"Progress in Megavitamin and Orthomolecular Science" (pages 26-48)
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1984-06-12 (June 12, 1984)
Original Repository: Oregon State University. Library. Ava Helen and Linus Pauling Papers
Reproduced with permission of the Ava Helen and Linus Pauling Papers. Oregon State University Library.
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
Progress in Megavitamin and Orthomolecular Science (June 12, 1984)
Optimum intakes of vitamins
During recent years the effort has been made to estimate the optimum intakes of vitamins. The curve expressing wellbeing
as a function of the intake of a vitamin is expected to have a rather flat top, and the optimum intake depends on the genetic
constitution of the person and on the state of his health. For a person in ordinary
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health the optimum intake of vitamin C may be 100 or 200 times the RDA, that for the B vitamins and vitamin E about 25 times
the RDA, and that for vitamin A about 10 times the RDA. Evidence supporting the high values of the optimum intake of vitamin
C is discussed by Stone^12 and by Pauling^(3,14).
The idea that the amounts of vitamins provided by an
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ordinary food diet are adequate seems to be based on two arguments. One is that people on a poor diet show manifestations
of deficiency diseases that disappear when the diet is improved. The fallacy in this argument is that the health of the control
population, receiving a good diet, may be improved further by increased intakes of the
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vitamins; that is, the intakes provided by an ordinary good diet are adequate for ordinary health but not for the best of
health. The other argument is that the plants that are the source of the vitamin-containing foods are similar in their biochemistry
to human beings, and that accordingly the amounts of vitamins
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that they manufacture, which are adequate for them, are also adequate for human beings. One of the fallacies in this argument
is that human beings require vitamin C for the synthesis of the principal structural macromolecule of the human body, the
protein collagen, whereas plants use a carbohydrate, cellulose, as their principal structural
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macromolecule, and hence have a smaller need for vitamin C. Another fallacy^(13,15) is that an organism that synthesizes
a vital substance synthesizes a somewhat smaller daily amount than the optimum, because to synthesize the optimum amount would
require supporting the burden of additional synthetic
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machinery, with only a smaller compensation.
The Food and Nutrition Board recognizes that the RDAs do not apply to persons with vitamin-related genetic diseases. More
than 100 of these diseases are known, most them with strikingly serious manifestations. It is estimated that many thousands
of less serious vitamin-related abnormalities occur, with nearly every person bearing one or more. The
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biochemical individuality discussed by Roger J. Williams^(15,16,17) may arise mainly in this way. Much of the improvement
in health resulting from optimum nutrition may result from control of minor genetic defects.
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Vitamin B/b and the carpel tunnel syndrome
Either a low intake of vitamin B/b (pyridoxine, pyridoxal, pyridoxamine) or the administration of an antagonist (deoxypriadoxine)
leads to serious problems -- convulsions, depression and confusion, dermatitis, stomatitis, and cheilosis. Pyridoxal phosphate
and pyridoxamine are coenzymes for many enzymes including those of amino-acid metabolism, and the
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effects of deprivation are attributed to the decreased functioning of the enzymes. The fact that ordinary health is restored
by administration of pyridoxine in amounts not much greater than the RDA (2.2 mg/per day for an adult male) has given rise
to the belief that the various enzyme synthesis dependent on B-b function at nearly their maximum level in persons receiving
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RDA intake of the vitamin. Recent work by John M. Ellis, Karl Folkers and their collaborators has shown that this conclusion
is not justified. In his practice in a small Texas community Ellis discovered that an increased intake to pyridoxine helped
to control rheumatism, edematous conditions, carpal tunnel syndrome, menopausal arthritis, clinical disturbances following
the use of
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antiovulatory pills, and some other problems^(18,19). The doses used were usually between 50 and 300 mg per day. He and
Folkers, co-author of a treatise on vitamins^20, found that many subjects with the ordinary intake of B6 has an activity of
the B6-dependent enzyme EGOT (erythrocyte glutamic oxaloacetic transferase) far lower than that achieved with a high
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B6 intake. It was shown in a double-blind controlled-trial with patients with carpal tunnel syndrome that the administration
of 100 mg of pyridoxine per day, about 50 times the RDA, led to control of the disease, whereas administration of a [ . .
. ] did not^21. The mechanism of action may involve the shrinking of the synovial membranes adjacent to the nerve. The authors
conclude that clinical
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improvement of the syndrome with pyridoxine therapy may frequently eliminate hand surgery, and mention that carpal tunnel
syndrome is often associated with rheumatoid arthritis, obesity, myxedema, diabetes, pregnancy, and rheumatoid conditions
such as "tennis elbow," Dupuytren contracture, denervain[?] disease, "trigger fingers," bursitis, and periarthritis
of the shoulder.
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These conditions are so common as to suggest that nearly everyone would benefit by the orthomolecular intake of this vitamin.
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Vitamin C and Cancer
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Vitamin and cardio-vascular disease
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1. Committee on Dietary Allowances, Food and Nutrition Board, Recommended Dietary Allowances, National Academy of Sciences,
Washington, D.C.. Ninth edition, 1980.
2. S. Davidson and R. Passmone, Human Nutrition and Dietetics, Williams and Wilkins Co., Baltimore, Md., 4th edn, 1970.
3. Quoted in L. Pauling, Vitamin C, the Common Cold, and the Flu, W.H. Freeman and Co., San Francisco, 1976.
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4. D. Hawkins and L. Pauling, eds., Orthomolecular Psychiatry: Treatment of Schizophrenia, W.H. Freeman and Co., San Francisco,
5. C.W. Jungeblut, J. Exper. Med. 62, 517-521 (1935).
6. F.R. Klenner, J. Southern Med. and Surg. 110, 60-63 (1948)
7. F.R. Klenner, J. Southern Med. and Surg. 111, 210-214 (1949).
8. F.R. Klenner, J. Southern Med. and Surg. 113, 107-107 (1951).