Classics in vitamin c literature: mini reviews of books dealing with ascorbic acid

Mini Reviews of Books Dealing with Ascorbic Acid

Vitamin C and the Common Cold and the Flu By Linus Pauling. Published by W.H. Freeman and Co. Price $19.95.

This work triggered widespread interest in the value of vitamin C in preventing and lessening the severity of respiratory infections. Originally published in 1970, Dr. Pauling’s book has been reprinted periodically.

Much of Dr. Pauling’s work has become familiar to the general population and has heightened the sales of vitamin C to the point where it is the largest selling vitamin in the world.

With the success of vitamin C in the marketplace have come products enhanced in advertising and purported value. Pauling has advocated buying “the cheapest vitamin C available” because, he contends, both the natural form, derived from food, and the synthetic vitamin C, manufactured in the laboratory, are identical. This is not true of other vitamins such as E, which is recommended in the natural form (mixed tocopherols).

To read the book 22 years after publication continues to be an informative and gratifying experience.

Vitamin C: Its Molecular Biology and Medical Potential By Sherry Lewin. Published by Academic Press. Price: 20.

Dr. Lewin is a British researcher in physical chemistry and biochemistry. His interest in recent years, before his death, concentrated on the subject of ascorbic acid.

The book is highly technical but can be of great values to readers who are seeking a scholarly work that presents a total picture of vitamin C and the rationale for its varying effects.

The author’s interest in vitamin C originated with a personal experience. After a coronary attack, Lewin started taking a modest amount of vitamin C (50 milligrams a day) and observed impressive changes in his health. He experimented further by increasing the dosage, taking a tablet before each exertion and was convinced of its effect in eliminating angina pain.

The remainder of the book is pure science!

Nutrition and Vitamin Therapy By Michael Lesser, M.D. Grove Press.

Dr. Lesser’s emphasis centers upon vitamin C and stress. Because Ascorbic acid concentrates in the organs and tissues of high metabolic activity, such as the adrenal and pituitary glands, the brain, eyes, ovaries, and other vital tissues, any form of stress, he says, results in a sudden precipitous drop in the body’s vitamin C level.

In Lesser’s opinion, to guard against stress and to deal with its debilitating toll, large doses of the vitamin are necessary.

Free Radical: Albert Szent-Gyorgyi and The Battle over Vitamin C By Ralph W. Moss, Published by Paragon House

Author Moss has produced a biography of one of the world’s most distinguished scientists. It is a luminous portrait of a man who was constantly surrounded by controversy. Winner of the 1937 Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine, he was also the founder of the independent National Foundation for Cancer Research (not connected with the government agency by a similar name).

Free Radical is a remarkable portrayal of a seemingly average man whose destiny unfolded gradually in a series of events that made world history. Szent-Gyorgyi solved the mystery of the hidden ingredient in paprika, although he had no appetite for the spice itself. But it was his key to scientific fame and the opening of a world unimaginable to the young Hungarian who was neither prepared nor eager for the controversies to follow.

It was from paprika that Szent-Gyorgyi first extracted vitamin C. The clues that led him to suspect paprika are excitingly told in a true to life story that would make fiction seem pallid.

Ralph Moss is also the author of The Cancer Industry, a book that chronicles the battles waged by advocates of vitamin C for cancer research and therapy.

Many years later, when Szent-Gyorgyi was stricken by pneumonia and the prognosis for recovery seemed dreary. Linus Pauling visited him at bedside. “How much vitamin C have you been taking?” Pauling inquired. Szent-Gyorgyi hadn’t used the product of his discovery in many years. Apologetically he asked, “Can you bring me some?” Pauling returned later with enough for several weeks of megadosage.

Eventually the dying man recovered, and the irony of the situation was not lost on anyone. Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, scientist and visionary, could not foresee that he would someday save his own life.

Vitamin C in Health and Disease By T.K. Basu and C.J. Schorah

The authors are eminent professors of nutrition at the University of Alberta, Canada. Their particular interest in ascorbic acid is its relationship to the origin of arteriosclerosis and cancer. They are also concerned with the problem of vitamin C deficiency in the elderly and its relationship to scurvy. Most older people suffer from subscurvy, they assume, which can go unnoticed because many younger physicians are not aware of its symptoms.

The elderly, in many cases, are undernourished. Dental insufficiency may be one reason, overload of medications may curb appetite, and slowing down of metabolization affects eating habits. The consequences can cause low levels of vitamins and minerals with the need for ascorbic acid, especially urgent.

In its fewer than 150 pages, the book manages to cover many aspects of vitamin C metabolism and its importance in periodontal health, the probabilities of chronic disease becoming entrenched when low levels of vitamin C exist, and the effects of drugs and medications on sustained vitamin C levels in the body. Smoking and alcohol, as most people now know, reduce vitamine C content in the bloodstream.

Bone metabolism is affected by insufficient ascorbic acid reserves. The authors construct a persuasive argument for being concerned that proper levels of the vitamin are maintained.

A Report on the Second World Congress on Vitamin C Published by the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine, 3rd and 4th Quarter, 1991, 16 Florence Avenue, North York, Ontario, Canada M2N 1E9.

A convocation of scientists, science writers and reporters, educators, and observers, from around the world, met in San Diego, California, for several days beginning May 10, 1991.

Papers were presented reporting on research conducted in determining the value of vitamin C on a wide range of human diseases (most animals manufacture their own ascorbic acid).

A brief resume’ of these presentations follows:

Cardiovascular Disease

Dr. Linus Pauling was honored on his 90th birthday and delivered a memorable message in which he reviewed the wide-ranging benefits confered hy vitamin C.

Pauling also noted that recent research confirms several theories that he and his colleagues postulated in which human cardiovascular disease is caused by ascorbate deficiency, causing deposits of lipoprotein and fibrinogen fibrin in the vascular wall. Copies of the scientific paper are available from the Linis Pauling Institute of Science and Medicine, 440 Page Mill Road, Palo Alto, California 94306.

Diseases of the Mouth

Emanuel Cheraskin, M.D., D.M.D., presented a comprehensive scientific paper emphasizing the role of the gums and teeth in revealing deterioration of body composition. No other symptoms are as spectacular or show up as early as gingivitis and other disorders caused by a vitamin C deficiency.

Cancer and Vitamin C Deficiency

Abram Hoffer, M.D., a Canadian psychiatrist, offered convincing evidence that cancer can be precipitated by vitamin C deficiencies. He cited ongoing trials being conducted throughout Canada.

Cholesterol Metabolism and Atherosclerosis

Emil Ginter, a clinical researcher from Bratislava, Czechoslovakia, recounted his work with vitamin C in determining the principal causes of atherosclerosis. The emphasis on diet to reduce cholesterol levels, he explained, may miss an even more important factor – the need for an abundance of vitamin C in the blood plasma. The presence of vitamin C, he contends, may play a major role in maintaining proper levels of cholesterol.

COPYRIGHT 1992 Vegetus Publications

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group

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