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Sources, Benefits, Forms, Dosage
What is Vitamin C?
Vitamin C is one of thirteen essential vitamins. Essential vitamins need to be present in the diet because the human body cannot make the nutrients on its own, or in sufficient amounts to sustain normal and healthy bodily functions.1 Vitamin C is considered an essential vitamin due to its many physiological health benefits, and along with being essential it is also water-soluble. Water-soluble vitamins like Vitamin C and the eight B vitamins dissolve in water and are not stored in the liver or fatty-tissue like with fat-soluble vitamins.1 Since water-soluble vitamins are easily flushed out of the body it is uncommon to develop toxic side effects.
Benefits of Vitamin C – There are many
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that provides protection from free radicals and also supports the immune system. Research suggests that it may play a role in the reduction of the duration of the common cold, but only when taken as a preventive measure before getting sick.1,2 Evidence suggests that Vitamin C may aid in the prevention of the common cold, but only for unique populations, such as athletes taking 200 mg/day.2
In addition to immune support, Vitamin C supports the synthesis of neurotransmitters, and also collagen, which is an essential protein found in connective tissue, which in turn supports wound healing.1,2 Vitamin C also enhances the bioavailability and nutrient uptake of certain micronutrients such as iron from plant food sources, copper, and chromium.1
Due to Vitamin C’s antioxidant properties, research demonstrates probable cause that Vitamin C plays a role in the prevention of certain types of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and age-related macular degeneration.2
Forms of Vitamin C – Which is best?
Vitamin C is found in the form of L-ascorbic acid, which can be found naturally in foods, used to fortify foods, and as a dietary supplement.2 Supplemental forms of Vitamin C can be found either naturally or synthetically. Types of Vitamin C forms found in supplements are ascorbic acid, mineral ascorbates, or Vitamin C bound to bioflavonoids.3
Mineral ascorbates are salts of ascorbic acid which are recommended to people who have sensitive stomachs, or who experience gastrointestinal issues with higher pH levels.3 Popular forms of mineral ascorbates are sodium ascorbate, calcium ascorbate, and other mineral ascorbates that are typically found together.1
Research does not have enough evidence to prove a difference in absorption between natural and synthetic forms of Vitamin C.4 However, other micronutrients found in foods such as bioflavonoids, which are compounds found in plant food sources, may improve the bioavailability of Vitamin C when combined together.4 Therefore, forms of Vitamin C bound with bioflavonoids are thought to increase the bioavailability of Vitamin C and enhance its therapeutic benefits.4,5