Ascorbic acid is an organic compound related glucose, is one of the basic substances in the human diet essential for normal functioning of the connective and bone tissues. It performs biological functions of a reducing agent and coenzyme in some metabolic processes, is an antioxidant. Its biologically activity is due to only one L-ascorbic acid isomers, which is referred to as Vitamin C. In nature, ascorbic acid can be found in many fruits and vegetables. Ascorbic acid deficiency leads to scurvy.
For the first time in its pure form the ascorbic acid was isolated in 1928, and in 1932 it was shown that the absence of ascorbic acid in the human diet causes scurvy.
In some cases, pharmacists had high expectations for the ascorbic acid, based primarily not on experimental evidence of clinical efficacy, and on the theoretical assumptions in the first place – the possible anti-radical action of ascorbic acid.
In 1970 Linus Pauling published in the Proceedings of the National Academy USA article “Evolution and the need for ascorbic acid,” which introduced the concept of the need of high doses of vitamin C, assuming they would be optimal for good health. To such a conclusion Pauling came by theoretical considerations based on available to him at the time literature. Pauling suggested that high doses of vitamin C can protect the body against many diseases, including viral (SARS, influenza) and cancer. Ascorbic acid is also necessary for the formation of collagen fibers, to protect the body tissues from free radicals. Pauling proposed to increase the daily dose of vitamin C 100-200 times. He reported that his wife took daily 10 gram of ascorbic acid.
The current opinion about the effectiveness of low-dose (1000 mg) of vitamin C for treating cold is still not confirmed, and the experiments at a dosage of 2000 mg / day (according to Pauling’s theory) were not held. On the other hand, on the assumption that the dose of ascorbic acid significantly exceeds the needs can lead to certain physiological disorders have also been not proved.
In 1996, Norway passed a law forbidding sell capsules containing more than 250 mg of ascorbic acid. Germany followed Norway in 1997. Restrictive laws prohibit advertising of vitamins as therapeutic agents against specific diseases, if there was no a necessary series of clinical trials.
These laws were found to affect the interests of a variety of food and pharmaceutical firms. Because vitamins are classified as food in the EU, their admission to the commercial sale does not require any clinical trial.
Pauling’s hope that the activation of the protective forces with the help of vitamin C will be able to cure cancer, also found no explicit confirmation.
Furthermore, it was proved that use of ascorbic acid duing radiotherapy leads to an increased resistance of tumor cells. The studies conducted by Mark Levin indicated that intravenous injection of 4 grams of ascorbic acid per kilogram of body weight per day proved anticancer efficiency of vitamin C for about 75 % of the cancer cells, without affecting the healthy cells. In this case, tumor growth slowed down to 41-53 %.
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