Vitamin C
  The Nutrient Vitamin

By Thomas E. Levy, MD, JD





Most people today have heard of vitamin C and know that it is an important vitamin for maintaining good health. However, relatively few people, even among many doctors and health care practitioners, know that vitamin C is also of the most important nutrients for man and animals alike. A vitamin is defined as an organic substance necessary in only trace amounts for the normal metabolic functioning of the body. However, a nutrient is a substance that provides ongoing energy and sustenance to an organism, and it is required in much greater, food-like amounts than the trace requirement of a vitamin. Although vitamin C in only trace amounts does prevent the onset of the deficiency syndrome known as scurvy, vitamin C would best be characterized as an essential nutrient with a vitamin-like character.

The significance of this “technicality” in defining vitamin C and its role in the maintenance of health is enormous. Official recommendations for daily vitamin C intake are not even close to being correct. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of vitamin C in the United States today remains at 90 mg daily for an adult male and 75 mg daily for an adult female. These official recommendations even try to inflict an equally ridiculous “ceiling” on daily vitamin C intake by advising that the “tolerable upper intake levels” for all adults is 2,000 mg daily. To say the least, these recommendations are not only scientifically unfounded, they can also significantly damage the health of conscientious individuals who take them seriously and believe that higher doses of vitamin C are not warranted and could be harmful.

If these recommended daily vitamin C allowances are so ridiculously low, what should they be? While the answer to this question will not be same for every single person, the true optimal daily intake of vitamin C will generally be between 100 and 150 times the official RDA recommendations. That is to say, most adults will be supplementing optimally with vitamin C if they are taking roughly between 7,000 and 15,000 mg of vitamin C daily. Furthermore, acutely ill persons can benefit from the daily intake of vitamin C exceeding the official RDA by 1,000-fold.

Supplementing vitamin C in these recommended amounts can be problematic for some people. The highest of the doses being discussed, roughly 50,000 to 100,000 mg daily for some acute illnesses, can only be taken intravenously.


Dynamic Living Magazine Issue Vol. 1  Jan/Feb 2011 next page