Bias against Vitamin C in Mainstream Medicine: Examples from Trials of Vitamin C for Infections

Life (Basel). 2022 Jan 3;12(1):62. doi: 10.3390/life12010062.


Evidence has shown unambiguously that, in certain contexts, vitamin C is effective against the common cold. However, in mainstream medicine, the views on vitamin C and infections have been determined by eminence-based medicine rather than evidence-based medicine. The rejection of the demonstrated benefits of vitamin C is largely explained by three papers published in 1975-two published in JAMA and one in the American Journal of Medicine-all of which have been standard citations in textbooks of medicine and nutrition and in nutritional recommendations. Two of the papers were authored by Thomas Chalmers, an influential expert in clinical trials, and the third was authored by Paul Meier, a famous medical statistician. In this paper, we summarize several flaws in the three papers. In addition, we describe problems with two recent randomized trial reports published in JAMA which were presented in a way that misled readers. We also discuss shortcomings in three recent JAMA editorials on vitamin C. While most of our examples are from JAMA, it is not the only journal with apparent bias against vitamin C, but it illustrates the general views in mainstream medicine. We also consider potential explanations for the widespread bias against vitamin C.

Keywords: attitude of health personnel; common cold; dietary supplements; evidence-based medicine; health care quality, access and evaluation; health knowledge, attitudes and practice; meta-analysis; micronutrients; quackery; respiratory tract infections.

Publication types

  • Review