Vitamin Supplements: Do You Believe in Magic?

The Atlantic recently published an excerpt from Dr. Paul Offit’s book Do You Believe in Magic?: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine, which takes a closer look at the vitamin supplement industry and the harm it is inflicting [1].

Vitamin supplements

Vitamin C Improves the Mood of Acutely Hospitalized Patients

According to new research, supplementation with vitamin C could improve the emotional state of hospitalized patients [1]. The study, published in the journal Nutrition, demonstrates that increasing vitamin C levels in acutely hospitalized patients results in a rapid, statistically and clinically significant improvement in mood state.

Sixty percent of patients in hospitals have extremely low levels of vitamin C. Their plasma levels are less than half that of normal levels; one in five patients have levels so low that they have scurvy, a condition characterized by general weakness, anemia, gum disease and skin hemorrhages as a result of vitamin C deficiency. But rather than giving them sauerkraut, like eighteenth century sailors received to combat scurvy on long voyages, Dr. John Hoffer at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal gave them vitamin C supplements. He found that their moods improved significantly.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that is used in many tissues throughout the body. The adrenal gland contains the highest concentration of vitamin C, and the vitamin plays a crucial role in both the adrenal cortex and adrenal medulla [1]. Humans are one of the few species that cannot manufacture the vitamin in the body and must depend on diet or nutritional supplementation as a source of vitamin C. The best sources of vitamin C are fresh fruit (especially in the citrus family, including oranges, lemons, limes and tangerines), strawberries, cantaloupe and currants. Green leafy vegetables, including Brussel sprouts, collard greens, lettuce, cabbage, peas and asparagus, are also good sources.