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Zorba writes a medical column in my state newspaper. In this Sunday's paper, his column was headlined "Vitamin C gets an F", and he went on to condemn the use of vitamin C supplements, based on a JAMA report that people taking more than 1000 mg of vitamin C daily have an increased risk of kidney stones. I sent him this response:

Dear Dr. Paster, My wife states that you will be interested in my response, so rather than a letter to the editor, I hope this email finds its way to you.  I am a biochemistry professor at Beloit College, who has spent the past 30 years studying vitamin C, stemming from the antioxidant theory of human aging, which led me to explore the optimum dosage of vitamin C.  Linus Pauling advocated megadoses, and himself took 16g daily.  But I was fortunate to discover the most useful megadose, 500 mg twice a day, which provides the highest level of vitamin C in the plasma.  My discovery was the banner headline of USA Today back in 1994 .  Since then, I have done lots more research on the likely benefits of vitamin C.  Rather than the blanket statement, Vitamin C earns an F, I wish you would restrict the headline, as your article does, to Vitamin C above 1000 mg daily earns an F.  I have also attached a recent poster I presented at the Linus Pauling meetings, held biannually in the summer in Portland OR .  The Linus Pauling Institute in Corvallis, OR is an NIH-designated Center of Excellence for Research on Complementary and Alternative Medicine because of its distinguished research in nutrition.  Maret Traber, a friend of mine, chaired the group that established the daily values for antioxidants in 2000.  She set the UL at 2,000 mg daily, because in fact it has been shown in a megastudy by H. Hemila that vitamin C, 1000 mg twice a day along with zinc at the first symptoms of a cold, actually does reduce the occurence and duration of colds.  

Posters I have presented at research conferences for the American Aging Association and the Linus Pauling Institute meetings are at  where you will find published peer-reviewed research studies to document all of the following benefits that correlate with those who take vitamin C supplements:
1. People who have the highest level of vitamin C have the lowest damage from strokes.  OHSU Hospital administers vitamin C to incoming stroke victims.
2. Multiple studies have shown that people who take vitamin C have a lower occurrence of kidney stones than others.  Note the JAMA study you referred to was people taking over 1,000 mg daily.  The kidneys are not taxed at 500mg once in the morning and once at 12 hours later.
3. AA reduces cognitive decline (Araujo et al 2005)
4. AA reduces reperfusion injury (Rozell 1998)
5. AA reverses endothelial dysfunction (Levine GN et al 1996).
6. AA (500 mg) reduced frequency of colds by 66% (Saszuki et al 2006)
7. AA generates new cardiac myocytes (Takahashi et al 2003)
8. People with the highest levels of vitamin C have the lowest levels of the proinflammatory cortisol.  

Etc. Please see the posters which cite the references.  And most of these studies are for anyone taking vitamin C supplements, as opposed to those getting the level which provides the maximum serum level possible through oral dosing, 500 mg twice a day.  Imagine how much suffering from stroke damage could be eliminated if mature individuals took 500 mg twice daily?

My current work involves research to determine an optimal oral dosage to prevent the recurrence of superficial bladder carcinoma, with Dr. Tracy Downs, a cancer bladder surgeon of the Carbone Cancer Center at UW Hospital.  I am seeking funding for a study on the use of oral vitamin C to reduce concussion damage for athletes and traumatic brain injury for the military.

Vague headlines like yours claiming simply "Vitamin C gets an F" promote the confusion most people have, that vague generalizations show everything is black and white.  I argued with Maret Traber that the nutritional guidelines were misleading when they provided only a daily value.  Her efforts led to the establishment of the Upper Limit for nutrients.  The daily value provides enough to prevent short term illness.  Exceeding the UL is hazardous. But the dosage for long term health, reducing the risk for chronic disease, is somewhere between the DV and the UL.  My research provides a basis for hypothesizing that the optimal level for vitamin C is 500mg about every 12 hours.  There is ample evidence that this dosage will reduce the risk of colds and kidney stones and stroke damage and concussion and much chronic disease.

I will be happy to provide further information if you have questions.  I maintain a substantial website on nutrition for teaching, and send a nutrition newsletter to many experts around the world that summarizes and links to the latest published research of the American Society of Nutrition, to which I was elected for my vitamin C research.

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Professor, Biochemistry, Beloit College, fall schedule
Classes 10-12MWF; 1-3TR; 9-12T

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