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Vitamin C and your health: C for crucial, C for controversial

Updated: June 01, 2006

Call it ascorbic acid, and it sounds like a fierce industrial solvent that should be stored under lock and key. Call it vitamin C, and it sounds like something that belongs in every man's medicine chest. Call it an essential part of the human diet, and you'll be right. Call it a superfluous supplement, and you'll also be right. Call it what you will, but understand why vitamin C is essential for your health and why a good diet makes supplementary doses unnecessary.

Soluble C

Humans are unique members of the animal kingdom. Among other things, we are one of the few species that require vitamin C. That requirement was first demonstrated in 1747, but the vitamin itself was not discovered until 1932. Since then, scientists have learned an enormous amount about vitamin C, but they have not answered all the questions about it.

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