Sunday, January 03, 2010

Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Niacin, Thiamine, and Wound Healing: Fantastic Proof for Vitamin C

If your body is injured, there is much to gain and nothing to lose by getting extra vitamin C, vitamin D, niacin, and thiamine. There is strong scientific support for this assertion. With that said, in light of the large sums of money spent by the medical industry treating and caring for the injured, little is invested in careful scientific studies directed at further elucidating the role of the only four vitamins associated with named deficiency diseases (scurvy, rickets, pellegra, and beriberi respectively) in the healing of various types of injuries. Plenty of resistance to the idea that injured people will benefit from extra sunshine (more vitamin D) and vitamin C, niacin, and thiamine supplements remains. The quantity and quality of the scientific research has not yet convinced enough people to act. Medical professionals are more to blame than the rest of us, but they are, for the most part, not hypocritical. In fact, I expect that medical professionals are less likely than the average person to get the full benefit from these four special nutrients because medical professionals are more likely to follow the recommendations of their colleagues on the food and nutrition board.

Using vitamins optimally isn't easy. I've known now for many years that vitamins accelerate wound healing and have only recently discovered how to take advantage of my knowledge. I originally thought that taking supplements was the best I could do. I just didn't appreciate how practical and effective topical application can be. I am constantly subjecting myself to minor skin injuries - most often to my fingers. I keep a small bottle of ground up vitamin C and niacin tablets (80 wt% vitamin C, 20 wt% niacin) in the kitchen along with a tube of topical analgesic cream. When I get a minor burn or scrape, I rub powder into the injury with the cream and put on a band-aid. I have found this to be remarkably effective. Read more here.

I'm writing today's blog to call attention to a fantastically detailed study of the role of vitamin C in wound healing. The study was carried out by Hoffman La Roche - a leading manufacturer of vitamins. It looks to me like the study was carried out at the request of the fish farming industry. More likely than not, fish farmers discovered that adding alot of vitamin C to their feed was improving yields of fish. Adding vitamin C is expensive, and there was a need to figure out how to optimize the feedstock formulation to minimize the cost of bringing the fish to market. I place fish farming in the world of commodity manufacturing and healing injured people in the world of the service industry. These are two very different worlds which might partially explain the lack of attention that these results have gotten in the medical world.

OK. So here's the study. A large number of fish were divided into three groups - 20, 150, and 1000 mg vitamin C per kg of feed. Humans consume an equivalent of roughly 3 kg of food per day so these doses roughly translate to taking 60, 450, and 3000 mg of vitamin C per day in highly divided doses (in other words taking a small vitamin C supplement with every serving of food and beverage). All the fish were identically wounded (cruel - but not so cruel with fish) and the healing process was monitored with time. Here are the conclusions:

Conclusions: (1) dietary vitamin C intake influences the rate of wound healing in rainbow trout, (2) increasing the dietary level of vitamin C from 150 to 1000 mg AA/kg feed enables the establishment of larger pools of AA in various tissues, and (3) with larger tissue AA pools, the increased AA demand following wounding does not become a rate limiting step, thus healing may proceed more quickly.

To read the entire abstract, click here

A much less expensive study was done in the 1980's with a few rats. This study proved that very high doses of vitamin C dramatically accelerated the healing of wounded rat tails. The researchers found conditions under which treatment with high doses of vitamin C saved the entire tail of the rat, medium doses saved half of the tail, and doses associated with the vitamin C available from a normal diet (roughly 1 RDA) resulted in most rats losing their entire tail. The reference is "Spillert et. al., "Protective Effects of Ascorbic Acid on Murine Frostbite" in Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, Volume 498, 1987.

Overwhelming evidence also supports the effectiveness of high doses of vitamin C for healing wounded skin, including an incredible double-blind trial using severely burned sheep. Read more here.

Similar studies are not going to be carried out with growing children. If scientific evidence from rats, sheep, and fish is insufficient to change the behavior of the medical industry, then scientific evidence is insufficient to cause the change and some other additional advocacy will be required before people get the full benefit of this knowledge.

I try to review all the vitamins studies I can find on the web - so I've seen alot of studies. I would like to see more studies on niacin, thiamine, and vitamin D and wound healing. For vitamin C, more studies will provide little in the way of additional knowledge because the evidence is already conclusive. While healing from injuries, it is useful to take as much vitamin C as you can and to use it topically as well. Read more here, and here.

While waiting for more studies, there is much to gain and almost nothing to lose (you half to learn to avoid or manage minor side effects) by also getting extra sunshine (more vitamin D), niacin, and thiamine.


At 4:13 AM, Blogger David said...

Very interesting reading. Made me think about early days of vitamin C research. They showed that scar strength on Guinea Pigs was proportional to vitamin C intake. The maximum scar strength was reached at some very high level. If you want I can dig out the ref's - assuming that I can find them again! Send me a email reminder - just about to got to bed and have a very very very busy week ahead.

At 2:47 PM, Blogger Ken said...

Alternative view of Vitamin D. (scroll down a bit)

Black-White Differences in Cancer Risk and the Vitamin D Hypothesis

At 2:25 PM, Blogger jdawg said...

Steve, I know this is off topic here, but is there evidence of wheat or dairy sensitivity going away with vitamin dosages you've recommended? I'm very interested and having trouble myself.


At 5:40 PM, Blogger Steve said...


I believe that your question is,in fact, right on topic here. People often take a narrow view of what a wound is.

There isn't much evidence about wheat and other food allergies being "cured" with vitamins. A big problem is that these problems tend to come and go spontaneously with or without vitamins. It's very hard to do clinical trials.

I suspect that injury to the intestinal tract is a root cause of wheat, dairy, and other food allergies. When injury is the root cause, taking the vitamins I recommend in the doses I recommend should accelerate the healing.

Remember, allergies often going away without taking any significant action. If you start taking the vitamins now and the allergies clear up over 6 months time, there is no proof the vitamins were the cause of the cure. Once cured, when you stop taking the vitamins you will stayed cured.

Well - there it is. Proving that vitamins help isn't easy so it's hard to persuade people to take them.


At 5:46 PM, Blogger Steve said...


Thanks so much for the link. I read it with interest.

I did not see this as a contrarian view at all. I'm very concerned about vitamin D toxicity. I recommend that people get vitamin D from the sun. No matter what your heritage, you are meant to get out in the sun and make vitamin D in your skin. Given generous sun exposure, the body will optimize vitamin D production naturally by optimizing skin color. If you stay inside all the time, the skin will get as pale as possible and then deficiency sets in because even pale skin can't make vitamin D unless it sees regular sunshine.

Testing and supplementing is a bad idea that benefits doctors and supplement manufacturers. Testing is a bad idea period since, as the link you provided proves, there isn't enough data to know what the right tests results are yet. Far better to get regular sunshine and let bodies take care of themselves without expensive testing and pill taking (pills and procedures- pills and procedures - pills and procedures). Real health care reform means alot less pills and procedures and alot more nutrition and environmental clean up.

At 1:45 AM, Blogger David said...

Steve you are assuming that the metabolic pathway to generate Vitamin D is working at 100% efficiency. I don't know of the top of my head which enzymes are involved... however I would strongly suspect that the B vitamins are involved as co-factors in the enzymes. Thus without B's you wouldn't generate optimal vitamin D status.

I do agree with the principle about getting out into the sun - cause this normally means being out of air conditioned air and a big dose of enjoyment.

At 1:56 AM, Blogger David said...


Allergic reactions and inflammation go hand in hand. So vitamins/minerals/nutrients that reduce inflammation may reduce allergy's. There is a lot of work connecting nutrients and inflammation but as Steve says it id difficult to set up a study that measures nutrients and allergies.

I do remember one study that had 2mg of vitamin C and omega 3 oil a day that reduced peoples asthma....

At 4:34 PM, Blogger jdawg said...

And Steve, do I assume you would recommend the C being started first if I were sick or sensitive to stuff? I've been wondering and I'm already taking a multi w/o iron.

Thanks again,

At 10:28 PM, Blogger Steve said...


All I'm really recommending is that you keep on trying rather than accepting chronic illness. I don't know enough, and I don't know who else knows more about optimizing vitamin doses. With any luck, all will become clear in the future. For now, you just have to do the best you can.

So -I'm recommending concentrating for starters on just four vitamins: vitamin C, niacin, thiamine, and vitamin D. These are the only four vitamins associated with named vitamin deficiency diseases in western languages. Generous doses of vitamin D can be had with minimal side effects by getting plenty of sunshine. Because of side effects, I have nearly stopped vitamin D supplements altogether. I try to get into the noon time sun with my shirt off every day that it is sunny. That leaves just three supplements as pills. I have recommended, for starters, 2 100 mg thiamine tablets daily (morning and afternoon), 4 1000 mg vitamin C tablets daily (morning and afternoon), and one 250 mg time release niacin table daily.

Vitamin C is easy to use - the side effects are reliable and obvious. Thiamine is easy to use because only a small amount of each tablet is absorbed. Vitamin D requires effort to get from the sun and is difficult to use as a supplement. Niacin is difficult to use so I recommend my column on niacin side effects even for the 250 mg/day time release tablet that is typically well tolerated.

Vitamins are not a fast cure for wheat, dairy, and other food allergies. There's no harm using the supplements, and with luck the allergies will fade away.


At 11:04 AM, Blogger jdawg said...

Steve, thank you. Vitamin D is one I'm going to have a problem with, since I live in eastern Canada. I haven't had any luck finding time release niacin either so I may have to get it online. I did order some sodium ascorbate powder and that should be here soon.
This is such a great resource. There's nothing else online like it.


At 7:31 PM, Blogger Steve said...


It's a good thing the internet has emerged to grant everyone access to inexpensive vitamin supplements.

Just want you to know that I don't have much experience with sodium ascorbate. I use 1000 mg tablets of ascorbic acid. I have some experience with ascorbic acid powder. I prefer the tablets because they dissolve more slowly. Four or five grams of powder in a single shot can hit the stomach a little hard.

There's nothing else on line or off line like my blog because very few people share my views. I've experienced the incredible healing powers of vitamin C, vitamin D, niacin, and thiamine working together. I have made it a point to experience vitamin side effects personally. So, in addition to clinical feedback, I have personal experience of a great many of the reported side effects from vitamin C, niacin, and vitamin D (there are no side effects from thiamine, nor have I experienced any).

You can't really share my views until you have also experienced the same incredible healing powers. Surely there are children in your family with pale faces and dark circles, or elderly folks struggling with dental work, weakening bones, and joint pain. Don't just read this site. Purchase extra vitamins on line and get those around you who are suffering to try the recommended vitamins. Remember that patience is required - it can take over a year for the vitamins to prove their merit. My scientific training tells me you'll have similar experiences to me, and you'll see impressive turn-arounds in the health of your friends and family. Then you can fire up your own blog and join your voice to mine.


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At 11:38 PM, Anonymous Jeff said...

Steve said:

"There's nothing else on line or off line like my blog because very few people share my views."

You've got to be kidding. Millions of people 'share' the view that vitamins/minerals are important to health and healing. They may not be as narrowly focused as you are, (which is a huge mistake IMHO), but there's equal if not better information out there online.

Why you don't talk about other major vitamin deficiencies, like B12 and folate -- just as two examples -- is beyond me.


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