vitamin myths

Dom Spinella dspinella at
Wed Mar 18 15:17:11 EST 1998

> In response to Dom Spinella,
> I based my present conclusions on a number of readings and on my
> personal experience with insect bites. There is one article you might
> want to check out. It is in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,
> Volume 63 Number 5 May 1996. The title is: "Total Vitamin C, ascorbic
> acid, and dehydroascorbic acid concentrations in plasma of critically
> ill patients". You can find an abstract at:
> "".
> If the experiment is successful what wii you conclude?
> Regards, Ralph L. Samson

Don't get me wrong, Ralph -- I am not disputing that Vitamin C may play
some role in immunity.  The problem I have (and you and I exchanged
postings on this topic before) is the extrapolation of of experimental
data in papers like the above into sweeping generalizations like your
previous "Vitamin C is, quite literally, the fuel of the immune
system".  I also think your "experiments"  are quite naive.  I seriously
doubt that you can perform a local immune challenge to a human subject
and see, as a consequence, a significant effect on systemic levels of
Vitamin C.  Its like trying to decide whether or nor glucose is
important to immune cells by measuring the fall in blood glucose after a
local immunization.  My point was, if you see no differences (the likely
outcome), it tells you nothing at all about the role of Vitamin C in
immune responses. Moreover, I don't wish to disuade you from your
obvious relish to understand immunology and dabble in experimental
design (would that more laymen shared your enthusiasm).  It's just that
real science is performed by designing experiments to DISPROVE your pet
hypothesis.  If you begin by assuming as true what you are setting out
to prove, you get nowhere. That's probably the most fundamental rule of
scientific investigation. This is all the more true of anecdotal
experiences like yours with insect bites.  
Dom Spinella

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