Vitamin C

Vitamin C is the most well-known and most commonly consumed vitamin in the world. It is arguably the most important nutrient with its broad functions in the body. But few consumers know much about vitamin C. This article will not focus on why vitamin C is important, (there are many resources that describe the health benefits of vitamin C). It will focus on the different forms of vitamin C and the pro’s and con’s of each type and more importantly, how to choose one.

There is no “best” vitamin C. There are many different types and all are beneficial. The “best” one is the one that works best for you. There are several questions you can ask yourself and your answers will help you pick the right product. The more you understand about the many available choices the more likely you are to pinpoint the best products for you.

Different forms of vitamin C
This is where many people get confused and the balance of this article will describe the different forms of vitamin C and how these differences affect you. We’ll start with the most simple forms and progress through the various types and their distinctions.

Ascorbic Acid
Ascorbic acid is the vitamin C that most people are familiar with. Ascorbic acid is the most common form of vitamin C and is the least expensive.

There are several concerns regarding ascorbic acid.

First, it is very acidic. People who are bothered by acids may not tolerate ascorbic acid. If you are bothered by acids see the section below on mineral ascorbates.

Secondly, ascorbic acid has no beneficial co-factors. These co-factors are the bioflavonoids that improve the utilization of vitamin C and have distinct benefits on their own. This is why you should include bioflavonoids in your vitamin C. Additional beneficial nutrients to look for include hesperidin and rutin.

Third, higher doses of ascorbic acid (10 grams) can lower urine pH and may cause some to experience digestive discomfort. This is especially important if you are actively attempting to become less acid. In this case you should select neutral pH mineral ascorbates.

Mineral Ascorbates
Mineral ascorbate are ascorbic acid that are reacted with alkaline minerals such as calcium, potassium, magnesium sodium, zinc etc. 99% of all animals produce four enzymes that convert blood glucose into ascorbic acid.. This ascorbic acid immediately reacts with liver minerals to form potassium ascorbate, magnesium ascorbate and other mineral ascorbates. These mineral ascorbates are readily accepted into the cells and act as very effective mineral and ascorbate transporters. Humans lack this ability to form vitamin C and must consume vitamin C in the diet or risk becoming vitamin C deficient.

Mineral ascorbates as a dietary supplement have a neutral pH and are non acidic. Ascorbic Acid is acid and the previously mentioned minerals are alkaline. When they react they form non-acidic, neutral pH mineral ascorbates.
Ascorbates should not be confused with bioflavonoids, so you will usually want to include bioflavonoids in your formula.

Ester-C is a patented form of calcium ascorbate. Ester-C is available in many different products from many different manufacturers. Other non-patented forms of calcium ascorbate might be called Buffered Vitamin C, or Non-Acidic Vitamin C or just calcium ascorbate but they are all no acid neutral pH vitamin C. They may or may not included bioflavonoids so be sure to check the label.

There are other less common mineral ascorbate formulas that will include multiple mineral ascorbates including magnesium, potassium, sodium, zinc and chromium. The most well known form of multi-mineral ascorbates is Emer’gen-C by Alacer.

Ascorbyl palmitate
Ascorbyl palmitate is a fat-soluble vitamin C prepared from ascorbic acid with palmitic acid. Since this form of vitamin C is fat-soluble it is stored in the lipid cell membrane until the body is ready to put it to use, therefore extending its availability to the cells unlike the water-soluble form.

Ascorbyl palmitate is used as a nutritional supplement and claimed to be a superior delivery form of vitamin C. Since ascorbyl palmitate is a fat-soluble derivative of ascorbic acid, it can concentrate into the lipid tissues and protect cell membranes and low-density lipoproteins (LDL) against oxidation.

Ascorbyl palmitate is recommended as a preferred form of vitamin C for anti-aging (more about). Its fat-soluble nature exerts an antioxidant effects on fatty tissues including the skin. It is used in cosmetics because it penetrates more deeply into the skin and exerts its effects for a longer time than water-soluble vitamin C. By enhancing the cell’s ability to function more effectively, cells are better able to repair any damage and generally “act” in a younger manner.

Health Status
Do you have any health concerns that could impact your choice? For any medical concerns please consult with the appropriate resources. There are many resources that can give advice on recommend doses for different conditions.

The most common dosage of vitamin C as a preventative is 500 to 2000 milligrams per day. Therapeutic doses can range from 2 to 10 grams per day. Higher doses of ascorbic acid can cause digestive complaints. If this happens, simply back the dosage down or consider a non-acidic form of vitamin C.

When cost is important at least buy a vitamin C that has additional bioflavonoids. Better forms of vitamin C will be more expensive but will usually offer greater benefit.

Last Word
Vitamin C is one of the most important nutrients. Make sure you get yours. Try different formulations and you’ll find the one that works best for you. Consistency over time with vitamin C will provide the benefits that will help you stay healthier (learn how)  and heal faster.