Vitamin C

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Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, February 6, 2013

Are Tropical Fish in Danger of Getting Kidney Stones from Vitamin C?

They Make So Much More than the RDA

Commentary by Andrew W. Saul, Editor

(OMNS Feb 6, 2013) Once again, the possibly over-medicated media are trying to scare you off vitamin C supplements. Not to worry: this happens every now and then. In my 37 years in the natural health arena, I have observed that the old “vitamin C causes kidney stones” legend dies mighty hard.

The mythical “vitamin C kidney stone” is a lot like a unicorn. You know what one is, yet they do not exist. For further explanation, the Orthomolecular Medicine News Service will be following up this editorial in a few days with a review article on why vitamin C does not cause kidney stones. If you have not yet subscribed, it’s free, it’s easy, there is no advertising nor any product for sale, and your email address is never shared with anyone.

The Entire Animal Kingdom Megadoses on Vitamin C

Most animals make their own vitamin C, and a lot of it. Linus Pauling and other scientists have estimated this amount to be somewhere between 1,000 and 10,000 mg of vitamin C per human body weight equivalent per day. That means that cows and sows, horses and porpoises, whales and walruses, fleas and flies, worms and fish, dogs and cats, and rabbits and rats all make vitamin C every day. And, significantly, they make vitamin C for themselves in the range of ten to one hundred times more than the government tells us to take.

The US RDA is less than 100 mg for people. Curiously enough, the United States Department of Agriculture has in fact set a recommended vitamin C level for Guinea pigs, one of the few animal species that cannot make vitamin C for itself. The USDA daily recommended vitamin C intake for Guinea pigs is about 10 times what the US RDA is for you. Guinea pigs do not even have to pay income tax. Golly, you’d think the Feds would cut us a break and raise our RDA.

My Tropical Fish Eat Vitamin C Crystals

As I write, I occasionally glance into my fish tank. I’ve had these same tropical fish for years and years. I regularly give them vitamin C powder, pouring a couple of thousand milligrams straight into the water. As the crystals drift down, before they can dissolve, the fish rush over and eat them whole.

Now that’s what I call a megadose.

Yet none of my fish appear to have kidney stones, cardiovascular disease, cancer, hangnails, or any of a multitude of media-fanned scare-diseases falsely attributed to ascorbate.

The Rabbit, Too. And the Dog. And the Kids.

Now I am looking at my pet rabbit. His name is Elvis. (You may discuss the name choice with my better half; she’s the responsible party.) This particular rabbit gets chewable vitamin C, which he loves. He weighs 2 kg (about 4 1/2 pounds). I give him 250 mg at a clip. He loves it and will do rabbit acrobatics to hasten my delivery the moment I open the bottle. The bunny gets supplemental vitamin C because rabbits are prone to urinary problems. I learned back in 1974 that, decades earlier, William J. McCormick, M.D., used high doses of vitamin C to prevent and treat kidney stones. (A complete listing of the doctor’s papers is at

I had a long-lived dog that would do tricks for vitamin C. Not chewables, but straight-up, unflavored ascorbic acid. The dog would roll over or do pretty much whatever stunt was in her repertoire in order to get her vitamin C supplement.

My children were raised on vitamin C. They never had a single dose of any antibiotic, not once, ever. No doubt a placebo effect, eh? And now my grandchildren are getting the same vitamin C supplementation from their parents. They seem mighty healthy to me.

As for myself, I take 18,000 mg/day, in good health. Why that amount? Because that is the amount Linus Pauling took. Some medical pundits disparage Dr. Pauling’s advocacy of vitamin C. I have noticed that Dr. Pauling’s critics tend to have two fewer Nobels than Dr. Pauling did. Yes, Pauling died from cancer in 1994. Dr. Charles Moertel of the Mayo Clinic, ardent critic of vitamin C, also died of cancer, and that very same year. Moertel was 66. Pauling was 93. Pauling lived 27 years longer with ascorbate than Moertel lived without it.

That is good enough for me.


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Editorial Review Board:

Ian Brighthope, M.D. (Australia)
Ralph K. Campbell, M.D. (USA)
Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D. (USA)
Damien Downing, M.D. (United Kingdom)
Dean Elledge, D.D.S., M.S. (USA)
Michael Ellis, M.D. (Australia)
Martin P. Gallagher, M.D., D.C. (USA)
Michael Gonzalez, D.Sc., Ph.D. (Puerto Rico)
William B. Grant, Ph.D. (USA)
Steve Hickey, Ph.D. (United Kingdom)
Michael Janson, M.D. (USA)
Robert E. Jenkins, D.C. (USA)
Bo H. Jonsson, M.D., Ph.D. (Sweden)
Thomas Levy, M.D., J.D. (USA)
Stuart Lindsey, Pharm.D. (USA)
Jorge R. Miranda-Massari, Pharm.D. (Puerto Rico)
Karin Munsterhjelm-Ahumada, M.D. (Finland)
Erik Paterson, M.D. (Canada)
W. Todd Penberthy, Ph.D. (USA)
Gert E. Schuitemaker, Ph.D. (Netherlands)
Robert G. Smith, Ph.D. (USA)
Jagan Nathan Vamanan, M.D. (India)

Andrew W. Saul, Ph.D. (USA), Editor and contact person. Email: This is a comments-only address; OMNS is unable to respond to individual reader emails. However, readers are encouraged to write in with their viewpoints. Reader comments become the property of OMNS and may or may not be used for publication.


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