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Vitamin C: Whole food complex or synthetic – What does the science say?

The debate between food-based vs synthetic vitamin C supplementation is a hot topic, but research by Dr. Susanne Humphries has helped shed light on this important issue. According to the Vitamin C Foundation “What is commonly called vitamin C, the ascorbate ion, or simply ascorbic acid, is the real vitamin C.” Humphries discovered that synthetic vitamin C in the form of oral sodium ascorbate powder is actually the most efficient and well-tolerated option. In my own practice, I recommend sodium ascorbate as the option for my patients seeking to achieve high doses of vitamin C to fight illness and chronic disease. 

Vitamin C is found in fruits and vegetables like bell peppers, strawberries, citrus fruits, dark leafy greens, broccoli, and select herbs like cilantro and parsley. Without diminishing the importance of these food sources, there is a need for high dose supplementation in times of acute illness like the flu and whooping cough, to prevent chronic illness like heart disease and high cholesterol, as well as to reduce oxidative damage during excessive stress or toxic exposure, like to mercury. New research also demonstrates the benefits of IV vitamin C to reduce complications of patients with sepsis in intensive care units. Additionally, there are benefits to the use of IV vitamin C in conjunction with conventional methods for the treatment of certain cancers. 

In terms of dosing, the answer is unique to each individual. The recommended daily allowance (or RDA) for vitamin C is 75mg/day - the bare minimum necessary to prevent scurvy. As humans, we don’t have the ability to produce vitamin C on our own and must consume through food or supplementation. When we compare humans to other non-vitamin C producing primates and the amounts they require for optimal health, the RDA for humans is not adequate. For example, gorillas are also incapable of self-producing vitamin C, but consume approximately 4,500mg/day of vitamin C. In contrast, goats are capable of self-producing vitamin C and can produce up to 100,000mg/day of vitamin C in times of stress and rarely ever get sick. For humans to achieve optimal health, especially in times of stress and in combating illness, effective high-dose vitamin C supplementation is a necessity. 

A general baseline for vitamin C supplementation is between 3,000 to 5,000mg/day in divided doses, reducing the dose if loose stool develops. It is essential to remember that the dosage is variable based on the person and the condition being treated. Requirements for some may be as high as 10,000mg or more per day. Oral dosing is limited by diarrhea. High doses of vitamin C may require IV therapy. Individuals requiring extremely large doses of vitamin C will benefit greatly from IV therapy because it bypasses the gut so absorption is more efficient and tolerable. 

Bio Energy Medical Center offers high dose vitamin C IV therapy and multivitamin nutritional IV therapy that can be made to include high dose vitamin C. Call our office or visit our website for more information.

Maria L. Gahry, DNP, RN, FNP-BC Maria is a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), with board certification as a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) and graduate certificate in Complementary and Alternative Medicine. As an FNP, caring for families across the lifespan, the foundation of her practice is focused on the use of integrative and holistic methods to prevent illness and treat root causes of disease. Maria believes the relationship with her patients should be a collaborative partnership, with the goals for optimal health defined by the patient. Maria earned her Bachelors of Science in Nursing in 2009 from Wayne State University. She graduated from Wayne State University's DNP program in December 2015, joining Bio Energy Medical Center in the spring of 2016. Her doctoral research focused on the screening and treatment of thyroid disease, which she considers an often-overlooked health problem that influences the development of many other health problems.

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