In the great debate over vitamin C, Pauling held the trump card: as a rule, what the human body is trying to absorb is approximately what it needs, which is approximately what we should aim for. In a well-nourished and healthy body, the rule is even stronger.
Holding the trump card, Pauling should have won.
He lost because of one small error: he assumed that the function that required grams of vitamin C, the amount the body tries to absorb every day (and many more grams when it is sick), is the greatest and grandest function.
Evolutionary demands have made it just the opposite, although the benefits of grams of C are not trivial because the body is investing resources to absorb grams, the benefits from grams are much less than the benefits of 10 mg vs 0, and less than 100 mg vs 10 mg.
Ironically, the benefits of grams relate to potentially fewer colds and flus, fewer UTIs, and fewer problems with kidney stones, but grams do not in fact prevent any of these:
- Grams per day of vitamin C does make for a more soluble urine stream
- With grams per day of vitamin C, mucus is thinned and flows out of the body more readily, carrying germs and pollutants with it.
- Both of these things are good, but there is no prevention of colds, flus, atherosclerosis, or cancer from grams of vitamin C.
- There are other good things, but alas they are also not monumentally important.
- Re: prevention. Example: there are so many things promoting UTI that high dose vitamin C by itself cannot prevent it. Same for kidney stones, colds, flus, atherosclerosis, and you-name-it.