Vitamin C in Humans and other Mammals
There are 4,000 other species of mammals that have the ability manufacture Vitamin C, and in substantial quantities. Unfortunately, to the dismay of the human species, we do not synthesize Vitamin C. This is due to a mutation in the GULO (gulonolactone oxidase) gene, which results in the inability to manufacture the protein. However, the red blood cells of the handful of Vitamin C-defective species are specially equipped to absorb the vitamin’s oxidized form, using the GULO enzyme.
With proper nutrition, humans are able to consume more than enough Vitamin C from our diet. It is also suggested that organisms without a functional GULO gene have a method of “recycling” the Vitamin C that they obtain from their diets using red blood cells. Of interest, a 2008 published study claimed to have successfully reinstated the ability to produce Vitamin C in mice. This human evolutionary flaw makes the focus on consuming Vitamin C so important for humans.
So what is all of the hype on Vitamin C? Why is it something that we should be concerned about and why should we consume this in oral supplement form- or better yet, though the intravenous route? Vitamin C has demonstrated anti-aging effects; this is why the cosmetic industry has included this ingredient in many skin care regimens and products. Topical therapy is useful, but also oral supplement use and intravenous administration have demonstrated their effectiveness. Anecdotally, many patients that receive Vitamin C intravenously for adjunctive cancer therapy have reported an improvement in their skin texture, tone, and reduction of overall inflammation.
Vitamin C is also plays a vital role in strengthening the immune system. The most bioavailable form is liposomal Vitamin C, which has the ability glide across the cell membrane, enhancing intracellular absorption. Vitamins C and D are staples in my integrative medicine practice to support immunity, and many of our patients are able to avert the typical seasonal cold and flu viruses. Diet and nutrition play an important role in absorbing vitamins and minerals, however most patients are unable to get a therapeutic dosage through diet alone. Additionally, many of us have a compromised microbiome in the gut, and may have a weakened ability to absorb critical vitamins and minerals. This is where the role of IV vitamin C can significantly improve one’s immunity, as it bypasses the stomach acid and the ‘first pass effect’ with the liver.
Intravenous Vitamin C administration has shown promising results for adjunctive cancer therapy. A systematic review by Fritz & Flower et. al. (2014) reveals that intravenous Vitamin C has an excellent safety profile and important anti-tumor activity. The authors also suggest that intravenous Vitamin C may improve quality of life, reduce inflammation and can modulate disease and chemotherapy symptoms, and they endorse that several cases of cancer remission have been reported.
In summary, Vitamin C has many benefits to overall health, including reduced inflammation, anti-aging, immune support, and cancer therapy. Vitamin C has many perks for a relatively inexpensive, easy to consume Vitamin. So the question remains- what are you waiting for? Start taking your Vitamin C today.
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