Why Vitamin C is the Dream Woo
Vitamin C has been touted as a cure-all for decades, if not a century. It’s still not a panacea, so why the harping?
First, let’s get one thing out of the way: upper-crust folks were not suffering from scurvy before the Victorian Era. Some twit suggested that, since peasants ate plants and aristocrats ate lots of meat in the Middle Ages, nobles had scurvy. There is one account of an outbreak of scurvy brought on by a Lenten diet during the Crusades, and maybe talk of it in Northern Europe. Virtually nothing else was written on it between Hippocrates and the Age of Sail in the 16th century. Otherwise, there isn’t much sign that it was common or a big problem before folks hit the waves for months on end.
That is because you need only a tiny amount of Vitamin C in order to have enough, and it is in everything from fruit sauces to cooked onions, both which were beloved of Medieval cooks and all right-thinking people.
Today, we all take in between 95 and 107 mg of Vitamin C every day. Guinea pigs and humans are the only ones who have to do this. Other animals make their own, so any cat food advertising how it has Vitamin C is preying on your ignorance.
So why does Vitamin C take so much limelight? Why acting like it cures everything?
Just Enough Science To Be Dangerous
Vitamin C is, in fact, important to your body for a whole slew of processes such as making collagen and neurotransmitters. And scurvy is a real thing.
Some claims about the vitamin aren’t so firm, however. There are some lab studies that ‘suggest’ that Vitamin C ‘may help’ improve immunity, fight cancer, and prevent strokes. That is a lot of ‘maybe’ in a lab that doesn’t add up to real world results.
Testing in people has had mixed results and often isn’t impressive.
Taking too much ‘may’ also cause kidney stones.
For something that brings its producers $600 million a year, it doesn’t require a huge investment.
The Reichstein process that is used to create most of it takes glucose from starch, turns it into sorbitol, and then treats it with a couple different fermentation processes. I don’t really care how it is made and I really don’t want to turn this into an ‘ew, chemicals’ article, but my point is that it is cheap and quick to make in a lab. Historically, it will cost $3 to $10 per kilo to buy wholesale.
If you want to have a wide profit margin, you can charge 100% more than what it cost you to make it and not cause sticker shock.
‘What’s the Harm?’
Vitamin C, famously, is peed out of the system if you don’t need it, and you don’t need most of it. It’s hard to overdose on, and people are unlikely to keel over right after downing a bottle of pills. Want to claim it cures ‘brain fog’ and ‘wheat belly?’ Why not? No one will sue you when literally nothing happens.
At worst, too much Vitamin C might cause headaches, stomachaches, and flushing. Your mark, I mean customer, isn’t likely to take enough to have any of that happen. Really, the harm is spending money where it won’t do any good.
This is the ultimate panacea: backed by enough evidence to keep actual scientists making endless qualifiers and explaining nuances, cheap and harmless enough to bring the dishonest money without lawsuits. Win-win.
Well, you lose because you could have eaten your also-cheap broccoli and potato skins, and then gone about your day. Instead, you read this screed about Vitamin C.