Irwin Stone

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Irwin Stone
NationalityUnited States
Alma materCollege of the City of New York
Scientific career
Fieldsbiochemistry, chemical engineering
InstitutionsPease Laboratories 1924-1934,
Wallerstein Company 1934- 1971

Irwin Stone (1907–1984) was an American biochemist, chemical engineer, and writer. He was the first to use ascorbic acid in the food processing industry as a preservative, and originated and published the hypothesis that humans require much larger amounts of Vitamin C for optimal health than is necessary to prevent scurvy.

Food preservative work[edit]

In 1934, Stone, while director of the enzyme and fermentation research laboratory for the Wallerstein Company, worked on the antioxidant properties of ascorbate (also known as Vitamin C), which had then recently been described by Albert Szent-Györgyi only two years earlier. He was awarded 26 patents in industrial chemistry, mainly related to fermentation science, pharmaceutical techniques, and nutrient cultivation.[1]

He discovered he could use ascorbate to keep foodstuffs fresh for longer, limiting the effects of exposure to air and oxidation. Stone obtained the first patents on an industrial application of ascorbic acid with three patent applications filed in 1935 and granted in 1939 and 1940.[2]

Hypoascorbemia hypothesis[edit]

Stone's research in ascorbic acid continued and led to his interest in the disease, scurvy. By the late 1950s, Stone had formulated his hypothesis that scurvy was not a dietary disturbance, but potentially a flaw in human genetics that had suppressed an essential part of the mammalian biochemistry and had been misunderstood by nutritionists. He proposed the name hypoascorbemia for the effects of this genetic defect. He proposed that ascorbate was not a vitamin required only in trace amounts, but was required by humans in relatively large daily quantities. He produced four papers, between 1965 and 1967, describing what he considered the true human requirement for ascorbate.[3]

Stone experienced great difficulty in getting his ideas published. However, following his retirement from his position as chemist from the Wallerstein company in 1971, he worked full-time on studying ascorbate. In 1972 he published the book, The Healing Factor.

Irwin Stone introduced Linus Pauling to Vitamin C and is recognised within orthomolecular medicine as one of its founders.[4]

Both Linus Pauling and Albert Szent-Györgyi wrote forewords to The Healing Factor endorsing his ideas.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Nutrition Today v. 20 (January/February 1985) p. 30.
  2. ^ Dr. Irwin Stone- A Tribute Allan Cott, M.D, given at the symposium of the Academy of Orthomolecular Psychiatry just after Dr. Stone's death. From Orthomolecular Psychiatry, 1984, Volume ??, Number ?, p. 150
  3. ^ A History of Medicine By Lois N. Magner, (1992) CRC Press. On page 238 in a chapter on vitamins, gives Stone a key role in their recent popularity and backs up the claims that he was behind the "humans have a genetic lack..." theory.
  4. ^ Orthomolecular Medicine Hall of fame - Irwin Stone, Ph.D. Retrieved October 2007
  5. ^ Forewords by Linus Pauling and Albert Szent-Györgyi to Irwin Stone's* The Healing Factor Archived 2007-12-03 at the Wayback Machine published 1972

See also[edit]