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Is the importance of Vitamin C just a myth?

Vitamin C
Vitamin C

A recent study suggests how the old belief that Vitamin C is the ultimate antidote to the common cold and other diseases related to the immune system, is nothing more than a myth.

Linus Pauling, a twice winner of a Nobel prize, spent his entire life researching biochemistry and how vitamins benefit the human body. He is contributed for discovering and classifying Sickle-cell disease and introducing several groundbreaking methods in treating various infective diseases. He is considered by many to be the “founder of molecular biology”.

However, Pauling is guilty of spreading a claim that has become one of the most popular medical myths in the whole world – the idea that Vitamin C can prevent and speed up a common cold.

Pauling first heard about its healing properties from a certain doctor Stone, who, at the time, claimed that a dosage of 3.000 milligrams is enough to cure just about any disease. The two scientists even carried out several tests which allegedly proved their claims. They gave the vitamin to one group of people while the other one was forced to combat common cold the old fashioned way. Pauling and Stone soon found out that those treated with Vitamin C recovered from the cold faster and easier than those who didn’t receive it.

Vitamin C

Many myths about Vitamin C were created and spread by Linus Pauling, an American biochemist

However, these results were dismissed as flawed and inconclusive by other doctors and medical organizations. The doctors claimed that participants who received the treatment were already in a better shape than others, so their recovery had nothing to do with Vitamin C, but with their overall health and fitness.

But that didn’t stop Pauling. In 1970, he published a book called “Vitamin C and the common cold“, which became a bestseller and brought him a Nobel prize. Twice. Pauling claimed that high doses of Vitamin C could cure all kinds of diseases, ranging from a common cold all the way to serious heart-related disorders. Several medical organizations and universities warned about the fallacy of these beliefs, but to no avail. The people were crazy about Pauling and supported him in every way they could.

Pauling died in 1994 out of prostate cancer and left millions of people still believing in the magical powers of Vitamin C. However, soon after, several major companies and universities carried out detailed studies and analysis to debunk Pauling’s claims. Their results proved that consuming enough Vitamin C during a common cold could help the body recover, but that only works if the compound is taken before the onset of the cold, and not before.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C stops a common cold only if it’s taken before the onset

It was also proved that, although it helps the body endure physical hardships during therapies, Vitamin C has no major influence on any type of cancer. It is understood that Vitamin C, when given in massive doses, can help the body kill cancerous cells. But that only works if it’s injected by an IV.

The studies also proved that the compound does not reduce the chance of heart failure, liver diseases, cataracts, pneumonia, nor asthma or tetanus.

Experts point out that regardless of these discoveries, people should continue to consume fruits rich with Vitamin C because it still plays a key role in the body’s metabolism. But they warn that it should not be overused. In fact, consuming too much Vitamin C is bad for gut flora, and can cause diarrhea, making the body weak and more susceptible to infections.

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