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Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, January 26, 2016

How Doctors Use Vitamin C Against Lead Poisoning

by Andrew W. Saul, Editor

(OMNS, Jan 26, 2016) We hear about the hazards of lead. We know that lead poisoning can cause severe mental retardation. Lead has been clearly linked with Alzheimer's disease. We have been told to avoid lead in our homes and in our water, and to clean up lead pollution of our environment. But we have not been told how to remove it from our bodies. Vitamin C megadoses may be the answer.

Dr. Erik Paterson, of British Columbia, reports:

"When I was a consulting physician for a center for the mentally challenged, a patient showing behavioral changes was found to have blood lead levels some ten times higher than the acceptable levels. I administered vitamin C at a dose of 4,000 mg/day. I anticipated a slow response. The following year I rechecked his blood lead level. It had gone up, much to my initial dismay. But then I thought that perhaps what was happening was that the vitamin C was mobilizing the lead from his tissues. So we persisted. The next year, on rechecking, the lead levels had markedly dropped to well below the initial result. As the years went by, the levels became almost undetectable, and his behavior was markedly improved."

How much vitamin C?

Frederick Robert Klenner, M.D., insisted that large amounts of vitamin C are needed to do the job. One old (1940) paper got it wrong, and Dr. Klenner comments:

"The report by Dannenberg that high doses of ascorbic acid were without effect in treating lead intoxication in a child must be ignored, since his extremely high dose was 25 mg by mouth four times a day and one single daily injection of 250 mg of C. Had he administered 350 mg/kg body weight every two hours, he would have seen the other side of the coin."

Here is what 350 milligrams of vitamin C per kilogram body weight works out to in pounds, approximately:

Milligrams Vitamin C Body Weight
35,000 mg 220 pounds
18,000 110 lb
9,000 55 lb
4,500 28 lb
2,300 14-15 lb
1,200 7-8 lb

Although these quantities may seem high, it must be pointed out that Dr. Klenner administered such amounts every two hours.

Vitamin C may be given intravenously if necessary. Oral vitamin C may be given as liquid, powder, tablet or chewable tablet. Toddlers often accept powdered, naturally sweetened chewable tablets, which may be crushed up between two spoons and added to a favorite food. Infants do well with liquid vitamin C. You can make this yourself by daily dissolving ascorbic acid powder in a small dropper bottle and adding it to fruit juice. Dr. Klenner recommended daily preventive doses, which he described as one thousand milligrams of C per year of a child's age, plateauing at 10,000 mg/day for teens and adults.

"Vitamin C? But . . ."

Common questions from readers are likely to include these, to which we have provided the briefest of answers.

"Why so much?" Because too little will not be effective. Dr. Klenner, as well as Robert F. Cathcart, M.D., Hugh D. Riordan, M.D., Abram Hoffer, M.D. and many other highly experienced nutritional physicians have all emphasized this.

"Is it safe?" Year after year, decade after decade, national data shows no deaths at all from vitamin C. Vitamin C does not cause kidney stones, either. Read up so you know what you are doing. Work with your doctor. And make sure your doctor has read what you've read.

"Is ascorbic acid really vitamin C?" Yes. Linus Pauling, double Nobel-prize winning chemist, said so. He ought to know. Almost all successful medical research on vitamin C therapy has used plain, cheap, you-can-buy-it-anywhere ascorbic acid. Other forms of C will also work well.

"That's it?" Certainly not. All sources of lead contamination must be addressed and eliminated. Vitamin C has an important role to play in so doing, and should be publicly advocated by the medical professions, government, and the media.


To learn more:

Dr. Klenner's quote is from "The Significance of High Daily Intake of Ascorbic Acid in Preventive Medicine," p. 51-59, Physician's Handbook on Orthomolecular Medicine, Third Edition, Roger Williams, PhD, ed.)

You can read Dr. Klenner's Clinical Guide to the Use of Vitamin C free of charge. It is posted in its entirety at and also at

Many free-access papers on vitamin C therapy are posted at

"Vitamin supplements help protect children from heavy metals, reduce behavioral disorders." Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, Oct 8, 2007.

All OMNS articles are archived here: Many discuss the most frequently asked questions about vitamin dosages, safety, forms, and proper administration.

Dannenberg's paper, mentioned by Klenner:
Only part appears to be free access. [Dannenburg, A.M., et al (1940) Ascorbic acid in the treatment of chronic lead poisoning. JAMA. 114: 1439-1440.]

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Editorial Review Board:

Ian Brighthope, M.D. (Australia)
Ralph K. Campbell, M.D. (USA)
Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D. (USA)
Damien Downing, M.D. (United Kingdom)
Michael Ellis, M.D. (Australia)
Martin P. Gallagher, M.D., D.C. (USA)
Michael Gonzalez, D.Sc., Ph.D. (Puerto Rico)
William B. Grant, Ph.D. (USA)
Michael Janson, M.D. (USA)
Robert E. Jenkins, D.C. (USA)
Bo H. Jonsson, M.D., Ph.D. (Sweden)
Peter H. Lauda, M.D. (Austria)
Thomas Levy, M.D., J.D. (USA)
Stuart Lindsey, Pharm.D. (USA)
Jorge R. Miranda-Massari, Pharm.D. (Puerto Rico)
Karin Munsterhjelm-Ahumada, M.D. (Finland)
Erik Paterson, M.D. (Canada)
W. Todd Penberthy, Ph.D. (USA)
Jeffrey A. Ruterbusch, D.O. (USA)
Gert E. Schuitemaker, Ph.D. (Netherlands)
Jagan Nathan Vamanan, M.D. (India)
Ken Walker, M.D. (Canada)
Atsuo Yanagisawa, M.D., Ph.D. (Japan)

Robert G. Smith, Ph.D. (USA), Assistant Editor
Helen Saul Case, M.S. (USA), Assistant Editor
Michael S. Stewart, B.Sc.C.S. (USA), Technology Editor

Andrew W. Saul, Ph.D. (USA), Editor and contact person. Email: This is a comments-only address; OMNS is unable to respond to individual reader emails. However, readers are encouraged to write in with their viewpoints. Reader comments become the property of OMNS and may or may not be used for publication.

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