Low Vitamin C Impairs Early Brain Development

Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist

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Low Vitamin C Impairs Early Brain Development
Researchers have found that low vitamin C in early life results in 30 per cent less hippocampal neurons and markedly worse spatial memory (animal study1). The researchers demonstrated the vital importance of proper vitamin C levels, showing that even a slight lack can cause significant brain development problems.

“We may thus be witnessing that children get learning disabilities because they have not gotten enough vitamin C in their early life. This is unbearable when it would be so easy to prevent this deficiency by giving a vitamin supplement to high-risk pregnant women and new mothers,” says Jens Lykkesfeldt, study author.

This finding is consistent with an earlier study showing that the lack of vitamin C during development resulted in impaired mental capacity leading to schizophrenia2.

Vitamin C is a key player in the antioxidant defense system, working synergistically with vitamin E to prop of cellular glutathione, a brain cell's primary antioxidant defense system. On the other side of the coin are excitotoxic irritants that damage brain cells. If such damage occurs while the brain is in a high phases of development then the results can be serious and long-lasting.

Leptin-resistance during pregnancy, which means the mother was overweight going into pregnancy and often gains extra weight during pregnancy, is indicative of a mother likely to have excess levels of brain-related excitotoxic stress. Some symptoms of this would be high blood pressure, high blood sugar, or toxemia during pregnancy. Leptin is a primary brain antioxidant and if leptin does not get into the infant's brain while in the womb, the evolving nervous system would be exposed to higher levels of excitotoxic stress, aggravated if vitamin C is lacking.

Likewise, stress in general will not only increase excitotoxic stress on the evolving nerves, it will simultaneously deplete vitamin C.

Since overweight and stressed pregnant moms are common in today's world, it would be prudent for all pregnant and nursing mothers to take an extra 1000 mg of vitamin C per day and higher levels if fatigued or extra stressed out.

Vitamin C is of course vital to immune system function and with a flu that is problematic for pregnant women, mothers who were just pregnant, and small children, another reason this age group should be on the high side of vitamin C is to help have a healthier immune system.

It took our vitamin-hating government 10 years to recommend folic acid during pregnancy, and that took a congressional threat of hauling FDA executives before Congress to have them explain to mothers of children with neural tube defects why they wouldn't recommend folic acid.


Now is the time the FDA and our federal government should be telling all pregnant and nursing mothers to take not only extra vitamin C, but extra zinc and vitamin D. This would be a low-cost and profound benefit to the public health. The obsession with experimental vaccines of unknown value and unknown toxicity, while simultaneously being silent on proven natural needs of the immune system to combat flu, is simply inexcusable.

Referenced Studies

  1. ^ Low Vitamin C Adversely Influences Cognitive Development  Am J Clin Nutr   Pernille Tveden-Nyborg, Louise Kruse Johansen, Zindy Raida, Charlotte Krogh Villumsen, Jytte Overgaard Larsen, and Jens Lykkesfeldt
  2. ^ Low Brain Vitamin C and Schizophrenia.  Neurobiol Dis.  Castagné V, Rougemont M, Cuenod M, Do KQ.

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