Here comes cold and flu season they say and it’s time to stock up on vitamin C to bolster your immune system and keep illness at bay.
And if you go to the local drug store or even health food store the shelves are lined with all types of brands of vitamin C. When you look at the labels on almost all of those brands you are going to see a ingredient: “Ascorbic Acid” as the source of vitamin C.
As is the case with many topics in health and nutrition, whether ascorbic acid is actually vitamin C or not is an ongoing debate. Please keep an open mind as we look at this topic. It’s important because it’s just possible that the public is getting duped. Each year in the fall people run out and buy copious amounts of vitamin C supplements thinking this will help protect them from getting sick or if they do get sick, they will kick it faster. But what if that’s a myth?
What are the benefits of vitamin C?
- Repair and maintain teeth and bones
- Slow and prevent cell damage
- Maintain healthy body tissues
- Boosts immune system
- Helps absorb iron from plant foods
- Decreases severity and duration of colds
- Fights free radical damage
- Builds collagen needed to bind bones, joints, tendons, and ligaments together
- Builds and maintains blood vessels
So make note: taking vitamin C doesn’t mean you won’t ever get sick. But it does stand to reason that you might get sick less or for shorter periods of time.
What I propose is that vitamin C can actually help in this manner, however, the “vitamin C” on the market regularly is not actually helpful. Ascorbic Acid is NOT vitamin C it turns out.
Most sources equate vitamin C with ascorbic acid, as though they were the same thing. They’re not. Ascorbic acid is an isolate, a fraction, a distillate of naturally occurring vitamin C. In addition to ascorbic acid, vitamin C must include rutin, bioflavonoids, Factor K, Factor J, Factor P, Tyrosinase, Ascorbinogen, and other components
So if this is the case then how can Ascorbic Acid be called vitamin C and be put into bottles for scores and scores of people to buy?
In addition, mineral co-factors must be available in proper amounts in order to have vitamin activity.
If any of these parts are missing, there is no vitamin C, no vitamin activity. When some of them are present, the body will draw on its own stores to try and make up the differences, so that the whole vitamin may be present. Only then will vitamin activity take place, provided that all other conditions and co-factors are present.
Ascorbic acid is described merely as the “antioxidant wrapper” portion of vitamin C; ascorbic acid protects the functional parts of the vitamin from rapid oxidation or breakdown. ( Somer p 58 “Vitamin C: A Lesson in Keeping An Open Mind” The Nutrition Report)
For decades, over 90% of ascorbic acid in this country was manufactured at a facility in Nutley, New Jersey, owned by Hoffman-LaRoche, one of the world’s biggest drug manufacturers (1 800 526 0189). Here ascorbic acid is made from a process involving cornstarch and volatile acids. abels, its own claims, and its own formulations, each one claiming to have the superior form of vitamin C, even though it all came from the same place, and it’s really not vitamin C at all.
FRACTIONATED = SYNTHETIC = CRYSTALLINE = FAKE
The word synthetic means two things:
– occurs nowhere in nature
From the outset, it is crucial to understand the difference between vitamins and vitamin activity. The vitamin is the biochemical complex. Vitamin activity means the actual biological and cellular changes that take place when the stage is set for the vitamin complex to act.
Think of it like gas and a car. Pumping the gas into the tank doesn’t necessarily mean the car is going anywhere. Other conditions and factors must be also present, in order for Activity to occur. The gas line to the carburetor must be clear, the carburetor jets must be set, there must be an exact mixture of air flow, the ignition must be turned on, the spark plugs must be clean, the exact amount of gas must reach each spark plug right before it fires, no gas must be left over in the cylinder after the plug fires, etc. Getting the idea? If any of this stuff is missing, there’s no Activity: the car doesn’t run, or at least not very well.
Amazing as it may sound if you’re hearing this for the first time, vitamins are more than the synthetic fractions we are commonly taught they are. The ascorbic acid you buy at the grocery store every few weeks, thinking you are buying Vitamin C, is just a chemical copy of naturally occurring ascorbic acid, which itself is still only a fraction of the actual Vitamin C.
SHOCKING! RIGHT? Not really. If you read the entire article you will find this is common and of course that doesn’t make it any less infuriating. And I urge you to! The more you know about what you are putting into your body the better. Vitamins are crucial to our health. But fake ones not so much. This article was the most comprehensive I’ve found while also being easy to understand:
Let me add: I believe supplementing our diet is crucial today. I don’t believe you can’t get all you need from just our food supply alone. But I also don’t want to waste money and time on fake vitamins. Knowledge is power. Starting with vitamin C seems like a great place to start!
Looking for a good brand / source of vitamin C you can trust? Click here to learn more of a whole food based option that we at Your Healthy Hustle love.