Half of Americans regularly take vitamin supplements, among which vitamin C is one of the most popular, especially during illness. But all the well-known research scientists show: increased doses of vitamin C are completely useless for the treatment of colds and viruses.
How has America managed for decades to firmly believe in the large-scale myth about the benefits of vitamin C? Who tried to deceive Americans - producers of vitamins or, maybe, orange juice? Vox decided to sort out this issue.
Most of the myths, the newspaper writes, are associated with the ideas of the Nobel laureate, scientist Linus Pauling, who came to the conclusion that vitamin C can be a cure for many diseases - and, although it is no longer alive, Pauling's theory still deceives millions of people.
How vitamin C was discovered
For a long time people did not know about vitamin C. James Lind as early as 1747 discovered that oranges and lemons were the only treatment for sailors for scurvy, now a rare disease. But it wasn't until the 20th century that scientists figured out exactly what “worked”. In 1928, Albert Szent-Djorgy isolated a substance found in the adrenal glands and named it hexuronic acid. In 1931, two American biochemists, J.L. Swiberly and Charles Glen King, discovered that crystalline vitamin C in lemon juice matched the properties of hexuronic acid.
Linus Pauling and Vitamin C Passion
Linus Pauling decided to develop the theme of vitamin C. In an interview in 1960, Pauling mentioned that he hopes to live 25 for years to follow the exciting discoveries in science. One of the listeners, Irwin Stone, changed Pauling’s career development pathway by advising him to take 3000 mg of vitamin C daily to prolong his life.
Over the next years, Pauling increased his intake of vitamin C, eventually taking 18 000 mg per day. Vitamin C has become his scientific obsession. In 1970, Pauling published a book, Vitamin C and the Common Cold, which calls on Americans to consume 3000 mg of vitamin C daily.
After that, sales of vitamin C in America grew 10 once a year. Pharmacist Bob Gabriel said that people not only buy more vitamin C, but also ask for higher dosages, referring to Dr. Pauling, who said that this would cause the cold to completely disappear from the face of the earth. The doctor claimed that vitamins can cure everything from retinal detachment to snake bites and AIDS.
Pauling fought critics for the rest of his life. In a 1990 interview - 4 years before his death - Pauling said that people who take vitamin C and other supplements in "optimal amounts" will live 35 to 35 years longer. And without disease. The doctor died at 93.
High doses do not work ...
Vitamin C, meanwhile, lost its position: scientists have repeatedly found that the cold is progressing regardless of whether you drank a liter of orange juice or not. A review of almost 30 studies of people with a cold who take a normal dose of vitamin C showed that she reduced the common cold by about 10 hours from 5 days. But this does not happen all the time.
Researchers have put a lot of effort into determining whether vitamin C reduces the risk of developing cancer. But the effect was not found - the same story occurred when trying to find a connection between recovery from pneumonia and taking vitamins.
... but Americans still accept them
Megadoses can even be harmful to health. The National Institutes of Health says that people should not take more than 2000 mg (equivalent to two packets Emergen-c) in a day. If you overdo it, you may get stomach cramps, nausea and diarrhea. Moreover, men taking vitamin C are twice as likely to suffer from kidney disease compared with peers who do not have to take vitamins.
Why do people still buy killer doses of vitamin C? The idea that it will rid us of colds is still a persistent myth, which is happy to complement the slogans of pharmaceutical companies. In 2012 year Euromonitor International reported that the industry of vitamin C and supplements based on it exceeded 23 billion dollars in consumer spending.