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Vitamin C

Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is a naturally-occurring water-soluble nutrient.
Humans are not able to make ascorbic acid, and must obtain vitamin C from the diet. Inside the body, vitamin C functions as an essential cofactor in numerous enzymatic reactions, for example, in the synthesis of collagen, carnitine, and catecholamines, and as a potent antioxidant. Studies indicate that higher intakes of vitamin C from either diet or supplements are associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), including coronary heart disease and stroke. Prospective cohort studies indicate that higher blood levels of vitamin C are associated with lower risk of death from all causes, including cancer and CVD.

Pharmacological doses of vitamin C administered intravenously are generally safe and well tolerated in cancer patients. The potential for intravenous ascorbic acid as an adjunct to cancer therapies is has been investigated in clinical trials.

There is no scientific evidence that large amounts of vitamin C (up to 10 grams/day in adults) exert any adverse or toxic effects. An upper level of 2 grams/day is recommended in order to prevent some adults from experiencing diarrheoa and gastrointestinal disturbances.

Caution is advised in high-dose vitamin C therapy as it may cause haemolysis in people with G6PD deficiency, and patients with poor renal function may not tolerate vitamin C intravenously. Research has been carried out using vitamin C as an adjunct to conventional cancer treatment. The major concept behind high-dose intravenous vitamin C therapy in patients with cancer is that ascorbate is a prodrug for the production of hydrogen peroxide in the extracellular space, thus potentially damaging the cancer cells without damaging the normal tissues.

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