Ascorbic Acid

by admin

ascorbic acidQ:  Is ascorbic acid identical to vitamin C?

A: Contrary to popular belief, they are not structurally identical. This acid is created in a laboratory and is an artificial, reduced form of natural vitamin C. If you want a truly natural vitamin C supplement, it can only be found in natural health supplements, whole food vitamins, and organic vitamin C.


Like most people, I grew up with the assumption that although ascorbic acid was created synthetically, it was structurally identical to natural vitamin C. Not only was I taught this in school, but that also is the impression we are given by everyone else. It wasn’t until very recently that I discovered that these two versions are not the same, structurally speaking.

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 breakdown 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.

What is the difference between vitamin C and ascorbic acid?
Government regulator bodies and most of the academic community agree that although these two things differ in structure, the benefits of each are the same. On the other side of the argument, there are those who claim the full benefits may not be realized with the synthetic form.

The Food & Drug Administration 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.

However the natural vitamin C complex (as found in raw fruits and vegetables) contains additional components; vitamins J, K, P, and an enzyme known as terrosenase. One description I commonly read is that if you compare vitamin C to an egg, ascorbic acid allegedly only represents the protective outer shell, not what’s inside.

First of all I would like to say that none of the information or claims on this site have been evaluated by the FDA. No vitamin or supplement should be used for the prevention, treatment, or cure of a disease. I am not a doctor. Please consult one for advice. Nothing found on this site should be interpreted as medical advice.

Do both the synthetic form and natural form do the same thing?
The majority say that ascorbic acid performs the same functions. However there are many out there who say that natural vitamin C (the full structure) acts differently. I am not here to give my personal opinion and take sides. Rather, the purpose of this site is to publish the other side of the argument which is rarely discussed.

Many claim that the other components or “co-factors” which are not included in the synthetic form act as a catalyst; allegedly increasing the effectiveness of the vitamin. There are many other theories and studies which reportedly link to the two forms performing differently.  It has been said that without those co-factors occurring naturally, your body may need to get them from its own reserves in order to fill in the missing pieces.

The Nobel  Prize winner Dr. Albert Szent-Georgi (whom discovered vitamin C) reportedly said that “ascorbic acid simply cannot confer vitamin activity.” Whatever the case, it can be said that almost every supplement sold today only contain these “fractional” reproductions, and not the complete natural form which includes these other parts.

Another option: whole food vitamins
If you want to take the natural form of C (instead of ascorbic acid) you can obtain from most raw, uncooked fruits and vegetables. However vitamin C is water soluble, therefore you it leaves your body via urination 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 supplements. Of course the problem is finding natural vitamin supplements which do not use synthetic versions.

How are whole food vitamins made?
Basically, the process involves taking fruits and vegetables which are rich in the desired nutrient (such as vitamin C) and extracting the water and inert substances through a cold vacuum procedure. What’s left is the natural vitamin complex.

How to get whole food vitamins?
Unfortunately, it’s extremely hard to find them at the store. Because they are most costly to produce (and therefore sell) most manufacturers don’t like making them and most stores don’t like selling them. However I have been able to get mine online for extremely affordable prices which I feel are comparable to the cheap big brands you see on the drugstore shelf. As we learn more about them, I predict whole food vitamins will become huge.