Linus Pauling was introduced to the subject of vitamin C by biochemist Irwin Stone in 1966. Five years later, he would pen “Vitamin C and the Common Cold,” and then boldly go on to champion vitamin C as a fighter of more serious diseases such as cancer.
According to Pauling, the vitamin’s versatility in illness prevention arises from its role in the manufacture of collagen, the protein that gives shape to connective tissues and strength to skin and blood vessels.
Pauling discusses vitamin C’s connection with lipoprotein-a, a substance whose levels in the blood have been linked to cardiovascular disease. Lipoprotein-a is also a major component of the plaques found in the blood vessels of atherosclerosis patients.
He has published studies asserting that lipoprotein-a is a surrogate for vitamin C, serving to strengthen blood vessel walls in the absence of adequate amounts of the vitamin in the diet.
Pauling is convinced that doses of vitamin C can help prevent the onset of cardiovascular disease, inhibiting the formation of disease-promoting lesions on blood vessel walls and perhaps decreasing the production of lipoprotein-a in the blood. Vitamin C’s link to healthy blood vessels, Pauling said, is further supported by studies of scurvy, the disease caused by vitamin C deficiency. Fifty percent of patients who die of scurvy, he said, do so because of ruptured blood vessels.
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