For Dosage see:


P R Health Sci J. 2008 Mar;27(1):7-19.

Pharmacokinetics of vitamin C: insights into the oral and intravenous administration of ascorbate.

Duconge J, Miranda-Massari JR, Gonzalez MJ, Jackson JA, Warnock W, Riordan NH.


Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Suite 413C, School of Pharmacy, Medical Sciences Campus, University of Puerto Rico, PO Box 365067, San Juan, PR 00936-5067.


There is a strong advocacy movement for large doses of vitamin C. Some authors argue that the biological half-life for vitamin C at high plasma levels is about 30 minutes, but these reports are the subject of some controversy. NIH researchers established the current RDA based upon tests conducted 12 hours (24 half lives) after consumption. The dynamic flow model refutes the current low-dose recommendations for dietary intakes and links Pauling's mega-dose suggestions with other reported effects of massive doses of ascorbate for the treatment of disease. Although, a couple of controlled clinical studies conducted at The Mayo Clinic did not support a significant benefit for terminal cancer patients after 10 grams of once-a-day oral vitamin C, other clinical trials have demonstrated that ascorbate may indeed be effective against tumors when administered intravenously. Recent studies confirmed that plasma vitamin C concentrations vary substantially with the route of administration. Only by intravenous administration, the necessary ascorbate levels to kill cancer cells are reached in both plasma and urine. Because the efficacy of vitamin C treatment cannot be judged from clinical trials that use only oral dosing, the role of vitamin C in cancer treatment should be reevaluated. One limitation of current studies is that pharmacokinetic data at high intravenous doses of vitamin C are sparse, particularly in cancer patients. This fact needs prompt attention to understand the significance of intravenous vitamin C administration. This review describes the current state-of-the-art in oral and intravenous vitamin C pharmacokinetics. In addition, the governmental recommendations of dose and frequency of vitamin C intake will also be addressed.

PMID: 18450228

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005 Sep 20;102(38):13604-9. Epub 2005 Sep 12.

Pharmacologic ascorbic acid concentrations selectively kill cancer cells: action as a pro-drug to deliver hydrogen peroxide to tissues.

Chen Q, Espey MG, Krishna MC, Mitchell JB, Corpe CP, Buettner GR, Shacter E, Levine M.


Molecular and Clinical Nutrition Section, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


Human pharmacokinetics data indicate that i.v. ascorbic acid (ascorbate) in pharmacologic concentrations could have an unanticipated role in cancer treatment. Our goals here were to test whether ascorbate killed cancer cells selectively, and if so, to determine mechanisms, using clinically relevant conditions. Cell death in 10 cancer and 4 normal cell types was measured by using 1-h exposures. Normal cells were unaffected by 20 mM ascorbate, whereas 5 cancer lines had EC(50) values of <4 mM, a concentration easily achievable i.v. Human lymphoma cells were studied in detail because of their sensitivity to ascorbate (EC(50) of 0.5 mM) and suitability for addressing mechanisms. Extracellular but not intracellular ascorbate mediated cell death, which occurred by apoptosis and pyknosis/necrosis. Cell death was independent of metal chelators and absolutely dependent on H(2)O(2) formation. Cell death from H(2)O(2) added to cells was identical to that found when H(2)O(2) was generated by ascorbate treatment. H(2)O(2) generation was dependent on ascorbate concentration, incubation time, and the presence of 0.5-10% serum, and displayed a linear relationship with ascorbate radical formation. Although ascorbate addition to medium generated H(2)O(2), ascorbate addition to blood generated no detectable H(2)O(2) and only trace detectable ascorbate radical. Taken together, these data indicate that ascorbate at concentrations achieved only by i.v. administration may be a pro-drug for formation of H(2)O(2), and that blood can be a delivery system of the pro-drug to tissues. These findings give plausibility to i.v. ascorbic acid in cancer treatment, and have unexpected implications for treatment of infections where H(2)O(2) may be beneficial.

PMID: 16157892

PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

PMCID: PMC1224653



J Transl Med. 2008 Sep 12;6:50.

Anti-angiogenic effect of high doses of ascorbic acid.

Mikirova NA, Ichim TE, Riordan NH.


Bio-Communications Research Institute, Wichita, Kansas, USA.


Pharmaceutical doses of ascorbic acid (AA, vitamin C, or its salts) have been reported to exert anticancer activity in vitro and in vivo. One proposed mechanism involves direct cytotoxicity mediated by accumulation of ascorbic acid radicals and hydrogen peroxide in the extracellular environment of tumor cells. However, therapeutic effects have been reported at concentrations insufficient to induce direct tumor cell death. We hypothesized that AA may exert anti-angiogenic effects. To test this, we expanded endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) from peripheral blood and assessed, whether or not high dose AA would inhibit EPC ability to migrate, change energy metabolism, and tube formation ability. We also evaluated the effects of high dose AA on angiogenic activities of HUVECs (human umbilical vein endothelial cells) and HUAECs (human umbilical arterial endothelial cells). According to our data, concentrations of AA higher than 100 mg/dl suppressed capillary-like tube formation on Matrigel for all cells tested and the effect was more pronounced for progenitor cells in comparison with mature cells. Co-culture of differentiated endothelial cells with progenitor cells showed that there was incorporation of EPCs in vessels formed by HUVECs and HUAECs. Cell migration was assessed using an in vitro wound healing model. The results of these experiments showed an inverse correlation between AA concentrations relative to both cell migration and gap filling capacity. Suppression of NO (nitric oxide) generation appeared to be one of the mechanisms by which AA mediated angiostatic effects. This study supports further investigation into non-cytotoxic antitumor activities of AA.

PMID: 18789157

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

PMCID: PMC2562367

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