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The real difference between ascorbic acid and natural vitamin C
Micronutrients

The real difference between ascorbic acid and natural vitamin C

24/09/2019
The real difference between ascorbic acid and natural vitamin C

Today, we will shine a light on Ascorbic Acid. Is it really harmful? 

A totally paradoxical question to many.

But even so, a stubborn opinion prevails in certain circles that Ascorbic Acid is a harmful, non-natural and inferior form of Vitamin C - the otherwise so powerful molecule from Acerola and the like.

So what is this substance and what should you keep in mind in order to stay healthy?

 

Point 1: Something "artificially" produced is not immediately harmful. 

 See the chemical formula below? Let me introduce you: this is ascorbic acid.

 Human bodies cannot produce it themselves, but they need it to survive. That's why we call it vitamin (C). If we don't get ascorbic acid from our food daily, we feel bad after a while. In our body, the molecule regulates metabolic reactions such as collagen synthesis, antioxidation or energy production.

 The synthesis of vitamin C varies depending on whether it takes place in the laboratory or in plants. BUT the molecule that is created is always the molecule below: Ascorbic acid. Vitamin C and ascorbic acid are 100% synonymous. Vitamin C in acerola also looks like this.

 2000px-L-Ascorbic_acid-svgRhMUddfqDn0LL

 

Here comes the crux of the matter: 

And the only difference. Vitamin C from natural sources is not the only molecule in fruits, it is not pure. Unlike vitamin C in most dietary supplements.

In acerola, there are many bioflavonoids, or polyphenols, which have an antioxidant effect. These are also good for us. Vitamin C from natural sources is part of a balanced complex of different molecules of the basic and secondary plant metabolism.

 It is, therefore, a matter of personal preference which vitamin C you choose. Both are healthy because both are the molecule that participates in essential reactions in our body and thus keeps us vital. It is the same key if the specific biochemical reaction it is needed for is the lock.

And since our body does not notice the difference between the molecules, no matter where they come from, ascorbic acid is certainly not harmful.

 This is always the case if you stick to the recommended daily dose of vitamin C. Up to 1000 mg of dietary supplements in addition to vitamin C from a balanced diet has no negative long-term effects or side effects. However, higher doses of concentrated vitamin C can cause side effects in the digestive system1.

 

Is there a difference in bioavailability for different sources of vitamin C? 

(e.g. pure ascorbic acid and vitamin C from fruits?)

A substance is considered particularly bioavailable when a large amount of it is able to reach the bloodstream.
Comparative studies - published in the renowned Journal of Nutrition - on healthy non-smokers showed no difference in the bioavailability of these vitamin C forms2.
Uptake of Vitamin C from the following sources was measured:

 

  • pure ascorbic acid in the form of tablets
  • Oranges
  • Orange juice
  • Raw and cooked broccoli

 

Only raw broccoli saw a 20% reduction in BA.

As soon as the vitamin reaches your cells, it makes doesn't make a difference where it originated.

Theoretically, in liposomes, it does not matter whether vitamin C additionally contains bioflavonoids (i.e. comes from fruits). Here the body concentrates on the absorption of the liposomes, not on the vitamin C inside them. 


Does vitamin C affect blood clotting?

Vitamin C supports normal blood vessels. It does this through its role as an antioxidant - but also indirectly by increasing the bioavailability of nitric oxide (NO). This substance, in turn, is essential for protective cardiovascular functions such as thrombosis inhibition3.

Conclusion: There is no direct influence on blood clotting, but vitamin C can improve the negative consequences of impaired blood clotting.

 

Can Vitamin C prevent Cardiovascular Diseases? 

In general, antioxidants - such as vitamin C - reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD)4.

However, research on this topic couldn't show a clear link between vitamin C and the prevention of CVD, as a literature review showed5.

 

A Few Myths About Vitamin C

Claim 1: "The synthesized form is not identical to the natural form. The "laboratory form" is incomplete. Ascorbic acid is not the complete vitamin".

 

Answer: Both are L-ascorbic acid. This is a weak organic acid consisting mainly of carbon. The L stands for its specific 3D structure. The synthesis process in nature is carried out by enzymes, whereas the synthesis in industry is mostly not. One of the reaction steps here, however, is carried out by yeast fermentation, which is as natural reaction by enzymes. Just like its equivalent in pants. The resulting structure is the same.

 Some research reports show that ascorbic acid-containing extracts (e.g. citrus extract) are better absorbed because of their additional molecules6. However, this observation is not confirmed by all publications. Liposomes also compensate for this and even pure ascorbic acid can overcome possible absorption disadvantages.

 

Claim 2: "Highly concentrated ascorbic acid can cause a harmful imbalance in the body."

 Answer: This cannot happen if you follow the recommended daily dose for vitamin C. Up to 1000 mg from dietary supplements, in addition to vitamin C from a balanced diet shows no negative long-term effects or side effects. However, higher doses of concentrated vitamin C can cause side effects in the digestive system1.

 

Bottom line

It is a matter of taste whether you want to take pure vitamin C or vitamin C from natural sources.

 You can either choose to take in additional beneficial biomolecules, but a lower concentrated amount of vitamin C.

 Or you can choose the pure substance. Encapsulated in liposomes, the substance arrives in any case! In addition, some side effects of the high dosage can be prevented.

 

 

[1] https://www.dge.de/index.php?id=354

[2] Mangels AR, Block G, Frey CM, Patterson BH, Taylor PR, Norkus EP, et al. The bioavailability to humans of ascorbic acid from oranges, orange juice and cooked broccoli is similar to that of synthetic ascorbic acid. J Nutr 1993;123:1054-61.
[3] https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Matthias_Barton/publication/237675882_Curriculum_Atherosklerotische_Gefasserkrankungen_und_Stickstoffmonoxid_NO_Die_wachsende_Bedeutung_von_hoher_Lebenserwartung_und_Ubergewicht_fur_die_Klinik/links/0c96052c551468edcc000000/Curriculum-Atherosklerotische-Gefaesserkrankungen-und-Stickstoffmonoxid-NO-Die-wachsende-Bedeutung-von-hoher-Lebenserwartung-und-Uebergewicht-fuer-die-Klinik.pdf
[4] https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-HealthProfessional/#h3
[5] Shekelle P, Morton S, Hardy M. Effect of supplemental antioxidants vitamin C, vitamin E, and coenzyme Q10 for the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease. Evidence Report/Technology Assessment No. 83 AHRQ Publication No. 03-E043. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 2003. 

[6] https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article-abstract/48/3/601/4716518  

X Katharina Hoffmann

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