Vitamin C (ascorbic Acid) Supplements, Available Forms and Principal Uses

You can find Vitamin C in a number of different forms crystals, powders, capsules, tablets, timed-released tablets, etcetera. The actual vitamin C in these different forms varies. Ascorbic acid is the most widely used and least expensive form. Buffered vitamin C refers to the use of sodium, magnesium, calcium, or potassium ascorbate. Buffered vitamin C is used primarily because sometimes the acid content of non buffered ascorbic acid bothers some people’s stomachs. The only real concern with buffered vitamin C products is that sodium ascorbate may be a problem for people who are sodium sensitive. The same is true for “corn-free” vitamin C. Most commercially available vitamin C is derived from corn. In people who are sensitive to corn, vitamin C derived from another commercially available source, the sago palm, is recommended.

Recently a “new form” of vitamin C called Ester-C has entered the marketplace. Its manufacturers claim that this form is composed of esters (a chain of repeating units) of vitamin C and is absorbed and utilized by the body. However, absorption studies do not indicate that the body absorbs it better. Furthermore, to justify the fact that Ester-C is three times more expensive than regular forms of C, Ester-C should be three times better. The research simply does not support this to be the case. In one study at the Foods and Nutrition Laboratory at Arizona State University, the absorption of Ester-C and regular ascorbic acid did not differ significantly (although blood levels were higher with regular vitamin C).

Taking vitamin C with bioflavonoids may offer benefits in absorption, but only if the product contains bioflavonoids at a meaningful level. When the amount of citrus bioflavonoids is just window dressing, there is no real increase in absorption. However, if the level of bioflavonoids is equal to or greater than the level of vitamin C, then absorption is enhanced.11-12 In general, the best form of vitamin C for most people is simple ascorbic acid. It is by far the most economical form, and there is substantial data on its effectiveness.

Numerous experimental, clinical, and population studies show that vitamin C intake benefits the body in numerous ways, including: reducing cancer rates, boosting immunity, protecting against pollution and cigarette smoke, enhancing wound repair, increasing life expectancy, and reducing the risk for cataracts. Research indicates Vitamin C is useful in many health conditions as a result of its antioxidant and immune-enhancing properties. Because of space constraints, I am focusing my discussion on only a few health conditions because supplemental vitamin C, in my opinion, is an important part of any nutritional supplement program. Some of the major conditions where vitamin C is of value:

*Auto-immune disorders
*Capillary fragility
*Cervical dysplasia
*Crohn’s disease
*Common cold
*Coronary artery disease
*Gallbladder disease
*Herpes simplex
*Herpes zoster
*High blood pressure
*Macular degeneration
*Mitral valve prolapse
*Multiple sclerosis
*Parkinson’s disease
*Periodontal disease
*Peptic ulcers
*Peripheral vascular disease
*Rheumatoid arthritis
*Skin ulcers
*Sports injuries
*Wound healing

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