Sunday, January 4, 2015

Can taking Vitamin C improve your public speaking and also do many other wonderful things?

Maybe, maybe not.  An article by Dale Cyphert on Managing Stage Fright says that Vitamin C:

“Reduces the effects of over-exertion, increases energy, stamina and general resistance to stress.  If you catch colds frequently are feel run-down, you night not have the energy left for giving a speech.”

But wait, there’s more! Vitamin C has been claimed to do all sorts of other amazing things. In a nine-minute infomercial, chiropractor Michael Pinkus claims that:

“....The bottom line is without enough Vitamin C and the right type of vitamin C you have low energy, pain, your immune system’s compromised, you’re more prone to cancer, heart attacks, cataracts, allergies, diabetes, the list goes on and on.”

He came up with a product called Super C22 which the Dr. Newton’s Naturals web page says:  

“ packed with 22 of the most powerful forms of vitamin C, with each serving delivering 1500mg of vitamin C, or 2500% of the Recommended Daily Value. Let Super C22™ help to boost your energy, lower your blood pressure, and even shield against heart disease and stroke...

... You should be getting 3000-4000 mg of vitamin C daily for optimal health....”

At the very bottom of the page (in tiny type) there is the usual disclaimer that:

*”These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.”

Gee whiz! I have heard the longer infomercial on weekend early morning AM radio, and it sure sounded like claims to prevent lots of diseases. It aired Saturday after the 6:00 AM news on KBOI and ran till 6:30.

If you ask a chemist, he’ll tell you there really is only one form of Vitamin C, also known as L-ascorbic acid. It’s a fairly simple molecule of carbon (C), oxygen (O) and hydrogen (H), as shown above. What Pinkus should have said was they use Vitamin C from 22 different plant sources. Why 22? All I can think of is the irrelevant reason that there are 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet.  

The U.S. National Library of Medicine is part of the National Institutes of Health. They have a MedlinePlus page about Vitamin C with sections on How effective is it? that uses the following categories for organization:

Effective for...
Likely effective for...
Possibly effective for...
Possibly ineffective for...
Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for...

The only thing Vitamin C really is effective for is Vitamin C deficiency. It is likely effective for... Iron absorption and tyrosinemia (a genetic order in newborns). Everything else falls in the third category possibly effective for or worse. (Under How it Works, it does say that Vitamin C also plays an important role in maintaining proper immune function). 

Under the last category, Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for, they list:

“Mental stress. Limited evidence suggests that vitamin C might reduce blood pressure and symptoms during times of mental distress.”

So, Mr. Cyphert’s claim about resistance to stress really isn’t supported.

Cataracts and Diabetes also are in that category, which disagree with Pinkus’s claims.

How about some cancers? Under the third category, Possibly effective for...,  they mention mouth cancer and other cancers. Under the worst category, Possibly ineffective for..., they list:

Lung cancer, Pancreatic cancer, and prostate cancer.

Under the last category, Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for, they list:

Bladder cancer, Breast cancer, Cervical cancer, Colorectal cancer, Endometrial cancer, Esophogeal cancer, Ovarian cancer, and Stomach cancer. Heart disease is also there.

What about pain? Chronic pain is listed under the third category, Possibly effective for.

How about low energy? That’s too vague to even be discussed.

What about that dose of 3000 to 4000 mg/day? It’s sky-high or mega - many times more than recommended. The MedlinePlus page says that the daily recommended dietary allowances (RDAs) are 90 mg for men and 75 mg for women. For women, 3000 to 4000 mg/day is 40 to 53 times what is recommended. That MedlinePlus page also says for adults and pregnant and lactating women not to take more than 2000 mg/day.

What might happen if you take too much?

The MedlinePlus page says that:

“Amounts higher than 2000 mg daily are POSSIBLY UNSAFE and may cause a lot of side effects, including kidney stones and severe diarrhea. In people who have had a kidney stone, amounts greater than 1000 mg daily greatly increase the risk of kidney stone recurrence.”

The last thing you need before or during a speech is severe diarrhea!

On December 21, 2014 a web page of seasonal news at Consumer Reports discussed 5 reasons to skip taking vitamin C for colds. They were:

1) It’s probably too late.
2) You might get kidney stones.
3) Your body will just eliminate it anyway.
4) It could give you diarrhea.
5) It’s not worth the money.

So, skip the excess Vitamin C, since you’ll literally just be pissing away your money.

The ball model of Vitamin C that I added captions to came from Wikimedia Commons.

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