which regulates the size
of the population to match the available food supply. In times of
food shortages this mechanism works to ensure the selective
survival of the younger and more fertile members of the species,
thus ensuring rapid repopulation when food resources recover.

Why should there be a need for a population control factor in
primates?

We start with the argument that a special population control
mechanism is needed in primates because of their unusual
reproductive behaviour. The reproductive behaviour of some mammals
(for example many ungulates) is seasonal and is primarily
controlled by the hours of daylight. In others (for example
rabbits) it is controlled by the availability of food, but for
primates reproductive behaviour is not under any obvious
environmental constraints. In most other animals copulation only
occurs at times of female fertility or, for reflex ovulators, when
the female has the ability to release an ovum. In other words, sex
normally generates offspring. However in man and other primates
sexual activity is known to be common during periods of
non-fertility, for example in the weeks after the birth of
offspring, when high circulating prolactin levels in the mother
prevent conception. Sex in primates must be considered a form of
communication and pair-bonding as well as a reproductive act.
Primate offspring need a prolonged period of post-natal care, and
during this childhood stage the caring parent is going to be at a
disadvantage when it comes to food gathering or hunting. Survival
of the offspring is therefore optimised if the parent as well as
the child is supported by one or other members of the tribe, and
sex seems to be an effective way of maintaining pairbonding and
support from members of the tribe who are not primarily involved
in child rearing. However, one of the consequences of primates
using sex as a pair bonding mechanism is that populations can grow
at alarmingly fast rates if infant mortality is low. The size of
primate colonies increases very rapidly when food is plentiful and
predators are scarce. However, if food is in short supply, the
adults, being generally larger and stronger than the children,
will get most of it. This may cause a problem for the survival of
the species as a whole, because adult primates (including of
course man) can live for long periods after their fertility has
declined. We can thus envisage a situation where in periods of
food shortage the adults survive and me offspring starve, but then
when food resources return the remaining adults are too old to
reproduce successfully and the species declines.

One might argue that a way around this problem would be for the
fertility of the species to decline during food shortages, so that
the population down-regulates to a level sustainable at the lower
level of food supply. This is indeed how many species adjust to
food shortages, but this mechanism, while helpful, is not
sufficient in a species like me primates where the adults may
survive into a post-fertile old age. If these older adults are
competing with the children and the young fertile adults for the
available food this reduces the chances of survival for the
latter. What is needed in these cases is for the children and
young adults to have a built-in ability to survive shortages or
injury better than older adults. On the other hand, particularly
in the more advanced primate societies, there is an evolutionary
advantage to be gained if, when food is plentiful, adult members
of the society do survive into old age. The old adults can pass on
their accumulated wisdom and experience to the youngsters, and can
help with child-rearing, thus enabling the young parents to join
in hunting or other food-gathering activities.

Is there an age-related increase in human ascorbate requirement?

The need for ascorbic acid in the primate diet is demonstrated by
the disappearance of ascorbic acid from the body on a diet
containing no ascorbic acid, and the appearance of the symptoms of
scurvy if this diet is prolonged (6,7). The deficit is believed to
be in the conversion of D-glucuronolactone to L-gulonolactone or
L-gulonolactone to ascorbate (8,9). However, at least one study
(lo), indicates that some human subjects have a residual capacity
to synthesise the vitamin. It is also noteworthy that studies
attempting to estimate the minimum requirements for the vitamin
have often found very large individual differences between
subjects. This appears to be true both in animal (11) and human
studies (6,7 op. tit). Again this could be explained by some
residual biosynthetic ability in certain individuals. If there is
a residual biosynthetic ability in some individuals it would
appear to decline with age. Fetal tissue has higher ascorbate
levels than in the adult (12), and there is a significant level of
the ascorbate-synthesising enzyme L-gulonolactone oxidase in
embryo guinea-pigs which is absent from adult animals (13).
Children of course do suffer from scurvy; indeed, many instances
of infantile scurvy occurred in the US in the early part of this
century as a result of milk sterilisation procedures (reviewed in
(2)). Nevertheless, other things being equal, it appears that
children and young adults are more resistant to the effects of a
scorbutic diet than older adults (14). Low levels of dietary
ascorbate intake may be sufficient to prevent the explicit signs
of scurvy, but may be insufficient to protect the older individual
from certain degenerative diseases. For example, Parkinson's
Disease, which normally occurs only in adult primates, may be
correlated with low levels of ascorbic acid in the brain (15). It
has been suggested that the microangiopathy associated with
diabetes may be due to ascorbate deficiency in diabetes (16). and
low levels of plasma ascorbate may be associated with increased
risk of atheroma and heart disease (17).

Let us suppose that the requirement for ascorbate, not just to
prevent scurvy, but to protect against various diseases of ageing,
does increase with age. In times of hardship and food shortages
the ascorbate intake will go down for all age groups in the
population. This low ascorbate intake will selectively increase
morbidity and mortality in the older members of the population.
This will conserve the food resources for the younger adults and
children, and thus enable the population to rebuild itself rapidly
when food is again plentiful.

A corollary of this argument is that, if ascorbate is indeed a
population control factor, one might expect it to have a
`permissive' effect on fertility. Specifically, one would expect
that with low levels of dietary ascorbate, fertility would be
reduced overall in the population, and restricted to the younger
adults. When ascorbate is plentiful in the diet, fertility should
be greater overall, and in particular it should increase the
fertility of the older males and females in the population.
Ascorbate is found at a high level in the testes of man and guinea
pigs (12, op cit), and in scorbutic guinea pigs inhibition or
blockage of spermiogenesis occurs (Kocen et al, cited in (12)).
High doses of vitamin C have been shown to restore fertility in
infertile men, while moderate (400 mg daily) doses have been
reported to induce ovulation in anovulatory women (Harris et al,
and Igarashi, both cited in (18)).

Why is vitamin C the primate fertility factor?

To be an effective way of linking population size to food supply,
the hypothetical fertility factor should have certain predictable
characteristics. We can argue that it ought to be present in a
variety of the normal foodstuffs, so that a shortage in any one
food did not unduly affect the population size. One would expect
the factor to appear often in the most palatable foods of the
normal diet, so that when food was plentiful individuals would not
neglect to eat those foods that contained the factor. When food
shortages do occur the factor should not cause `all-or-nothing'
fatalaties in the affected group; rather, it should have a
progressive influence on morbidity and mortality, preferably by
increasing the vulnerability of the older members of the affected
group to a wide range of threats or diseases. It should also
affect fertility, but again in a selective way, reducing mainly
the fertility of the older members of the society. Finally, if the
food supply is suddenly restored after a shortage, the individuals
affected by the absence of the factor should be able to make a
full and rapid recovery when its supply is restored. Vitamin C
appears to fultil most of these criteria. It is found in a wide
range of fruit and vegetables, and to a lesser extent in fresh
meat. It occurs in high levels in what are generally regarded as
the most palatable foodstuffs, such as fresh fruit. The subtlety
of its effect are such that it is still a matter of argument as to
what should be the recommended daily intake. Moderate dietary
deficiencies of tbe vitamin does not lead to any one deficiency
disease but appears to increase the susceptibility of the
individual to a wide range of other illnesses. Ascorbate appears
to increase fertility in man and guinea pigs.

Conclusions

If it is true that vitamin C acts as a control factor in primate
populations by selectively maintaining health and fertility in
older adults, we can make certain predictions about population
growth and diet in our present society. Unlike in any previous
generation, adults in Western society can now take as much vitamin
C as a dietary supplement as they wish or can afford. Lucid
arguments have appeared before (19, 20) on why we should
supplement our diet in this way, but I do not think the selective
need for supplements in the elderly has previously been
emphasised. The sales of preparations containing vitamin C
suggests that a large proportion of the population does indeed
take a daily supplement of this vitamin. If the present model is
correct, this will mean that more people will survive into old age
than ever before. Moreover, we can expect many of these
individuals to be able to take an active part in society for
longer than was previously possible. Thus we can expect a shift
upwards in the median age of the working population and an
increase in the proportion of elderly patients. Whether this is in
the best long-term interests of the species is not clear. But at
least we can now suggest a reason as to why our species has lost
the ability to synthesise such a simple molecule, when its absence
from our diet has such devastating effects.

References

1. Lind J. A Treatise of the Scurvy. Millar, Edinburgh, 1753.

2. Carpenter K I. The history of Scurvy and Vitamin C. Cambridge
University Press, Cambridge, 1988.

3. Bums J J. Ascorbic acid. Chapter 7 in Metabolic Pathways Vol 1
3rd Edn. (D H Greenberg, ed) Academic Press, New York, 1967.

4. Chatterjee I B, Majumder A K. Nandi B K, Subramainian N.
Synthesis and some major functions of vitamin C in animals. Ann N
Y Acad Sci 258: 24-46, 1975.

5. Stone I. Hypoascorbemia: the genetic disease causing the human
requirement for exogenous ascorbic acid. Perspect Biol Med 10:
133-134, 1966.

6. Battley W, Krebs H A, O'Brien J R P Vitamin C Requirement of
Human Adults. Medical Research Council Special Report Series no
280. London, H.M.S.O. 1953.

7. Hodges R E, Baker E M, Hood J, Sauberlich H E, March S E.
Experimental Scurvy in Man. Am J Clin Nutr 22: 535-548.

8. Bums J J. Peyser P, Moltz A. Missing step in guinea pigs
required for the biosynthesis of L-ascorbic acid. Science 124:
11411149, 1956.

9. Chatterjee I B. Kar N C, Ghosh N C, Guha B C. Biosynthesis of
L-ascorbic acid: missing steps in animals incapable of
synthesising the vitamin. Nature 192: 163-164.

10. Baker E M. Sauberlich H E, Wolfskill S J. Wallace W T, Dean E
E. Tracer studies of vitamin C utilisation in man: Metabolism of
D-glucuronolactone-6-04, D-glucuronicd- Cl4 acid and L-ascorbic
acid-l-Cl4 acid. Proc Sot Exp Biol Med 109: 737-741, 1962.

11. Yew M-L S. Biological variation in ascorbic acid needs. Ann N
Y Acad Sci 258: 451-457.

12. Homig D. Distribution of ascorbic acid, metabolites and
analogues in man and animals. Ann N Y Acad Sci 258: 103-l 18,
1975.

13. De Fabro S P. Activitie de la gulone-lactone-oxydasechez
l'embryon de Cobaye. C R Sot Biol 162: 284-285, 1968.

14. McMiUan R B. Inglis J C. Scurvy: a survey of fifty-three
cases. Br Med J ii: 233-236, 1944.

15. Fomstedt B, Carlsson A. Vitamin C deficiency facilitates S-S
Cysteinyldopamine formation in guinea pig striatum. J Neurochem
56: 407-414, 1991.

16. Mann Cl V, Newton P The membrane transport of ascorbic acid.
Ann N Y Acad Sci 258: 243-252, 1975.

17. Ginter E. Bobek P. The influence of vitamin C on lipid
metabolism. ~299 in: Vitamin C (J N Counsell. D H Homig. eds)
Academic Science Publishers, London and New Jersey, 1981.

18. Homig D H. Moser U. The safety of high vitamin C intakes
in man. ~225 in: Vitamin C (J N Counsell, D H Homig, eds)
Academic Science Publishers, London and New Jersey, 1981.

19. Lewin S. Vitamin C: Its molecular biology and Medical
Potential. Academic Press, New York, 1976.

20. Pauling L. Evolution and the need for ascorbic acid. Proc Natl
Acad Sci USA 67: 1643-1648 (1970).
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 102875
Sweden
01/01/2007 12:50 PM
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Re: Recent Discoveries Involving Vitamin C
My kidney took hard beating from increased C vit intakes 1000 Mgr so I stopped that stuff; I only consume raw lemon juice (in other fruit juices); I believe the kidney problem is real when you use artificial C vit!
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 176017
United States
01/01/2007 01:08 PM
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Re: Recent Discoveries Involving Vitamin C
My kidney took hard beating from increased C vit intakes 1000 Mgr so I stopped that stuff; I only consume raw lemon juice (in other fruit juices); I believe the kidney problem is real when you use artificial C vit!
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 102875


That brought back a memory! I thought, while taking lots of Vit. C, that I had a kidney infection because of very uncomfortable pain over the kidney area, so I went to the doctor, who took a specimen. There was NO BACTERIA in the kidney. He told me that massive amounts of Vit. C, such as I was taking, would kill off all bacteria.

What was needed in this instance was a chiropractor, not a prescription for antibiotic!
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 176123
United States
01/01/2007 03:28 PM
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Re: Recent Discoveries Involving Vitamin C
People need to pay attention to the form of vitamin C they are taking. Cheap vitamin C pills sold in supermarket supplement sections are nothing but ascorbic acid. This is not the full vitamin C complex. This is like eating the peel of an orange, and thinking you've consumed the entire orange. NOT GOOD! In order to attain the full complex, one must take a natural form of vitamin C, such as pure rose hips or acerola powder, or from food.

Taking ascorbic acid may be beneficial, but just realize that it is not real vitamin C.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 76420


Not true. L-ascorbic acid *IS* Vitamin C.
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 81359
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01/01/2007 03:32 PM
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Re: Recent Discoveries Involving Vitamin C
youre full of sh*t you lyingturd!




The following story is true...

I was taking a late night train from NYC to the suburbs recently with my son. We went to the McDonald's in the station and had a meal when a marauder came in to force us to give him out food. Yes, I spent four years in the martial arts, but that was 30 years ago. I stood up to him and he ran out.

Then when we entered the train, a group of college kids followed us to where we were sitting. To get to the point, a few usual college things went on, and to quell a possible situation, I decided to take control by hitting a a 20 year old coed. We had a great time.

Towards the end of the ride, we talked about how old I was. When I said I was 58, everyone gasped. Most of the kids left the train to change for different destinations, but one young woman remianed with me.

When she got to her stop, she chose to go to the next car because the station was very dark and there were several people exiting in the next car. She couldn't get the door to the next car to open and summoned me. I used my martial arts training to open the door. She gasped in disbelief once again.

I take 8000 mg of vitamin daily and have done so for ten years.

End of story.

PS, the 20 year old girl who I hit on (as one of my usual comedy routines) fell for me. And I'm devastated to have to ensure that I don't contact her. (It just wouldn't be right.)
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 159950
Anonymous Coward
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01/01/2007 04:00 PM
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Re: Recent Discoveries Involving Vitamin C
When I was very sick with a sinus ear infection last year, the only thing that worked was a tablespoon of vit c powder in water that I drank all day.
Anonymous Coward
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Israel
01/01/2007 04:06 PM
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Re: Recent Discoveries Involving Vitamin C
Each im drinking juices with vitamin C(about 2liters).
I'm sure like twice over the norm C comsumption.
feeling quite energetic.
Anonymous Coward
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01/01/2007 04:11 PM
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Re: Recent Discoveries Involving Vitamin C
I've been taking 1000-1500mg of ester-C for the last 20 yrs. Everyone I know tells me I don't look 52.
Anonymous Coward
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01/01/2007 06:12 PM
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Re: Recent Discoveries Involving Vitamin C
Hey 176030

What form of Vit C do you take?



I take plain old ascorbic acid, 1,000 mg tablets. I take them with meals throughout the day to avoid any stomach upset.

Off topic, but if you're a woman you might be interested in how I take care of my face (doing this since my early 20s); to further address the anti-aging issue.

1) Never wash my face with soap of any kind.

2) Remove make-up at night with cold cream and a damp washcloth - never Kleenex (has wood fibers)

3) Moisturize with Cetaphil cream (comes in a big vat). I take out half the cream and mix with Rosemary and Lavendar essential oils in a different container. This part is used at night because the ils make it a little greasy. The original Cetaphil is used in the morning under make-up.

4) And probably most inportant, I limit my time in the sun. I NEVER get a tan. I'm fine with being a white person.





Thanks dude.

I take 5,000 mg of Vit. C per day. I'm a 45-year-old woman and people who don't know me think I'm in my early thirties. They freak out when they find out I have a 25-year-old son.

Vit. C is most important.


What form of Vit C do you take?
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 176030