What is Ascorbic Acid?

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Look at a carton of orange juice, a vitamin bottle, or even a can of tomato soup… and you will see it listed on the ingredient label. So what is ascorbic acid? The complete answer may surprise you.

What happens if you don’t get vitamin C?
This is a necessary antioxidant which humans need to survive. It is needed for your body’s production of collagen, bone tissue, would healing, and other intercellular material.

Without it for extended periods of time, you will get scurvy disease; a condition which causes bleeding mucus membranes, neurological problems, and many other nasty things. Centuries ago, people would get this during the year when produce was not available. If left untreated and you do not get vitamin C, it will kill you. Fortunately today, in developed countries like the US, scurvy is extremely rare. When it does occur, it’s usually the result of an excessively poor diet.

what is ascorbic acidThe problem with vitamin C in prepared foods…
Unfortunately, heat destroys vitamin C. Nowadays, virtually all juice and prepared foods are pasteurized (boiled to kill bacteria) and therefore, the vitamin is destroyed.  So when you boil that broccoli or heat up that spaghetti sauce, it’s gone. By the way, this is especially important to remember with baby formula – if you microwave it to warm it up, you are killing off the vitamin C!

So how does orange juice, soup, and all kinds of other foods contain vitamin C? Well after the pasteurization process, a synthetic form is added to it known as ascorbic acid (L ascorbic acid).

What is ascorbic acid made from?
A chemical reaction is used to create this acid. It is synthesized from glucose. Ascorbic acid is not 100% identical to natural vitamin C in chemical structure; rather it is a synthetic component of the vitamin C structure. It is generally accepted that synthetic ascorbic acid fulfills the same function as natural vitamin C.

Is ascorbic acid just as good as natural vitamin C?
Most say it is, but there are some whom believe it is not equivalent. They say that because ascorbic acid is only one component of the full natural structure (vitamin C), it is not the same. In a sense, they are right, since it is not the full structure. Most believe it still gives the same benefits, however there is evidence out there which suggests otherwise.

Are your vitamins synthetic versions?  THE SHOCKING TRUTH…
Virtually every supplement sold at the store uses ascorbic acid, not a natural vitamin C form. So do foods and beverages which fortify their ingredients. But what I was surprised to learn is that, not only is the common form of vitamin C synthetic, but so are many other vitamins, including most in the “B” family.

If you want natural vitamins, it’s highly unlikely you will find them at any chain store. You may be able to get them from a specialty vitamin shop, but not even they always carry them. I buy mine online because it’s so much cheaper. The supplements which use natural vitamin C are known as whole food vitamins (not to be confused with the grocery store of the same name). Whole food multivitamins use camu camu, amla extract, and other natural vitamin C sources.