The Most Important Vitamin?
Vitamin C is one of the most essential vitamins. According to the University of Maryland, evidence suggests that many Americans are deficient in this crucial vitamin. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin. That is, your body needs to ingest vitamin C or foods with vitamin C on a daily basis in order to maintain necessary supplies. Vitamin C is excreted daily and is needed for a variety of vital body functions. Some ways Vitamin C supports your body:
- Maintaining healthy body tissues
- Boosting immune system
- Repairing and maintaining teeth and bones
- Slowing and preventing cell damage
- Building and maintaining blood vessels
- Helping to absorb iron from plant foods
- Decreasing severity and duration of colds
- Fighting free radical damage
- Building collagen needed to bind bones, joints, tendons, and ligaments together
Vitamin C Says Goodbye
Of course, an excellent way to get the natural form of vitamin C instead of ascorbic acid is to eat mostly raw fruits and veggies. However, vitamin C is water soluble, which basically means that it says goodbye to your body after just a few hours. So unless you are eating these foods multiple times per day, you can see why many say it is best to also use whole-food vitamin C supplements.
Also, because of the busy lifestyles and the standard American diet of most people, getting the proper amount of vitamin C nutrition can be difficult. The answer? Concentrated whole-food supplements, of course!
Are Ascorbic Acid and Vitamin C Identical?
Despite popular belief, they are not structurally identical. Ascorbic acid does not grow on trees or plants. It cannot be grown on a farm. It is produced in a laboratory and is an artificially reduced form of the natural vitamin C. One analogy to help you understand this is to compare vitamin C with an egg; ascorbic acid would be just the egg shell with nothing inside.
The FDA has permitted ascorbic acid to be identified as vitamin C. This is why beverages, foods, and supplements which are fortified with ascorbic acid can say they contain this vitamin. Technically they do contain it since, according to the FDA, they’re allowed to call it that.
Why is Ascorbic Acid Used Instead of Natural Vitamin C?
The C vitamin is a naturally occurring nutrient found in countless fruits and vegetables. However, the problem is that when it is heated, the vitamin breaks down and becomes useless. So if you heat up your food, it’s gone. This really poses a problem when it comes to liquids like orange juice. Pasteurization (boiling to kill off bacteria) is required for virtually every beverage sold today in the United States.
Ascorbic acid was invented as a synthetic version to replace the natural form which is destroyed by heat. So when you drink that glass of orange juice in the morning, you aren’t actually consuming natural vitamin C. Rather, you are consuming synthetic ascorbic acid which was added to replace the original.
The Nobel Prize Winner, Dr. Albert Szent-Györgyi
Dr. Albert, who discovered vitamin C, reportedly said that ascorbic acid simply cannot confer vitamin activity. Unfortunately, almost every supplement sold today only contains these fractional reproductions and not the natural whole-food form. Fortunately, Real C is available as a healthy alternative.
Does Citric Acid Contain Vitamin C?
Citric acid and vitamin C both occur naturally in citrus fruits, but there is no vitamin C in citric acid. They are not the same thing. Citric acid is responsible for the tart and sour taste of lemons and, to a lesser extent, other citrus fruits and some berries. It is used as a flavoring in many preparations of vitamin C supplements.
Both ascorbic acid and citric acid are used extensively as food additives because they are very cheap to manufacture artificially. Citric acid is used in fruit-flavored candy, soft drinks, ice cream, and many other products.
Citric acid is manufactured artificially through the use of Aspergillus niger, a mold that feeds on cheap corn syrup glucose. It is important to remember that if you see “citric acid” as an ingredient in a supplement, most likely it was produced artificially and therefore did not come from citrus fruit at all. Even if it did, it would be “fractionated,” meaning it was isolated and separated from the whole food.
Is Citric Acid Bad?
No, of course not. As already stated, it naturally occurs in fruits and vegetables. We just prefer to consume our citric acid from raw fruits and vegetables and whole-food supplements, thank you very much!
What Are Bioflavonoids?
Bioflavonoids are a group of naturally occurring plant compounds which act primarily as plant pigments and antioxidants. They exhibit a host of biological activities, most notably for their powerful antioxidant properties. Bioflavonoids work with other antioxidants to offer a system of protection. Numerous studies have shown their unique role in protecting vitamin C from oxidation in the body, thereby allowing the body to reap more benefits from vitamin C.
Bioflavonoids, also referred to as vitamin P, have only in recent years been discovered for their numerous health purposes. Researchers have discovered thousands of different flavonoids in various plants. They have been shown to be antimutagenic, anticarcinogenic, anti-aging, and they promote structure and function in the circulatory system.
Who Gets the Credit? Vitamin C or Bioflavonoids?
Researchers have discovered that some of the functions that vitamin C is credited with are actually from the bioflavonoids. Since they work so close together, numerous reports have stated that vitamin C and many bioflavonoids need each other to produce the effects that they have on the immune system.
The relationship between flavonoids and vitamin C was actually discovered by mistake. Dr. Albert Szent-Györgyi, the Nobel Prize-winning researcher who discovered flavonoids, was attempting to make a preparation of vitamin C for one of his patients with blood vessel problems. The preparation he gave the patient was not 100% pure; it contained other substances along with the vitamin C. It worked amazingly well.
Later, when Dr. Szent-Györgyi purchased a pure solution of vitamin C, he found it was not nearly as effective with his patients. He suspected flavonoids as the magic addition to vitamin C in his first impure preparation. Present-day research has clearly documented the synergistic (mutually beneficial) relationship between flavonoids and vitamin C. Each substance improves the antioxidant activity of the other, and many of the vitamin-related functions of vitamin C also appear to require the presence of flavonoids.
Some of the reported health-promoting effects of bioflavonoids include:
- better eyesight
- improved cardiovascular health
- increased capillary strength
- improved structure of connective tissues and the appearance of skin
- a stronger immune system
- reduced risk of cancer
- reduced risk of arthritis
- reduced risk of gastrointestinal disorders