Linus Pauling Vindicated; Researchers Claim RDA For Vitamin C is Flawed

Jul 06, 2004, 01:00 ET from Knowledge of Health, Inc.

    MANCHESTER, England, July 6 /PRNewswire/ -- The authors of a new book
 claim the Institute of Medicine (IM) and the National Institutes of Health
 (NIH) used flawed science to develop the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for
 vitamin C, a blunder that has likely caused millions of people to prematurely
 suffer avoidable health problems such as cataracts, strokes, heart attacks and
 many other maladies.
     Steve Hickey PhD and Hillary Roberts PhD, pharmacology professors and
 graduates of the University of Manchester in Britain, claim they have been in
 communication with the NIH and the IM for over a year, challenging their
 rationale which establishes the RDA for vitamin C at 75 and 90 milligrams for
 males and females respectively.  Hickey and Roberts say some basic errors in
 biology make justification for the current RDA for vitamin C indefensible.
 Even a recently proposed 200- milligram daily intake would still be inadequate
 to achieve optimal health says Hickey and Roberts.
     The main flaw -- the half life for vitamin C is quite short, about 30
 minutes in blood plasma, a fact which NIH and IM researchers have failed to
 recognize.  (Half life is the time it takes for half of a substance to be
 removed from the body.)  NIH researchers established the current RDA based
 upon tests conducted 12 hours (24 half lives) after consumption.  "To be
 blunt," says Hickey, "the NIH gave a dose of vitamin C, waited until it had
 been excreted, and then measured blood levels."
     Because vitamin C is used up rapidly, a very high single dose of vitamin C
 would not achieve the same concentration in the blood serum over time as two
 divided lower doses.  Hickey and Roberts claim many negative studies using
 high-dose vitamin C have failed to recognize this fact and have therefore
 mistakenly concluded that high-dose supplemental vitamin C is ineffective.
     In the past year Hickey and Roberts have shaken the confidence of the IM
 and NIH, revealing that the medical establishment has failed to investigate
 the use of high-dose vitamin C properly, for more than 50 years.  Hickey and
 Roberts have taken the IM and NIH to task for developing the RDA for vitamin C
 on studies using only 15 healthy test subjects.  Normal variations would call
 for a greater pool of test subjects before establishment of an RDA for
 hundreds of millions of people.
     Furthermore, the RDA is intended to set a level of nutrient consumption
 that would prevent disease (scurvy) among the vast majority (95%+) of the
 population.  Yet smokers (50 million), estrogen or birth control pill users
 (13 million and 18 million), diabetics (16 million), pregnant females (4
 million) and people taking aspirin (inestimable millions) or other drugs, have
 increased need for vitamin C and comprise more than 35 percent of the
 population.  The current RDA wouldn't meet the needs of these large
     Furthermore, Hickey and Roberts confronted the IM and NIH with their own
 contradictory data.  The IM and NIH claim the saturation point is reached at a
 certain concentration of ascorbic acid in blood plasma but later published a
 paper showing repeated oral doses could achieve much higher concentrations,
 more than three times greater!  [Annals Internal Medicine 140: 533-37, 2004]
     Because of the short half-life of ascorbic acid, five 100 milligram doses
 of oral vitamin C taken at intervals through the day will raise average blood
 levels more than a single 1000 milligram dose.  Hickey says the blood plasma
 is not saturated when 1000 milligrams of vitamin C is consumed orally since
 NIH researchers themselves demonstrated 2500 mg dose produces even higher
 concentrations.  Hickey and Roberts claim the minimum supplemental dose of
 oral vitamin C needed to sustain blood plasma levels is around 2500 milligrams
 a day in divided doses in healthy individuals.  Millions of others (smokers,
 diabetics, etc.) have needs greater than this.
     NIH researchers doggedly cling to their claim that no more than 200
 milligrams of oral vitamin C is required for human health and that a diet
 which includes five servings of fruits and vegetables would provide 210-280
 milligrams of vitamin C.  [Biofactors 15: 71-74, 2001]  But only 9 percent of
 the US population consumes 5 servings of plant foods daily.  The National
 Cancer Institute has abandoned their 5-a-day recommendation and replaced it
 with 9-a-day servings of fruits and vegetables once they recognized five
 servings a day had not reduced the risk for cancer or heart disease.
     The recommended Tolerable Upper Limit for vitamin C, 2000 mg per day,
 gives the false impression that amounts beyond this would be toxic or produce
 side effects.  In fact, 2000 mg of oral vitamin C would not meet the needs of
 millions of American adults.  The only side effect at this dose is transient
 diarrhea which usually dissipates over time.
     The mistaken idea that high-dose vitamin C supplementation saturates the
 blood plasma after a moderate dose of about 150 milligrams of oral vitamin C,
 and additional amounts are worthless since they are excreted in the urine, now
 must be abandoned, says Hickey and Roberts.  More than a decade ago other
 researchers found that consumption of high-dose vitamin C (2000 mg per day)
 increased ascorbic acid levels in the human eye by 22-32 percent compared to
 when a so-called saturation dose (148 mg) is consumed.  [Current Eye Research
 8: 751, 1991]  Ascorbic acid levels in other tissues in the body, such as the
 brain where vitamin C concentration is 10 times greater than in blood plasma
 [J Clinical Investigation 100: 2842, 1997], make it evident that blood plasma
 levels may not be the gold standard for measuring vitamin C adequacy in all
 tissues in the human body.
     Hickey and Roberts' revealing book confirms the work of Dr. Linus Pauling,
 a long- time advocate of high-dose vitamin C supplementation.  Pauling
 advocated consumption of supplemental vitamin C throughout the day and he
 consumed 18,000 milligrams of vitamin C in divided doses on a daily basis, a
 practice which overcomes the half-life decay problem.
     Pauling also conducted studies using intravenous vitamin C as a treatment
 for cancer.  In recent months published scientific reports even call for a
 reevaluation of the use of high-dose intravenous vitamin C for cancer
 treatment now that a study shows that intravenous vitamin C can produce blood
 plasma concentrations of vitamin C that are more than six times greater than
 oral vitamin C.  [Annals Internal Medicine 140: 533-37, 2004]  Three years ago
 even NIH researchers proposed that ascorbate treatment of cancer should be
 reexamined by rigorous scientific scrutiny in the light of new evidence. [J Am
 College Nutrition 19:423-5, 2000]
     The inability to improve survival times in cancer patients with
 conventional cancer treatment has been disheartening.  In 1991, it was
 reported that supplemental vitamin C, received by incurable cancer patients at
 some time during their illness, more than doubled their survival time.
 [Medical Hypotheses 36: 185-89, 1991]  Indeed, Pauling and associates
 demonstrated that high-dose vitamin C more than quadrupled the survival times
 of terminal cancer patients.  [Proceedings Nat'l Academy Sciences 73: 3685-89,
 1976]  But Pauling's research was discredited later when scientists claimed as
 little as 150 milligrams of vitamin C saturates the blood plasma and any more
 vitamin C than that is excreted.  Now researchers recognize they made a grave
 error.  Pauling even demonstrated that mice given high doses of vitamin C in
 their food were five times less likely to develop skin tumors when exposed to
 ultraviolet radiation than mice on low vitamin C diets.  [Am J Clinical
 Nutrition 54:1252S-1255S, 1991]  The significance here is that even high-dose
 oral supplementation may have preventive effects against certain forms of
     Hickey has called for the IM and NIH to retract the current RDA or provide
 scientific justification for their recommendation.  The NIH has ceased
 communication with Hickey via email.
     Hickey and Roberts' new book, Ascorbate: the Science of Vitamin C, is
 available for immediate download ($6.00) at
      Bill Sardi
      Knowledge Of Health, Inc.
      Steve Hickey at

SOURCE Knowledge of Health, Inc.