Choosing the vitamin C that’s right for you

Vitamin C is one of the great superstars of the vitamin world. With its abundance in nature and the vibrancy it adds to fruits and vegetables, there isn’t too much vitamin C doesn’t do. From immune health to skin health and wound healing, a strong antioxidant as well as supporting the production of collagen and supporting the absorption of dietary iron, the benefits of vitamin C are endless.

While you may know you need vitamin C, if you’ve ever tried to choose between the many vitamin C products on the market you may have been confused by the different types of vitamin C, wondering what they are, when they should be used and if one form is better than another? Here’s a little more on vitamin C to help you choose the vitamin C that’s right for you.

Types of vitamin C

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, meaning it’s not stored in the body so requires frequent replenishing in the diet. Ascorbic acid is the general name given to dietary vitamin C, which is the naturally occurring organic compound found in food.

Commonly ascorbic acid is buffered, which means the vitamin C is combined with another mineral such as calcium, sodium, magnesium or phosphorous. Mineral ascorbates, also known as non-acid, buffered forms of vitamin C, are believed to be less irritating to the stomach than straight ascorbic acid, as their acidic, or pH levels are lower than straight ascorbic acid.

Calcium ascorbate & sodium ascorbate

Calcium ascorbate and sodium ascorbate are the most common forms of buffered vitamin C. When mineral salts are taken, both the ascorbic acid and mineral are absorbed. This is important for individuals looking to either include or avoid certain minerals. For those looking to boost calcium levels, calcium ascorbate may be a preferred form, while those looking to minimise sodium, may prefer to monitor all sources of sodium intake.

Vitamin C: Food or supplements?

The stability of vitamin C in food is heavily influenced by oxygen, storage, cooking and freezing. In fact, cooking reduces the vitamin C content of vegetables by 40% to 60%, while vitamin C losses during vegetable storage can be as high as 70% . As such, the vitamin C content of food sources can vary quite significantly.
In relation to absorption, absorption efficiency of vitamin C is highly dependent on how much is taken. At very low doses (20mg), absorption can reach nearly 100%, whereas with very large doses (12g), only 16% is absorbed . Vitamin C absorption can be represented by a curve with a steep incline between 30mg and 100mg/day up to higher intakes of more than >500mg/day required to achieve optimum blood levels.

Vitamin C: How much do I need?

There is no upper limit set for vitamin C, as gastrointestinal effects are the most common adverse effects associated with acute, high doses over a short period of time. Doses of more than 1000mg have been shown to cause gastrointestinal upset symptoms as the body attempts to rid itself of the high concentration of vitamin C. When deciding how much vitamin C, always consider the type and the dose.

As part of a healthy diet, or supplemented daily, vitamin C has so many benefits including antioxidant effects, supporting immune system health, bone health, skin health, wound healing, blood vessel health, as well as the very important role it plays in supporting the absorption of dietary iron.

1. Schlueter, A. K., & Johnston, C. S. (2011). Vitamin C: Overview and Update. Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine, 16(1), 49–57.
2. Schlueter, A. K., & Johnston, C. S. (2011). Vitamin C: Overview and Update. Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine, 16(1), 49–57.

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