Vitamin C

Home , Vitamin C , Cluedo? , How much?

Vitamin C - Because you can't make it yourself

The vast majority of mammals make their own Vitamin C in their liver - removing a few hydrogen atoms from the glucose molecule - to produce this very important substance. Unfortunately we - as well as some primates, guinea pigs and fruit bats - cannot make our own, so we have to eat or drink it. Everybody is in agreement on that, but not on how much.

The RDA - the recommended daily allowance - in the UK is dealt with here and the summary is:

The RDA for Vitamin C ranges from 15–75 mg for children, 75 mg for adult women, 90 mg for adult men, and 85–120 mg for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. (Note this is a daily total regardless of body weight, not a per kilogram recommendation.)

Here is a link to a video explaining that the maximum that the body can cope with is 200mg/day and that this leads to ideal blood levels.

Now comes the puzzle or conundrum - this is VERY little compared with other mammals.

If we look at animals that make their own on-board Vitamin C

the amounts vary between about 20 to 40 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg) and increase if they are ill or under stress. And if we look at our fellow non-makers of Vitamin C

they eat enough to provide themselves with about 30 mg/kg/day.

This mini-spreadsheet will show you what following their example would lead you to take every day. At a rate of 30 mg/kg, enter your weight in kilos, stone, or pounds and press the button next to your weight.

At a rate of
mg / kg
Weight in kilograms
Vitamin C per day in mgs
Weight in stone
Weight in pounds

Below is an excellent presentation of the research and the results of the use of Vitamin C over many decades. If you feel, on the basis of the above and your intuition, that more Vitamin C is for you, you could follow the advice of Dr A Saul (see presentation):

'Take Vitamin C,
Till you're symptom free,
Whatever the amount might be.'

You could also be guided by the opinions of different researchers over the years:

And be reassured that if you follow Albert Szent-Györgyi's (the discoverer of Vitamin C in 1937) advice to 'Eat Vitamin C like food, don't take it like medicine' it is safe to take a lot. In pharmacology there is the LD50 measurement to indicate the toxicity of different substances: what dose would cause the death of 50% of a group taking it. The larger the dose, the safer the substance. This table shows some common substances:

So you can see that at 64 kilos you would have to take about three quarters of a kilo at one time to do yourself harm!

For details of where care might need to be taken see this excellent presentation by Dr Suzanne Humphries with G6PD deficiency (at 1h39m) or a predisposition to kidney stones (at 1h40m) - drink plenty of water with your Vitamin C.

Forms of Vitamin C
It comes in different forms. Ascorbic acid crystals are lowest cost, capsules of 1000mg = 1 gram are convenient. Liposomal vitamin C is better absorbed, sodium ascorbate can also be used for IV use, Ester-C might give you more calcium than is good for you if you want to take lots of Vitamin C (See Death by Calcium by Dr Levy). The effervescent ones are fun too, although some of them have aspartame as a sweetener. Taking large doses of Vitamin C may seem strange and a bit scary - watch the presentation for advice. Here's why we don't make our own Vitamin C.

Other links
Here is a link to the entry on Wikipedia about Vitamin C for comparison. It says "Evidence does not support its use for the prevention of the common cold.[6][7 WHO 2009] There is, however, some evidence that regular use may shorten the length of colds.[8]" The common cold is also a coronavirus.
Here is a document on the SARS epidemic - interesting particularly for the consequences of treatment with steroids, antivirals, and invasive mechanical ventilation.
And then there's this.

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