Most people think of taking vitamin C for immune support—for preventive support if nothing else—especially when cold and flu season arrives. Now, there is overwhelming research showing that in high doses (defined as 4 to 20 or more grams per day) vitamin C can help prevent and even cure acute and chronic infectious diseases, some types of cancer, and more.
Vitamin C exerts amazing healing powers mainly through its antioxidant activity. It boosts the immune system in other ways, too, by supporting the following bodily processes.
Production and maturation of T cells. This type of white blood cell, called a lymphocyte, helps protect the body from infection.
Production of interferons. These glycoproteins are an important part of the body’s immune system; they respond to pathogens like viruses, bacteria, or tumors.
Function of phagocytes. This type of white blood cell is able to absorb harmful foreign particles, such as bacteria or dead cells.
Antibody production and function. These proteins recognize and neutralize foreign invaders in the body.
All cells are made up of molecules—which are made up of atoms bonded together by electrons. When weak bonds split, free radicals form. In their frantic search for a mate, free radicals create a state of chaos by bumping into other molecules and damaging cells. In the process, cellular DNA can become damaged and even die. This is the common pathway for cancer and a variety of diseases. Antioxidants are so important because they neutralize free radicals by donating one of their own electrons, thus preventing cellular damage and disease.
“Vitamin C is arguably the most important nutrient that we can ingest,” says Thomas E. Levy, MD, JD, author of Primal Panacea. “Infections rarely have the opportunity to take hold when vitamin C levels are normal in the body.”
The problem is that most people don’t get enough vitamin C to ward off viruses and other serious diseases. And when a viral infection or other illness sets in, vitamin C becomes depleted very quickly.
The following are just a few diseases and infections that benefit from high-dose vitamin C supplementation.
Shingles. This extremely painful type of herpes infection develops from a reactivation of the chickenpox virus years after having chickenpox. A recent study published in the Journal des Praticiens, a French medical magazine, reported that vitamin C deficiency plays a critical role in herpes infections and the development of nerve pain after the infection clears up.
Fifty years ago, a medical doctor was able to resolve shingles outbreaks in all of his 327 patients with a daily combination of 2 to 3 grams of vitamin C via injection, with another gram given orally within 72 hours from the start of treatment. If you and your loved ones have not had an outbreak of this dreaded illness, it might be worth it to ramp up your vitamin C intake.
AIDS. Researchers believe that a deficiency in T cells is one of the main culprits in AIDS lesions and secondary infections in AIDS patients. As previously stated, vitamin C supports T cell maturation. Studies show that AIDS patients are severely deficient in vitamin C, and that the disease itself causes this depletion. It’s a question of which came first: the chicken or the egg?
Regardless, this depletion probably plays a key role in the increased susceptibility of AIDS patients to various other illnesses. With aggressive vitamin C therapy, medical professionals are finding that AIDS and HIV infection are sometimes preventable, and even small doses of oral vitamin C can reduce viral load in HIV patients.
Cancer. Dr. Levy explains that vitamin C helps kill cancer cells while restoring unhealthy cells to their normal state. “Vitamin C by itself can serve as the perfect ‘chemotherapy’ for very many cases of cancer. However, regardless of the therapeutic approach taken toward a given patient, vitamin C can always be expected to improve the long-term outcome,” he writes. “The patient will also suffer from far less of the side effects normally experienced with traditional chemotherapy if vitamin C is included in the treatment protocol.”
Case studies, such as one published in the Puerto Rico Health Sciences Journal, suggest that vitamin C given intravenously at doses of 10 to 100 grams a day can improve patient well-being in terminal cancer patients and, in some cases, reduce tumor size. At one treatment center, high-dose vitamin C therapy compared with conventional therapy over a three-year period showed:
61 percent vs. 32 percent breast cancer survivor rate
29 percent vs. 3 percent lung cancer survivor rate
27 percent vs. 13 percent colorectal cancer survivor rate
Choosing a Vitamin C Supplement
Your body does not manufacture vitamin C on its own, nor does it store it. Since vitamin C is water-soluble, anything you don’t use is excreted through urine. That means you need to maintain your vitamin C intake by eating citrus and other fruits and vegetables that are high in vitamin C, or with dietary supplements.
Taking a high-dose, high-quality vitamin C supplement is the best defense for protecting yourself from viruses and other diseases, and for recovering from illness and disease. The most common form of water-soluble vitamin C is ascorbic acid, which is widely available in tablets and capsules. Ascorbyl palmitate is the fat-soluble form of vitamin C; it may be better absorbed than ascorbic acid. It offers the same benefits as ascorbic acid, but it won’t flush out of the body as quickly as ascorbic acid. Because it’s fat-soluble, ascorbyl palmitate is stored in cell membranes until your body needs it.
A word of warning: High-dose vitamin C can cause diarrhea. The best way to avoid this is to take a liposomal vitamin C supplement. In this type of supplement, tiny spheres called liposomes form a protective membrane around the vitamin C. This prevents the vitamin C from being destroyed in the digestive system, while promoting delivery directly into the bloodstream and cells. And because liposomes do not rely on the body’s active transport system for absorption, you can take high doses of liposomal vitamin C without worrying about stomach issues.
Please consult with your physician for an individualized dosage plan to meet your needs.
Whatever your reason for seeking out vitamin C, the body-benefitting antioxidant is sure to ease at least some—if not all—of your ailments. Perhaps Garry F. Gordon, MD, DO, says it best: “There is no question in my mind that vitamin C is truly as close to a cure-all that we have today. Every health problem will respond to treatment and recover better when patients are receiving adequate levels of vitamin C.”
About the Author
Barbra Cohn currently writes for examiner.com on Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. She specializes in researching dietary supplements and writing new product promotional copy for established and start-up nutritional supplement companies, and she is a certified nutrition educator. Visit her at cohnwritingsolutions.com.