This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.
After winning a Nobel Prize in chemistry — and yet another Nobel Prize for peace — Linus Pauling’s distinguished career took a decidedly undistinguished turn. He began promoting the idea that large doses of vitamin C could greatly reduce colds, cure cancer and improve overall health. To this day, people all over the world start popping vitamin C tablets when they get the sniffles, sadly to no effect. (One study demonstrated, however, that a daily dose of vitamin C could reduce the frequency of colds, but not the duration or severity.)
Yet, despite the general lack of credible scientific evidence to support the idea that people should take daily vitamin supplements, an entire industry has blossomed promoting just that. Unfortunately, the industry is wholeheartedly embraced by practioners of alternative medicine, pseudoscientific quacks who have enormous influence over people’s health choices. It is for these reasons that the scientific and medical communities are generally skeptical of (if not outright hostile to) new claims about the benefits of vitamin C or other supplements. Continue reading