What is Vitamin C?

"Ascorbic acid is an essential food for human beings. People who receive no vitamin C (ascorbic acid) become sick and die," Linus Pauling from his book, Vitamin C and the Common Cold (1970).


Medical doctors are trained to believe that a little vitamin C goes a long way. As Linus Pauling explained, there is a wealth of scientific information about vitamin C, and there is now abundant evidence to support his contention that the more vitamin C you take, the better you will feel.

Why Do We Need Vitamin C?

"Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) is one of the important water soluble vitamins. It is essential for collagen, carnitine and neurotransmitters biosynthesis. Most plants and animals synthesize ascorbic acid for their own requirement. However, apes and humans can not synthesize ascorbic acid due to lack of an enzyme gulonolactone oxidase. Hence, ascorbic acid has to be supplemented mainly through fruits, vegetables and tablets. " Read the full article Vitamin C in human health and disease is still a mystery? An overview

According to Linus Pauling, vitamin c deficiency is more common in human beings than generally believed. The complete absence of vitamin C in the diet will cause death from the vitamin C deficiency disease scurvy. Nobelist Pauling felt that we are all dying a slower death from scurvy. Pauling and associates implicated a sub-clinical vitamin C deficiency, leading to a condition he called chronic scurvy, as the root cause of heart disease. Cardiovascular diseases, including Heart disease and stroke, are the leading cause of death in the United States.

Owen Fonorow National Radio Interviews on Pauling's Vitamin C Therapy for Heart Disease

There is growing scientific evidence, as documented throughout these web pages, that taking more vitamin C than is recommended by medical authorities and government agencies can prevent and even treat a wide variety of human disorders; ranging from heart disease and stroke, to cancer, to diabetes, to viral and bacterial infections, as well as slow premature aging. (Scroll down for recent reports of the latest scientific studies.)

There is even an intellectual argument whether vitamin C is really a vitamin! (Most vitamins are readily available in the diet from food and they are only required in miniscule amounts.)

According to British nutritionist Patrick Holford,
"Vitamin C, ascorbic acid (C6H8O6), isn't a vitamin at all. It is not a necessary component of the diet, at least for all mammals with the exception of guinea pigs, fruit eating bats, the red vented bulbul bird and primates - which includes us. All other species make their own." - Read full article: How Much Is Enough?

To help clarify our thinking and understanding, some scientists are now calling vitamin C "ascorbate," esp. when referring to dosages higher than the 50 or 60 mg daily that prevent death from frank scurvy.

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Check out the Foundation's Recommended Daily Allowance for Vitamin C

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(Note: Vitamin C news posted and discussed daily at our Forum)

Free, Peer-Reviewed Nutritional Medicine Information Online

It is difficult to find authoritative web pages that do not have some misinformation about vitamin C -- the ascorbate ion or ascorbate for short.

In hopes of helping students at all age levels, we provide a links to overviews that were largely correct when we reviewed them.

The best source information for the lay person is Linus Pauling's 1986 book How to Live Longer and Feel Better.

Vitamin C-Complex - Fact or Fiction?

Is there really such a thing as "natural vitamin C"? Not ascorbic acid, but some kind of ill defined complex, only in plants? If so, this fact escaped the attention of Linus Pauling, and this "complex" is not reported in over 100,000 published studies, papers, reports and scientific articles regarding Vitamin C - ascorbic acid.

The Nature of Vitamin C (html)

The official Vitamin C Foundation response to the "Natural Vitamin C" and "C-complex" arguments that are widely distributed across the Internet. The claim that Ascorbic Acid isn't the real vitamin C is provably false. Please print, read and distribute as appropriate.
The Nature of Vitamin C (PDF Suitable for Printing)

Forum Discussion of the Vitamin C Complex

Those who argue that a "vitamin C complex" different from ascorbic acid exists, usually claim (falsely) that the scientist (A. Szent-Gyorgyi) who first isolated Vitamin C also believed in the C-complex by misquoting is earlier work. Here is the paper that explains why ascorbic acid is vitamin C - ascorbic acid.

A.Szent-Gyorgyi's Nobel Prize Lecture On Vitamin C  

Our thanks to Vitamin C Foundation researcher Ralph Lotz for finding this reference.

Karl Loren's Discussion: Synthetic Vitamin C Versus "Natural" Vitamin C... (Scroll down)

Example Science Project

Eight Year old Daniel Crawford's Science Project Contains a procedure for testing for Vitamin C content in foods.

Flashback: 70 Years Ago...

From the September 22, 1934, issue of Science News
Synthetic vitamin C, called ascorbic acid, in its first actual use on medical patients is producing very striking and unexpected disease conquests, the British Association for the Advancement of Science was informed by Prof. A. Szent-Györgyi, the Hungarian chemist who played a major role in the artificial manufacture of this important vitamin.

The mouth disorder known as pyorrhea, a certain kind of hemophilia, which is a disease of bleeding, certain forms of hemorrhagic nephritis, and several other diseases against which medicine was helpless are seemingly being cured by ascorbic acid. Ascorbic acid is not a cure for hereditary hemophilia.

"This is the more striking since these pathological conditions have not been thought to be connected with lack of vitamin," Prof. Szent-Györgyi explained. "These curative effects suggest that humanity is suffering much more gravely from a lack of vitamin C than has hitherto been supposed."

Disfiguring colorations of the skin brought on by illness are also made to disappear by ascorbic acid. Patients with Addison's disease, who have a yellow color, can be bleached out again by the use of this substance.


ASCORBATE WEB One of the largest collections of vitamin C research on the web.


Nutrition Journal Article on Vitamin C

Good overview. Excellent references. The authors make the common mistakes (e.g. they cites tissue saturation without explaining why animals produce so much more endogenous ascorbate past their own 'tissue saturation' levels, etc.).

The New Definition of Scurvy...

The Last Interview Linus Pauling's final interview with the Journal of Optimum Nutrition in 1994.

The genetic reason why we can't make our own vitamin C

Vitamin C Study Abstracts Amazing findings from the latest studies.

Vitamin C Content in Foods (Large file! Derived from the USDA database)

New technology for vitamin C production may end Chinese monopoly...

Dr. Saul's Vitamin C Collection



"Vitamin C is a normal constituent of the body, required for life. It is involved in essentially all of the biochemical reations that take place in the body and in all of the body's protective mechanisms. With the ordinary intake of vitamin C these reactions and mechanisms do not operate efficiently." - Linus Pauling (pg. 123 HOW TO LIVE LONGER AND FEEL BTTER, 1986, paperback)

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