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We Bet You Didn't Know THIS About Vitamin C

January 19, 2017

We Bet You Didn't Know THIS About Vitamin C

Anyone that knows me knows the high standards I have when it comes to supplements. I know how labels can fool the public, I understand how the body works, and therefore I know what to look for. I also know the importance of getting whole food vitamins and staying away from synthetic supplements as much as possible.

Today I want to focus on why you want to select REAL Vitamin C over Ascorbic Acid as your "Vitamin C" supplement. 

Vitamin C is best known for its use in handling the common cold and general immune system deficiencies. It is also important for proper tissue repair, collagen production, adrenal gland (these are the glands you use when stressed out and when your body has inflammation) function, and for lactation.

If you've ever taken vitamins such as Emergen-C, multi-vitamins, etc., you'll notice that in the nutrition label, it lists "Vitamin C (as Ascorbic Acid)". That is your indicator to know that the Vitamin C in that supplement is synthetic. You can look in the "other ingredients" section to see if there are any other whole foods included in the supplement that might be a real source of Vitamin C, but in most cases, you won't find anything additional. Here's an example of how the label is written in synthetic Vitamin C: 

 

Vitamin C and Ascorbic acid are not the same thing. Ascorbic acid is what you will find in most vitamin supplements and it "passes" as Vitamin C for labeling purposes. It is an isolate (just a portion of true Vitamin C) and it is most often created synthetically in a lab. However, your body was build in a very specific way, and it functions best when given whole food items. 

The truth is simple. In real foods, Vitamin C exists with other factors that allow it to absorb properly into the body. One example of this is Vitamin P (aka bioflavonoids) which is found in the white peel of citrus fruits. When you eat an orange or a grapefruit, you get all the compounds naturally occurring together that are used up by the body to keep it in proper balance. When you just make orange juice, not only are you consuming a lot of sugar all at once (which is not good for the body) but you are missing the wonderful cofactors such as Vitamin P. When you have the natural version with everything together, you don't need mega doses of "Vitamin C" such as that in Emergen-C and other synthetic supplements because your body uses up the Vitamin C much more easily when it comes together with all its co-factors, making it so that you need a much lower therapeutic dose.

Let's think through this, you won't find a whole gram (1000mg) of Ascorbic acid in anything in nature so why are you consuming that much all at once? The other thing that happens when you consume such high doses is that it offsets the balance of other vitamins in the body. The best idea is to give your body the nutrients it needs in the most balanced form, which tends to come from real foods and whole food supplements derived from well treated soil and animals. 

Functional knowledge on Vitamin C:

  • Vitamin C works best in its natural and whole form including the while part of the peel (which has Vitamin P).
  • Vitamin C is destroyed by heat
  • If you take aspirin, oral contraceptives or drink alcohol, it is more common to see a lower levels of Vitamin C levels in the body 
  • Megadoses of Ascorbic Acid (synthetic or isolated form of Vitamin C) offsets the balance of other vitamins in the body. 

In general, its best to eat a variety of whole foods to keep the Vitamin C levels up in the body and supplement with whole food supplements when you need Vitamin C rather than megadosing with synthetic Vitamin C (aka ascorbic acid).

Some whole food sources of Vitamin C:

  • Bell Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Grapefruit
  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Papaya
  • Oranges
  • Jalapeños
  • Kiwi Fruit
  • Berries
  • Winter Squash

Some whole food supplements of Vitamin C:

  • Standard Process Cataplex C, Cataplex A-C.
  • Premier Research Labs Vitamin C
  • Health Force Nutritionals Vitamin C

 

Be Well,

Mariela Villaverde, L.Ac.,MAOM,ACN