Vitamin C Complex deficiency is a contributory factor in many diseases affecting the human body due to diminished or defective production of collagen. Since collagen is the main structural protein present in all tissues and organs of the body,1 multiple systems are involved in the disease process. Scurvy and cancer are the best examples of multiple system disease involvement.
Scurvy and Vitamin C Complex Deficiency
Scurvy is the first illness definitely identified due to Vitamin C deficiency.2 This disease afflicted sailors on their long ocean voyages due to lack of fresh fruits and vegetables in their diet. Relief was obtained in some of the voyages by the use of fresh lemons.
Kenneth J. Carpenter, in his book, The History of Scurvy and Vitamin C, states, “With the exception of famine, scurvy is probably the nutritional deficiency that has caused the most human suffering in recorded history.”3
Scurvy, the most extreme form of Vitamin C complex deficiency, is characterized by the following symptoms: anemia, swollen bleeding gums with teeth falling out, muscle weakness, extreme weight loss, painful joints that are difficult and painful to move, brittle bones predisposed to fractures, weak arteries that rupture and bleed (hemorrhage), wounds that do not heal, depression, and susceptibility to infections.4,5 The most extreme form of scurvy ends in death with adrenal failure. However, this type of scurvy is rare nowadays due to the wide availability of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Nowadays, the mild form of scurvy called “subclinical scurvy” is common.4 The symptoms of subclinical scurvy are not life-threatening and are therefore easily ignored. The most common symptoms include malaise, lack of energy, frequent colds, cold sores (herpes labialis), sore throat, moodiness, mild swollen gums (pinkish toothbrush), loose teeth, mild muscle weakness, mildly painful and tender joints with occasional swelling (mild arthritis), sports injuries, easy bruising from minimal trauma, non-healing wounds, and varicose veins. These symptoms are due to mild to moderate deficiency of Vitamin C Complex.5 These symptoms can be corrected with adequate intake of organic fruits and vegetables in the diet and with good quality supplements which provide Vitamin C Complex.
An interesting story is related in the work of Albert Szent-Györgyi, a Hungarian biochemist, who in 1937, won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. In the early 1930s, when Szent-Györgyi was trying to isolate ascorbic acid, what he initially called “hexuronic acid,” a “small accident” happened that he described in detail in his 1939 book, entitled On Oxidation, Fermentation, Vitamins, Health and Disease. He wrote the following: “I had a letter from an Austrian colleague who was suffering from a severe hemorrhagic diathesis [capillary bleeding beneath the skin] (vascular type). He wanted to try ascorbic acid in his condition. Possessing at that time no sufficient quantities of crystalline ascorbic acid, I sent him a preparation of paprika [a source of the whole Vitamin C Complex] that contained much ascorbic acid and the man was cured by it. Later with my friend, St. Rusznyak, we tried to produce the same therapeutical effect in a similar condition with pure ascorbic acid but we obtained no response. It was evident that the action of paprika was due to some other substance present in this plant…”6
In the case described above, the bleeding was not controlled by the pure ascorbic acid because of the absence of the K factor which supports the clotting mechanism of the blood and the absence of rutin which strengthens the blood vessel wall. These factors are components of the Vitamin C Complex present in paprika.
Based on the above incident as documented by Szent-Györgyi, the preferred treatment for subclinical scurvy is Vitamin C Complex, found in whole plants, fruits, and vegetables. Crystalline pure ascorbic acid does not cure scurvy because it does not contain all the endogenous food factors necessary for functional and nutritional integrity.6
Cancer and Vitamin C Complex Deficiency
In 2018, the American Cancer Society estimated that 1,735,350 new cases of cancer would be diagnosed in the United States and 609,640 people would die from the disease.7
People with cancer are known to have low levels of Vitamin C (ascorbic acid). The healthy Vitamin C range is 61-80 mmol/L, whereas people with cancer have Vitamin C levels lower than 24 mmol/L.8
Dr. J. W. McCormick, a Canadian physician, hypothesized in 1954 and 1959 that cancer is a collagen disease secondary to Vitamin C deficiency. He noted that the generalized stromal changes of scurvy (changes in the structure of the tissues) are identical with the local stromal changes observed in the immediate vicinity of invading cancer cells. He assumed that Vitamin C, a nutrient known to be capable of preventing the stromal changes in scurvy, might have the same effects in cancer. This view is supported by the fact that people with cancer are depleted of Vitamin C.
In advanced human cancer, the symptoms also include anemia, nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, extreme weight loss, physical and or mental weariness, lack of energy, hemorrhages, ulcerations, susceptibility to infections, and depression, with terminal adrenal failure.
The premortal features in advanced human cancer are virtually identical to the premortal features in advanced human scurvy. Postmortem examination of both scurvy and cancer show identical changes in the connective tissue that individual organs cannot be identified. All of the above observations support the fact that Vitamin C is intimately involved in cancer and scurvy.8,9
The important role of Vitamin C complex in the treatment of cancer is its ability to envelop (encapsulate) a tumor. This is accomplished by the intense local deposition of fully formed collagen around the tumor, preventing its spread.10
Cancer is accompanied by inflammation and a high level of oxidative stress. The formation of cancer is due to an imbalance in the production of free radicals or reactive metabolites, the so-called oxidants collectively called reactive oxygen species (ROS), and their elimination by antioxidants, exemplified by ascorbic acid, one of the powerful antioxidants.11
In summary, Vitamin C complex, with its naturally occurring ascorbic acid component, naturally increases Vitamin C levels in cancer patients.
Disclaimer: The above statements have not been evaluated by the United States FDA. The product offered for sale by Capsibon Botanicals, LLC is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the professional advice of your qualified healthcare professional.
- Carpentier F. What Are Types I, II, III Collagen? And What’s the Difference Between Collagen Types? https://collagencomplete.com/28-types-collagen-body/. Accessed 11/25/2018.
- Mayberry JA. Scurvy and Vitamin C. 2004; https://dash.harvard.edu/bitstream/handle/1/8852139/Mayberry.html?sequence=2. Accessed 11/25/2018.
- Carpenter KJ. The history of scurvy and vitamin C. Cambridge ; New York: Cambridge University Press; 1986.
- Stone I. The healing factor: “vitamin C” against disease. New York: Grosset & Dunlap; 1972.
- DeCava JA. The real truth about vitamins and antioxidants. Centerville, MA: a Printery; 1997.
- Szent-Györgyi A. On oxidation, fermentation, vitamins, health and disease. Baltimore, MD: Pub. for Vanderbilt University by the Williams & Wilkins Company; 1939.
- American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2018. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2018.
- Robertson C. The Link Between Vitamin C And Optimal Immunity. Life Extension Magazine. https://www.lifeextension.com/magazine/2015/11/the-link-between-vitamin-c-and-optimal-immunity/page-01. Accessed 11/25/2018.
- Roger CR. The nutritional incidence of flavonoids: some physiological and metabolic considerations. Experientia. 1988;44(9):725-733.
- Cameron E, Pauling L. Cancer and vitamin C : a discussion of the nature, causes, prevention, and treatment of cancer with special reference to the value of vitamin C. Menlo Park, CA and New York: Linus Pauling Institute of Science and Medicine; distribution by Norton; 1979.
- Newbold HL. Vitamin C against cancer. 1st ed. New York: Stein and Day; 1979.