Townsend Letter The Examiner of Alternative Medicine
Alternative Medicine Conference Calendar
Check recent tables of contents


From the Townsend Letter
June 2009

Book Review
The Case for Ascorbate
review by Adrianne Harun

Search this site

Vitamin C: The Real Story
by Steve Hickey, PhD, and Andrew W. Saul, PhD
Basic Health Publications, Inc.
28812 Top of the World Drive, Laguna Beach, California 92651
Paperback; ©2008; $18.95; 193 pp.

As detailed by authors Steve Hickey, PhD, and Andrew Saul, PhD, the medical history of vitamin C reads like a laundry list of missed opportunities and willful ignorance.

Ever since Albert Szent-Györgyi, MD, PhD, first isolated ascorbic acid and identified it as "vitamin" C in the late 1920s, controversy has ensued. By definition, a vitamin is categorized as a micronutrient, an essential element that human bodies need in small quantities. But Szent-Györgyi made his classification before the sweeping notion that all vitamins are micronutrients took hold, and his evolving suspicion that ascorbic acid is needed in much larger doses has been shared and strengthened by many other noteworthy scientists who followed, as Hickey and Saul so ably illustrate.

Here is Irving Stone, PhD, who determined that ascorbic acid was not "a vitamin at all, but an essential dietary factor" and first proposed that high doses be given at short intervals. And Frederick Klenner, MD, known for his remarkable use of treating polio successfully with megadoses of vitamin C during a 1948 epidemic. Lendon Smith, MD, risked his reputation when he prescribed megavitamins, including vitamin C, for children in his groundbreaking 1979 book
Feed Your Kids Right.

At the forefront, of course, was two-time Nobel winner Linus Pauling, PhD, whose popularization of the need for high-dose vitamin therapy opened the door to nutritional therapy and lifesaving "orthomolecular medicine." The list of acclaimed scientists and physicians who have championed the role of vitamin C in fighting disease is long – and includes famed orthomolecular pioneer Abram Hoffer, MD, PhD, who provides a foreword for the book – and yet, despite the gains and conclusions reached by these august researchers, the use of vitamin C remains continually fraught with contentious resistance from the medical establishment, which can’t quite let go of the "micronutrient" definition.

So, in
Vitamin C: The Real Story, the authors revisit the definition of vitamin C. They make the case that vitamin C is not a micronutrient needed in trace amounts administered once a day to stave off diet-induced deficiencies. Instead, they argue, it is a vital nutrient that cannot be assimilated from even the best diet in the significantly large amounts needed. When the quantity of vitamin C consumed is too low, the result is illness. Scurvy is perhaps the best-known resultant disease, but the authors argue throughout this book that "almost every chronic disease has been related to an insufficient intake of vitamin C."

The real meat of this book lies in Chapter 3, "Taking Vitamin C." Here the authors address the central debate regarding vitamin C usage: the optimal intake. They look at how and why the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) – also referred to here as the "ridiculous dietary allowance" – was wrongly determined, setting up a seemingly endless battle between those who believe that once an RDA is established, it’s a "proven," irrevocable fact, and those who have witnessed the extraordinary results effected by much higher doses. Most instructively, the authors make their case by explaining the ins and outs of vitamin C absorption (demonstrating the need not just for high doses but also divided dosages), detailing the forms of vitamin C, and debunking warnings about potential side effects.

Authors Hickey and Saul do not shy away from controversy. They discuss the limitations created when social medicine models are used to provide "proof" that ignores or flies in the face of the "basic sciences of biophysics, biochemistry, and physiology." They take the medical community to task for its reluctance to look beyond poorly engineered clinical trials that are not only useless but also seemingly purposefully stupid. And they even wade into a burgeoning dispute, dismissing those who promote a "vitamin C complex" as preferable to the proven effective and simple ascorbic acid.

In clear, concise language, the authors go on to educate readers on the need for antioxidants, before taking a closer look at the use of vitamin C therapies as a central, adjunct, or preventative treatment for infectious diseases, heart disease, and cancer. Overall,
Vitamin C: The Real Story is a timely and valuable clarion call that cuts through misleading blather and making a strong case for the orthomolecular use of vitamin C.


Consult your doctor before using any of the treatments found within this site.

Subscriptions are available for Townsend Letter, the Examiner of Alternative Medicine magazine, which is published 10 times each year.

Search our pre-2001 archives for further information. Older issues of the printed magazine are also indexed for your convenience.
1983-2001 indices ; recent indices

Once you find the magazines you'd like to order, please use our convenient form, e-mail, or call 360.385.6021 (PST).


Who are we? | New articles | Featured topics |
Tables of contents
| Subscriptions | Contact us | Links | Classifieds | Advertise | Alternative Medicine Conference Calendar | Search site | Archives |
EDTA Chelation Therapy | Home


© 1983-2009 Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients
All rights reserved.
Website by Sandy Hershelman Designs
August 28, 2010

Order back issues
Advertise with TLDP!

Visit our pre-2001 archives