Revisiting an Old Friend: Surprising Facts About Vitamin C
Daniel Chong, ND - Investigation + Education = Disease Prevention
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Revisiting an Old Friend: Surprising Facts About Vitamin C

What is the definition of a vitamin?
 
A "vitamin" is considered to be an organic compound that cannot be synthesized in sufficient quantities by our bodies, and so must be obtained from our diets. Believe it or not, by the above definition, Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) should not be called a vitamin for humans. 
 
How can that be? 
 
For starters, it’s called vitamin C. If you don’t consume vitamin C in your diet or as a supplement, you will get an absolutely horrendous disease known as scurvy and die a slow, painful death.  That sounds like a “requirement” if I’ve ever heard of one.
 
How then is vitamin C not truly a vitamin? 
 
Ascorbic acid has become a vitamin for humans because all humans are biochemically defective, at least in regards to our need for it.  Nearly every other living organism on the planet is not defective in this way, so is fully capable of manufacturing their own vitamin C. In essence, they all possess a built in mechanism for manufacturing a biochemical substance to keep them from dying a slow, painful, horrendous death. 
 
Where can I get one of those mechanisms?!?
 
Guess what.  As I just alluded to, you used to have one.
 
What happened? 
 
For millions of years the ability to synthesize ascorbic acid has been inherent in nearly all forms of plants and animals from the very basic to the very complex, which gives a strong hint about its incredible importance to life on this planet.
However, humans, along with all other primates, and a select few other species lost their vitamin C making machinery.  In essence, a defect occurred many years ago in one our common ancestors, creating a missing component in the biochemical pathway of ascorbic acid production and a subsequent inability to make it.
 
Fortunately, the environment our ancestors lived in at that time was replete with lush vegetation, naturally high in ascorbic acid, so it could be obtained from food.  As manufacturing ascorbic acid takes glucose and energy, someone who cannot do it will actually end up with an energy saving advantage over those who still can (as long as it is available in the diet). As with all genetic variations, the benefit this defect created, ended up winning out over time and the others who didn’t have it, died off, leaving only people like you and me around, and effectively turning ascorbic acid into vitamin C.
 
Why am I telling you this story?  Well for one thing it is fascinating.  But, more importantly, it’s crucial for your long term health to realize, just how important ascorbic acid is for you, and how to use it.
 
Telling research has been done using animals who can still make vitamin C and guess what.  They make a lot of it, thousands of milligrams a day in fact, every day, without fail.  What’s more, when these animals get sick, injured, or stressed they make more, way more, right away and continue doing so until the stress on their body has passed.  If these animals are altered so, like us, they can’t make vitamin C, then they take much longer to get better, are at greater risk for complications and die much earlier.
 
The RDA for vitamin C in humans is 60mg per day.  This amount will keep you from contracting and dying of scurvy.  An orange has about 70mg. Eat an orange a day and you won’t get scurvy. However, the research above suggests that, if you could still make vitamin C, you would likely make about 2,000 to 4,000mg per day.  In other words, 60mg is nowhere near enough. Neither is an orange.
 
Additional research on vitamin C has shown that if people were to consume just 800-1000mg per of ascorbic acid, they would live and average of 4 years longer.
 
To help maintain optimal health, I recommend all of my patients eat a diet high in plants and fruits (thus high in vitamin C) PLUS 2,000-4,000mg of pure ascorbic acid.  If they have an increase in stress in their lives, get injured, have surgery or feel like they are getting sick, I recommend a lot more, depending on the case, and may even administer it to them intravenously, which can have astounding results.  Since altering my recommendations this way, my patients get sick less often and better much more quickly.
 
So, I am sorry to say, you are defective. Luckily there is an easy way to make up for it.

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