Applied Trophology, Vol. 4, No. 9
(September 1960)

Additional Information on the Vitamin C Complex

The following is a transcription of the September 1960 issue of Dr. Royal Lee’s Applied Trophology newsletter, originally published by Standard Process Laboratories.

Also in this issue:

  • Do You Know? (Licorice)
  • Infant Feeding
  • High Points of Niacinamide-B6

Additional Information on the Vitamin C Complex

Vitamin C is no exception to the general rule that all-natural vitamin factors are complexes, and the more they are investigated the more complex they become.

In 1923 Dr. Charles de M. Sajous of Johns Hopkins University reported his discovery of the identity of vitamin C as tyrosinase.1 Tyrosinase was later found to be organic copper (just as vitamin B12 was found to be organic cobalt) and to be essential to the production of adrenal hormones in cooperation with other factors, including ascorbic acid. This finding of Dr. Sajous was ignored by the high brass of medical pomposity despite his rating as the father of endocrinology in this country. Later Dr. Szent-Gyorgyi received the Nobel Prize for isolating ascorbic acid as vitamin C. He also called attention, at the time, to the fact that ascorbic acid was not the only factor essential to the relief of scurvy, that vitamin P was required to relieve the capillary fragility associated with scurvy, but his findings also were ignored. This time the high brass insisted that vitamin P was nonexistent.

Now, with the widespread use of the bioflavanoid form of vitamin P, the P complex is taking its place as an important group, like the G complex from the B group. As Elvehjem said in 1943, “This…brings out the fact…true for most of the vitamins… that several related compounds may have similar biological action, but the degree of their activity varies.”2

Tyrosine in all probability cannot be assimilated without the help of tyrosinase (vitamin C) in the human body. That is why protein structures, collagenous tissues in particular, deteriorate in scurvy. An excess of free tyrosine can cause arteriosclerosis, hypertension, and diabetes.3

Ascorbic acid is now known to simply act as a synergist in this effect, free tyrosine being toxic in the absence of ascorbic acid.4 And the adrenals cannot fabricate cortisone without the help of ascorbic acid as well as tyrosinase, showing their synergism.5 This indicates the superior importance of tyrosinase as the real basic factor in the C complex. Potato juice and mushrooms are the best vegetable sources of tyrosinase.

The physiological importance of the vitamin C complex stems from the fact that phagocytic defenses depend upon the vitamin C levels in the blood. A patient does not die from a systemic infection until his reserves of the C complex are exhausted.6

This is a momentous discovery. It means that in the case of infectious disease the patient really succumbs to a nutritional deficiency, not to the infectious organism. In Germany diphtheria has for many years been considered as “fulminating scurvy.” It is not unlikely that all infectious disease is nothing more than “fulminating scurvy.”

A possible connection between scurvy, the thyroid gland, and oxygen uptake lies in the metabolism of tyrosine. It has been claimed that tyrosine is a precursor of the thyroid hormones.7

We finish this discourse with a nineteen-year-old abstract from the October 1, 1941, issue of Vitamin News:

“In fact, even when there is not a single outward symptom of trouble, a person may be in a state of vitamin C deficiency more dangerous than scurvy itself. When such a condition is not detected, and continues uncorrected, the teeth and bones may be damaged, and what may be more serious, the blood system is weakened to the point where it can no longer resist or fight infections not so easily cured as scurvy.”

Food and Life, p. 236, 1939 Yearbook U.S. Dept. Agriculture, U.S. Printing Office, Washington, DC.

Next to degenerative diseases of old age (also no doubt accelerated prematurely by deficiencies), infectious diseases kill the most people, all the way from whooping cough and diphtheria to pneumonia and influenza, to say nothing of the common cold that wears us down to the point that we contact the more deadly forms of the communicable scourges.

In all probability we can chalk most of these deaths up to the lowered resistance to infection resulting from vitamin starvation. Let us see what clinicians have to say on this subject. Here are two of great interest:

“We are thoroughly convinced that vitamin C particularly is of inestimable value in both acute and chronic infections…The more fulminating the acute infection and the longer a chronic infection has continued, the more is the need for vitamin C. In the presence of infection, vitamin C is rapidly destroyed and its deficiency also predisposes to infection so that a vicious circle is set up…”

—Albee, Fred H., Jol. Inter. Coll. Surgeons III, 5:425–430, Oct. 1940.

“If we can, by the use of vitamins, favorably influence the course of a disease such as pneumonia, nephritis, myasthenia, even eventually to cure them, what would have happened if, before becoming ill, the patient would have absorbed the right quantity of vitamin? The probable answer to that question is that the patient would never have been diseased if he had provided himself with the right vitamin.”

—Szent-Gyorgyi, LaPresse Medicale, p. 995, June 25, 1938.

On the subject of specific diseases due to vitamin C deficiency the U.S. Department of Agriculture says:

“In the most recent review available on this subject, rheumatic fever, pulmonary tuberculosis, diphtheria, and pneumonia are listed as infectious diseases in the prevention and cure of which vitamin C ‘undoubtedly plays a significant part’ although ‘there is no unequivocal evidence that this nutrient has a specific role in the prevention or cure of any of them…’

“Evidence is increasing, however, that vitamin C does play an important part in the immunity defenses of the body and that increased allowances are necessary when these defenses are called into action to combat infections.”

Food & Life, p. 253

The clinical use of vitamin C in pneumonia has a very sound foundation. There is an increased need for this vitamin in this condition (Wright, Ann. Int. Medicine, 12, 4:516–528, October 1938). In experimental tests monkeys kept on a vitamin C free diet all died of pneumonia while those with adequate diets remained healthy (Sabin, Jol. Exper. Med., 69:507–515, 1939). Clinical recovery from pneumonia is favorably affected by administrations of vitamin C (Weymuller, Medical Times, 67, 11, November 1939).

Not the least important of the uses of vitamin C is in febrile diseases of children. In a clinical test the administration of vitamin C gave relief in whooping cough in 24 out of 26 patients as reported by Vermillion and Stafford in the Kansas Medical Society Journal, Topeka, 39:469, November 1938. It is known that vitamin C deficiency occurs in all febrile diseases in children (Bumbalo, Am. Jol. Dis. Childr., 55:1212–1220, 1938). The lowering of fever temperature from the administration of vitamin C has been proven in both laboratory-controlled animal tests and by clinical experience on human patients with febrile diseases (Tislowitz, Compt. Rend. Soc. de Biol., 121:916–917, 1936, and Hasselbach, Schweizerische Med. Woch., 67:877, September 11, 1937).

Vitamin C will inhibit the growth and lower the virulence of diphtheria bacteria in a test tube (Gagyi, Klin. Wchnschr., 15:190–195, February 8, 1936). The susceptibility to diphtheria is markedly increased in vitamin C deficiency (Booth and Hansen, Lancet, LVII, 12:531, December 1937). Clinical observations in a large series of necrotic diphtheritics showed substantial reduction of mortality under vitamin C therapy (Kumagai, Yamagami, Nikai, and Imai, Klin. Woch., 16:987, July 10, 1937).

Stepp, Kuhnau, and Schroeder (Die Vitamine, Ferdinand Enke, Stuttgart, Germany, 1935) state that lowered immunity and lowered resistance to infection occur months before scurvy symptoms are manifest. No cause is known for susceptibility to infection other than malnutrition in general and vitamin C deficiency in particular. Therefore every case of infectious disease should be given vitamin C as a primary remedy whether or not other remedies are used. Clinical tests on the administration of vitamin C show that it tends to increase resistance, hasten recovery, and lower fever in infectious disease, especially pneumonia, whooping cough, diphtheria, and child febrile disease.

In the face of such overwhelming evidence, why has not the use of vitamin C been hailed as the physiological competitor of sulfonamide and the sulfa drugs? Certainly, the use of a natural physiological remedy with no toxic effects should be employed in every infectious case, and the toxic sulfa drugs withheld for only the most severe and hopeless cases. The use of natural foodstuffs in place of sulfa drugs in children is especially to be desired in order to eliminate toxic effects tending to anemia and kidney disturbance.

Why treat starvation with a drug? Why not hail the discovery of vitamin C as the food to remedy this starvation? Because pure ascorbic acid has failed to do the job.

Szent-Gyorgyi himself throws some light on the matter in his book Oxidation (Williams and Wilkins, Baltimore, 1939), on pp. 73–74, as follows:

“I am talking in such detail about this substance because of a small accident that happened to us at that time. I had a letter from an Austrian colleague who was suffering from a severe hemorrhagic diathesis (vascular type). He wanted to try ascorbic acid in his condition. Possessing at that time no sufficient quantities of crystalline ascorbic acid, I sent him a preparation of paprika that contained much ascorbic acid, and the man was cured by it. Later with my friend, St. Rusznyak, we tried to produce the same therapeutic effect in similar conditions with pure ascorbic acid, but we obtained no response. It was evident that the action of paprika was due to some other substance present in this plant…”

Here is the most striking example of the necessity of obtaining vitamin knowledge from clinical experience. It is tragic how many times the reputation of a valuable therapeutic agent has been destroyed when the pure, so-called “active” principle has been isolated by the chemist and tested for clinical usefulness. Even such definitely specific principles as thyroxin and the digitalis glucosides are being relegated to discard in favor of the whole gland and whole leaf powder containing the unknown complex that is productive of clinical results where the so-called active principles failed.

Now, in dealing with a food product, such as vitamin C, what possible necessity is there for throwing away the associated factors of the natural vitamin complex? Let us not lose the important anti-infective therapy of vitamin C simply because we employ the chemically purified ascorbic acid rather than the natural complex.

Most of our vitamin C deficiency is a result of the oxidation in the storage and transportation of our fruits and vegetables, plus the reduction in those vegetables occurring because of depletion of such minerals as manganese from the soil. (It has been shown that the use of manganese may double the amount of vitamin C in tomatoes grown on this soil, Science News Letter, May 3, 1941.)

In supplying vitamin C complex to a patient with a fever secondary to bacterial or virus invasion, the resistance of that patient is apparently being built up as the vitamin is absorbed. The prompt reduction in fever is the indication of its physiological effect. The only failures reported are in such patients as have a severe calcium deficiency, often to be seen in growing children, and the parallel use of calcium lactate is then indicated. Definite symptomatic relief in as short a time as an hour is often observed.


  1. “Endocrine Glands and Dental Nutrition and Caries.” Dental Cosmos, pp. 702–713, July 1923.
  2. The Scientific Monthly, p. 99, February 1943.
  3. Martin, Gustav J. Biochem., p. 1397, 1943; Martin and Hueper, Wm. Arch. Biochem., p. 1434, 1943.
  4. Annual Review of Biochem., p. 411, 1955.
  5. Science News Letter, p. 185, September 20, 1952.
  6. Vitamin News, Vol. 9, p. 139–140, October 1, 1941.
  7. “The Effect of Scurvy on Thyroid Activity in the Guinea Pig.” Journal of Nutrition, p. 321, March 1960.

Do You Know? (Licorice)

Brahma, Indian prophet, recommended licorice to his people as a tonic and elixir of life.

Infant Feeding

It needs a warped mentality to disagree with the obvious fact that human milk is the ideal food for infants (having been designed by the Creator for this purpose) unless circumstances strongly contraindicate breastfeeding or make it unsatisfactory. Yet in our sophisticated society, breastfeeding is comparatively rare, is unfashionable and surrounded by various prejudices. It is a most regrettable fact that natural feeding is occasionally regarded as almost a disgusting process…In some families and unfortunately some hospitals and nursing homes, the attitude of all, including nurses and doctors, may be frankly discouraging.

Admittedly, in our present-day society, domestic responsibilities, lack of help, and social, professional or occupational ties make it very difficult for the young mother to find the time, necessary placidity, and desire to establish and maintain adequate lactation…Let me say, however, that when a mother has tried for some weeks to establish lactation, and has failed for whatever reason, complementary feeding should be speedily established, and if the amount of breast milk being produced is dwindling, there is little point in struggling on with two methods of feeding…Artificial feeding has gone through a maze of unnecessary complexity…When a supply of good cow’s milk is available, there is little reason why the majority of infants should not be fed on it, provided one can rely on its being sterilized. The widespread use of dried and condensed milk arose…during war-time conditions.

—B. McNicholl, MD, “Pishrogues and Poppycock in Pediatrics.” The Journal of the Irish Medical Association, November 1959. (J.A.M.A., Vol. 173, No. 3, May 21, 1960.)

High Points of Standard Process Nutritional Adjuncts

Niacinamide-B6 Capsules: This product has been found invaluable in some types of brain dysfunction, mental depression, and mental slowness, or the common pellagra symptom, “refined cereal disease.” This type of patient may also need vitamin C complex [Cataplex C], Cytotrophic Extract of Brain [Neurotrophin PMG], or Ribonucleic Acid Tablets.

Another type of patient will benefit because the physiological effect of B6 (pyridoxine) is to promote the synthesis of vitamin F forms in the liver. The uses of the vitamin F complex [Cataplex F] and B6 are relatively parallel as both promote the ionized calcium level in the body fluids. The addition of Calcium Lactate may be necessary in tetany, muscle twitchings, cramps and convulsions, or other conditions due to abnormal calcium metabolism.



Heather Wilkinson

Heather Wilkinson is Senior Editor at Selene River Press.

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