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C The Difference


By Joshua Ng (Pharmacist, Caring Pharmacy) | Malaysia | Tue Oct 02, 2018 10:50am


1. INTRODUCTION

1.1. Sources of Vitamin C1

  • Vitamin C is found mostly in fresh fruits and leafy vegetables
  • Fruits rich in vitamin C include guava, mango, papaya, citrus fruits and tomatoes
  • Vegetables rich in Vitamin C include cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and most green leafy vegetables like 'bak-choy' and spinach.


1.2. Tolerable Upper Intake Levels of ascorbic acid for various age group1

*Smokers lose vitamin C at a 50% faster rate compared to non-smokers

1.3. Benefits of Vitamin C1

  • Collagen formation, a protein that gives structure to bones, teeth, cartilage, skin, muscle and blood vessels
  • Aids in absorption of iron
  • It is an antioxidant that protect against free radicals that can harmful to the body
  • It is known to strengthen immune system and wound healing


2. ARE VITAMIN C SUPPLEMENTS THE SAME AS NATURAL VITAMIN C?

  • The chemical name of Vitamin C is L-ascorbic acid1
  • Natural and synthetic Vitamin C is chemically similar2
  • However natural vitamin C, i.e. from fruits may contain bioflavonoids which may improve bioavailability of Vitamin C2
  • Exposure to oxygen, light and prolonged heating are destructive to ascorbic acid contents of foods1
  • Some studies have shown a small difference between natural versus synthetic vitamin C but conclude that the difference is likely to have minimal physiological impact2

3. HOW TO CHOOSE A VITAMIN C SUPPLEMENT?

Disclaimer: Certain claims below may not be supported by independent clinical research. Nonetheless, all types of Vitamin C below are considered safe to consume. For further clarification, please consult your doctor or pharmacist.

3.1. For High Potency: Choose Vitamin C with Bioflavonoids

  • Bioflavonoids are plant derived compounds, they are mainly found in citrus fruits2
  • Bioflavanoids may increase the absorption and antioxidant potency of vitamin C2
  • Rose hips contain bioflavanoids. Rose hip is by itself a natural source of vitamin C3
  • Vitamin C in combination with rose hips may allow better absorption of vitamin C3

3.2. For Boosting the Immune System: Choose Effervescent Vitamin C

  • Vitamin C in effervescent formulation has high bioavailability due to solute nature. It is considered to be fast acting4
  • It is gentle on the stomach, taste great and suitable for those who have difficulty to swallow4
  • Some effervescent Vitamin C products have a combination of Zinc, a trace mineral4
  • Zinc has a positive effect on the immune system5

3.3. Gentle on Gut: Choose Buffered Vitamin C or Ester-C®

  • Buffered C is usually combined with minerals salts like calcium, magnesium, potassium. These minerals are alkalizing, therefore gentle to the stomach2
  • Buffered C maintains the PH balance which makes it more comfortable to the stomach when consuming2
  • Ester-C® is made up of Calcium ascorbate. Due to its calcium mineral, it is PH neutral and known to be gentle to the gut2

3.4. All day Protection: Slow release or Ester-C®

  • Certain products are in slow release formulation, they can therefore release vitamin C to ensure a constant supply of antioxidant and immune boosting effects through the day2
  • A formulation called Ester-C® claims that it can last up to 24 hours in the body6
  • The supporting study showed that those taking Ester-C had more vitamin C in white blood cells compared to those who took regular vitamin C7


3.5. For Hectic Lifestyle: Choose Vitamin C 1000mg or Vitamin C with a combination of B complex

  • A higher dose of vitamin C may be ideal for a hectic lifestyle especially if one is unable to adopt a balance diet
  • (Refer to graph above to table above for tolerable upper intake for each age group)
  • Vitamin C can be in combination with B complex, many B complex supplements contain both Vitamin B and C
  • B complex helps in coping with stress and increase energy levels1

3.6. For Kids: Choose syrups, chewable tablets or Vitamin C with a combination of colostrum

  • Colostrum is usually derived from cow's milk after giving birth, colostrum contains high amounts of immunoglobulin, growth factor and antibodies8
  • Vitamin C with a combination of colostrum may work synergistically to improve the immune system of a child
  • Vitamin C in syrup or chewable tablet formulation may be useful for kids who have difficulty swallowing tablets

3.7. For Skin Health: Vitamin C with a combination of glutathione

  • Vitamin C is needed to synthesize collagen which is needed in the connective tissues such as the skin1
  • Vitamin C as an antioxidant is able to counter the effects of free radicals that may lead to cell damage1
  • Vitamin C has been used in various beauty products for its "anti-aging" properties
  • Glutathione is an antioxidant. It is also known for its antimelanogenic effects and therefore used as a skin whitening agent10
  • Vitamin C may work synergistically glutathione. A study showed healthy adults who consumed vitamin C when had increased glutathione levels11


References

  1.  Recommended nutrient intakes for Malaysia. National coordinating committee on food and nutrition (2017) Ministry of Health Malaysia. 

  2. Bioavailability of Different Forms of Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid). R Jaffe. (2013) Linus Pauling Institue, Perque Integrative Health.

  3. Rose Hip. WebMD (Web accessed Aug 2018). Web link: www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-839/rose-hip

  4. Vitamin C 1000mg + Zinc 10mg Orange Flavour [Product]. Kordel (web accessed Aug 2018). Web link: kordels.co/p_vm_vitamin_c_1000mg.php

  5. Zinc and the immune system. L Rink & P Gabriel (2000). Proceedings of the Nutrition Society.

  6. Ester C [Product]. The Ester C Company (web accessed Aug 2018). Web link: www.esterc.com/

  7. Determination of plasma and leukocyte Vitamin C concentrations in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled with with Ester-C. SH Mitmesser, Q Ye, M Combs, et al. (2016). Springerplus.

  8. Colostrum – its composition, benefits as a nutraceutical – a review. ML Godhia & N Patel (2013). Current Research Nutrition Food Science. 

  9. Anti-aging ingredients that work: The best vitamin C beauty products we’re obsessed with. J Quinn (2018). Gear & Style Cheat Sheet.

  10. Glutathione and its antiaging and antimelanogenic effects. S Weschawalit, S Thongthip, P Asawanonda, et al (2017). Clinical Cosmetic Investigation Dermatology.

  11. Vitamin C elevates red blood cell glutathione in healthy adults. CS Johnston, CG Meyer & JC Srilakshmi (1993). The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

 

 

 






 

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