Vitamin C & Orthomolecular Medicine

Next time you go to the beach and experience sunburn, try loading up on Vitamin C and see if your skin heals faster than usual.

It may seem like everything about the benefits of Vitamin C was already said, but nothing could be further from the truth. When Linus Pauling was in the peak of his studies of vitamin C, he stated that he wished that he can have 25 more years to be able to examine vitamin C from the point of view of of the ever-evolving world of biomedical technology (1). An obsession with Vitamin C earned Pauling a Nobel prize in biochemistry as well as the title of “One of The Founders of Orthomolecular Medicine” (2). That title gave birth to an entire new system of medicine that seeks to achieve balance and treat disease with “larger than nutritional” doses of chemical compounds that constitute as the natural components of the body (3). Perhaps the most interesting part of of the story is that Linus Pauling ended up living for 93 years and up until his last TV appearance, he spoke about the anti-aging benefits of adequate Vitamin C levels (4)

Vitamin C, from the point of view of One of The Founder of Orthomolecular Medicine 

Perhaps the most commonly known function of vitamin C is as the cold and flu remedy that is known to be anti-oxidant in nature (5). The disease scurvy is also commonly mentioned when talking about vitamin C (6). The most ambiguous component of why Vitamin C is so effective in our body is the point that most common media fail to mention. Vitamin C is an essential water soluble vitamin that can be synthesized in the body by most animals. Humans lack the ability to make this vitamin which makes them susceptible to deficiency if they did not obtain vitamin C in the diet. It is highly functional in the body because it serves many hidden purposes including: 

Collagen Synthesis - The body’s entire physical integrity depends on the synthesis of correctly structured collagen. Without proper collagen formation, we get over stretchy skin that easily damages, muscles that tear on strong impact and bones that shatter like glass (7). Unfortunately, this information was found-out from observing  hereditary collagen disease include: Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, Marfan's syndrome, Osteogenesis imperfecta (8). Other than the essential structural function of holding all of our connective tissues,  it gives our skin the supple, full appearance of youth. Without collagen, the physical structures in the body literally fray and come undone (9)

Strength an integrity are not only physical characteristics of beauty, they are also functional components that serve to protect the body of aging. Consider the structure of the intestinal wall being tight enough to contain the harsh toxins that come in with food, or the high pressure vascular system efficiently containing blood, the ligaments, tightly holding the structure of the joint so not to stress the soft cartilage. Collagen is a huge player in healthy aging. 

Carnitine synthesis

Other than the structural role that Vitamin C plays, it also has a significant metabolic role. Though more studies are required to establish the extent of the relationship Vitamin C plays in the synthesis of carnitine, it is suggested that the early state of fatigue associated with scurvy is related to the deficiency in carnitine (10). Carnitine functions as the shuttling agent that carries fatty acids into the mitochondria where they go through breakdown make ATP (cellular energy currency). Anyone considering a ketogenic diet, may significantly feel less fatigued with the introduction of adequate Vitamin C levels as it is theorized that ketosis increases the need for carnitine as a fatty acid shuttle to promote the oxidation of fatty acids in the mitochondria (11). 

Neuropeptide regulator 

it appears that, by playing a role in the conversion of dopamine (the pleasure seeking, motivation neurotransmitter) to norepinephrine (the fight or flight neurotransmitter) Vitamin C acts as a control molecule. Some studies also show that it is a neuromodulator of glutamatergic, cholinergic and GABAergic transmission and related behaviors. Inadequate Vitamin C levels are repeatedly associated with depression and generally worsening health outcomes, especially with older adults. In fact, a literature review clearly demonstrates that a lower Vitamin C status is more associated with depression and cognitive impairment than it is with scurvy (12).

Other Functions

Vitamin C is not only a powerful antioxidant, it has the ability to significantly decrease tissue damage after infections. Additionally, studies show that it plays a role in gene expression regulation (13). Several interesting studies examine the potential of vitamin C as an adjunctive cancer treatment. As Vitamin C is known to increase the rate of maturation of T-cells, it is hypothesized, that it may also increase cancer related immunity. There are also many studies that examine Vitamin C as a potential modulator of epigenetics. Those studies examine Vitamin C as a silencer of "negative" genes and "promoter" of positive genes (14).  

Vitamin C for Younger Skin 

Vitamin C in the summer is as important as Vitamin D in the Winter. Because of its role as a structural as well as a repair component, internal vitamin C intake may significantly help the body with process of skin restoration after ultraviolet skin exposure (15). Studies show that an effective anti-oxidant like vitamin C can enhance the skin’s ability to repair after exposure to the free-radical provoking sunrays (16). Therefore, it is always great to include vitamin C in a healthy summer regimen that takes into account the increase in exposure to the sun. 


When it comes to building physical integrity, it is always great to think of what to include with vitamin C to target its function further. High quality, absorbable silica that comes from a natural source like Bamboo Silica can highly enhance the production of Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs). GAGs are gel-like components of the body that act to enhance the lubrication and shock absorbance ability of the body. Hyaluronic acid, a simple form of GAG, acts as an internal moisturizer that binds water to collagen. It also plays a significant role at protecting the joint cartilage and adding to the shock absorption capacity of the joint space (17)

Vitamin C for That Healthy, Natural Fat Burning Ability

Those with healthy, adequate vitamin C levels, burned 30% more fat when doing the same physical activities as those who do not have adequate vitamin C levels (18). As Vitamin C is involved in energy transfer, it helps the body utilize energy better. A deficiency in Vitamin C is more likely to affect organs that relay predominantly on fat metabolism for energy. 

Beauty in Both Health & Strength

Vitamin C, has many benefits that can be targeted further with the introduction of supporting ingredients. As discussed, Vitamin C is targeted towards building more physical integrity, and when introduced with a source of silica. In order to increase the benefits of Vitamin C, however, it is always best to offer it in as natural of an ingredient mix. In nature, vitamin C is almost always supplied with some form of bioflavonoid. Bioflavonoids increase the absorption of Vitamin C and also present with their own benefit profile (19, 20). Evidence shows that hesperidin is not only great at helping with vascular integrity, but is a compound helpful for post UV skin repair, and as an effective dermal anti-inflammatory (21).

Vitamin C Targeting Ingredients 



  1. Longer, L., & Better, F. Linus Pauling Institute

  2. Hoffer, A., & Saul, A. W. (2008). Orthomolecular medicine for everyone: Megavitamin therapeutics for families and physicians. Basic Health Publications, Inc..

  3. Pauling, L., & Robinson, A. B. (1968). Orthomolecular medicine. Science160, 265-71.

  4. Pauling, L. (1986). How to live longer and feel better (p. 190). New York: WH Freeman.

  5. Gorton, H. C., & Jarvis, K. (1999). The effectiveness of vitamin C in preventing and relieving the symptoms of virus-induced respiratory infections. Journal of manipulative and physiological therapeutics22(8), 530-533.

  6. Carpenter, K. J. (1988). The history of scurvy and vitamin C. Cambridge University Press.

  7. Minor, R. R. (1980). Collagen metabolism: a comparison of diseases of collagen and diseases affecting collagen. The American journal of pathology98(1), 225.

  8. Morlino, S., Micale, L., Ritelli, M., Rohrbach, M., Zoppi, N., Vandersteen, A., ... & Castori, M. (2020). COL1‐related overlap disorder: A novel connective tissue disorder incorporating the osteogenesis imperfecta/Ehlers‐Danlos syndrome overlap. Clinical genetics97(3), 396-406.

  9. Phillips, C. L., & Yeowell, H. N. (1997). Vitamin C, collagen biosynthesis, and aging. Vitamin C in health and disease., 205-230.

  10. Okamoto, M., & Ueno, Y. (2006). Is sudden death with vitamin C deficiency caused by lack of carnitine?. Journal of clinical forensic medicine13(1), 26-29.

  11. Berry‐Kravis, E., Booth, G., Sanchez, A. C., & Woodbury‐Kolb, J. (2001). Carnitine levels and the ketogenic diet. Epilepsia42(11), 1445-1451.

  12. Plevin, D., & Galletly, C. (2020). The neuropsychiatric effects of vitamin C deficiency: a systematic review. BMC psychiatry20(1), 1-9.

  13. Duarte, T. L., Cooke, M. S., & Jones, G. D. (2009). Gene expression profiling reveals new protective roles for vitamin C in human skin cells. Free Radical Biology and Medicine46(1), 78-87.

  14. Gustafson, C. B., Yang, C., Dickson, K. M., Shao, H., Van Booven, D., Harbour, J. W., ... & Wang, G. (2015). Epigenetic reprogramming of melanoma cells by vitamin C treatment. Clinical epigenetics7(1), 1-11.

  15. Eberlein-König, B., Placzek, M., & Przybilla, B. (1998). Protective effect against sunburn of combined systemic ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and d-α-tocopherol (vitamin E). Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology38(1), 45-48.

  16. Catani, M. V., Savini, I., Rossi, A., Melino, G., & Avigliano, L. (2005). Biological role of vitamin C in keratinocytes. Nutrition reviews63(3), 81-90.

  17. Udompataikul, M., Sripiroj, P., & Palungwachira, P. (2009). An oral nutraceutical containing antioxidants, minerals and glycosaminoglycans improves skin roughness and fine wrinkles. International journal of cosmetic science31(6), 427-435.

  18. Johnston, C. S. (2005). Strategies for healthy weight loss: from vitamin C to the glycemic response. Journal of the American College of Nutrition24(3), 158-165.

  19. Johnston, C. S., & Luo, B. (1994). Comparison of the absorption and excretion of three commercially available sources of vitamin C. Journal of the American Dietetic Association94(7), 779-781.

  20. Carr, A. C., & Vissers, M. (2013). Synthetic or food-derived vitamin C—are they equally bioavailable?. Nutrients5(11), 4284-4304.

  21. Kuntić, V., Brborić, J., Holclajtner-Antunović, I., & Uskoković-Marković, S. (2014). Evaluating the bioactive effects of flavonoid hesperidin: A new literature data survey. Vojnosanitetski pregled71(1), 60-65.

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