Can the Recommended Daily Allowance of Vitamin C Cause Scurvy?
In 1975, Australian physician, Archie Kalokerinos, M.D. was called upon to care for the very sick Aborigine population (the Australian natives). Of particular concern was the incredibly high death rate among aborigine children. Astoundingly, one in every two Aborigine babies was dying (hence the title of his book, “Every Second Child”).
He discovered two important things: Number one- the children were dying after receiving vaccinations. Many of the children were already sick before vaccination, which led to his second discovery- the children were extremely malnourished; in particular, they were deficient in Vitamin C. The Vitamin C deficiency caused them incredible susceptibility to illness. Since vitamin C is depleted by illness, or vaccination (among other stressors) the vaccines pushed them over the brink and ultimately caused their demise.
He realized that by supplementing these children with modest doses of Vitamin C, he could prevent most, if not all deaths. He continued to supplement and vaccinate, but later realized that the vaccines were not helping to prevent death (since they were causing death) and eventually recommended against vaccination altogether. To his frustration, Dr. Kalokerinos’s discoveries about the deadly potential of vitamin C deficiency and vaccine-related scurvy deaths went completely unheeded by medical authorities worldwide. This was despite the fact that simply supplementing with vitamin C has the potential to prevent disease and death, particularly in impoverished malnourished populations.
Vitamin C deficiency is common among people across the world, not only under primitive conditions. People who eat few fruits and vegetables are likely to be deficient. If the deficiency is severe enough, it can cause scurvy, a potentially deadly condition. To prevent scurvy, European sailors ate fermented cabbage (sauerkraut), and Chinese sailors ate bean sprouts throughout their long sea journeys. The vitamin C content in these vegetables actually increases during the fermentation/sprouting process. These dietary methods were highly effective in preventing scurvy deaths among sailors.
Most people today are aware of the importance of Vitamin C. However, we have been sorely misinformed about how much is needed on a daily basis. The U.S. RDA, recommends 60mg of vitamin C daily, which has caused much suspicion from consumers, since this amount is so minute. Most people probably need about 10 times this dose. Aware of the inadequacy of the Recommended Daily Allowance, most vitamin manufacturers offer supplements with a minimum of 250mg per dose, which is around quadruple the RDA suggestion.
When orange juice containers claim that 1 cup of juice contains 100% daily value of vitamin C, this is highly misleading. Firstly, most orange juice contains no vitamin C, because the juice is pasteurized and heat destroys vitamin C. Exposure to air over time also causes vitamin C content to diminish, so bottled juices are not likely to contain much vitamin C at all.
Secondly, even if there were 60mg in every cup of juice, this is a dangerously inadequate dose, approaching scurvy levels. Since soil quality today is poor in many places, many fresh fruits and vegetables contain far less vitamin C than expected. So unless you have a fresh daily supply of high quality organically-grown fruits and vegetables, it is recommended that you take a vitamin C supplement every day.
The best way to take vitamin C is in small doses (250mg) throughout the day, because the body uses it quickly but cannot store it, so excess will be wasted. Just like water, you can’t drink your day’s supply first thing in the morning and hope you won’t need another drink for the rest of the day (unless you’re a camel). Fat soluble vitamins, like A,D,E, & K, can be stored longer in the body and don’t necessarily need to be taken daily. If you are pressed for time, or if the thought of taking supplements throughout the day sounds daunting, especially if you are not in the midst of fighting an illness, you can take 250mg to 1000mg of vitamin C once a day.
Vitamin C comes in many forms. For children, ascorbic acid is usually preferred, because it’s sour, and can be sweetened to create a pleasant taste. Other versions, like sodium or calcium ascorbate can be great in pill form, but they are bitter and unpalatable for children. In our home we dissolve ascorbic acid powder in water and add fruit juice concentrate for the kids. The adults mix it with plain water or seltzer.
To boost immune function, it is best to take small amounts throughout the day. Large doses can have a laxative effect, which may be beneficial for those in need of a laxative. The laxative effect of vitamin C is one of the reasons why there is no concern about overdosing. Once your body has absorbed all it can, the rest will be eliminated through the bowels. The dose which causes diarrhea is known as “bowel tolerance”; it is considered beneficial for individuals to figure out how many milligrams causes this effect and then take a bit less than that each day.
In addition to supporting the immune system, vitamin C is also a detoxifier and nature’s "antibiotic". It has been used to remove deadly poisons, such as after exposure to toxic heavy metals or pesticides. It has even been used in the treatment of cancer. The following potentially lifesaving medical breakthrough has sadly been largely forgotten by the world: In 1949, Dr. Fred Klenner reported successful treatment against polio, diphtheria, herpes zoster, herpes simplex, chicken pox, influenza, measles, mumps, and viral pneumonia with injections of large doses of vitamin C. “The results,” he wrote, “which we have reported in virus diseases using vitamin C as the antibiotic may seem fantastic.”
I will point out that antibiotics kill bacteria and are ineffective against viruses. In fact, despite the existence of anti-virals, modern medicine has no truly effective treatment for viruses. Therefore, one might expect modern medicine to jump on an effective and inexpensive option like vitamin C. Instead, the medical establishment continues to recommend doses that are too low to have any curative effect, offering just enough to keep healthy people from dying of scurvy. In case of illness, the 60mg recomendation is dangerously inadequate.
Yael Tusk, M.Sc. is a practitioner of Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine in Jerusalem, at The Center for Natural Medicine. She has been treating adults and children for over a decade. She is trained in designing and evaluating scientific studies and specializes in researching and debunking scientific myths. Look out for her upcoming myth-busting book on health! Health: A Natural Approach
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