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
mg/day of Vitamin C
1 – 3 years old
4 – 8 years old
9- 13 years old
Adolescents, 14 – 18 years old
Men, ≥ 19 years old
Women, ≥ 19 years old
14 – 18 years old
≥ 19 years old
14 – 18 years old
≥ 19 years old
Add in 35mg/day in any group above*
*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
- 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 C.2
- Exposure to oxygen, light and prolonged heating are destructive to ascorbic acid contents of foods.1
- Some studies have shown a small difference between natural versus synthetic vitamin C but conclude that the difference is likely to have minimal physiological impact.2
- 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.
- For High Potency: Choose Vitamin C with Bioflavonoids
- Bioflavonoids are plant derived compounds, they are mainly found in citrus fruits.2
- Bioflavanoids may increase the absorption and antioxidant potency of vitamin C.2
- Rose hips contain bioflavanoids. Rose hip is by itself a natural source of vitamin C.3
- Vitamin C in combination with rose hips may allow better absorption of vitamin C.3
- 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 acting.4
- It is gentle on the stomach, taste great and suitable for those who have difficulty to swallow.4
- Some effervescent Vitamin C products have a combination of Zinc, a trace mineral. 4
- Zinc has a positive effect on the immune system.5
- 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 stomach.2
- Buffered C maintains the PH balance which makes it more comfortable to the stomach when consuming.2
- Ester-C® is made up of Calcium ascorbate. Due to its calcium mineral, it is PH neutral and known to be gentle to the gut.2
- 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 day.2
- A formulation called Ester-C® claims that it can last up to 24 hours in the body.6
- The supporting study showed that those taking Ester-C had more vitamin C in white blood cells compared to those who took regular vitamin C.7
- 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 levels. 1
- 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, colostrums contains high amounts of immunoglobulin, growth factor and antibodies.8
- 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.
- 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 skin.1
- Vitamin C as an antioxidant is able to counter the effects of free radicals that may lead to cell damage.1
- Vitamin C has been used in various beauty products for its “anti-aging” properties.9
- Glutathione is an antioxidant. It is also known for its antimelanogenic effects and therefore used as a skin whitening agent.10
- Vitamin C may work synergistically glutathione. A study showed healthy adults who consumed vitamin C when had increased glutathione levels.11
- Recommended nutrient intakes for Malaysia. National coordinating committee on food and nutrition (2017) Ministry of Health Malaysia.
- Bioavailability of Different Forms of Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid). R Jaffe. (2013) Linus Pauling Institue, Perque Integrative Health.
- Rose Hip. WebMD (Web accessed Aug 2018). Web link: https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-839/rose-hip
- Vitamin C 1000mg + Zinc 10mg Orange Flavour [Product]. Kordel (web accessed Aug 2018). Web link: http://kordels.co/p_vm_vitamin_c_1000mg.php
- Zinc and the immune system. L Rink & P Gabriel (2000). Proceedings of the Nutrition Society.
- Ester C [Product]. The Ester C Company (web accessed Aug 2018). Web link: https://www.esterc.com/
- 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.
- Colostrum – its composition, benefits as a nutraceutical – a review. ML Godhia & N Patel (2013). Current Research Nutrition Food Science.
- Anti-aging ingredients that work: The best vitamin C beauty products we’re obsessed with. J Quinn (2018). Gear & Style Cheat Sheet.
- Glutathione and its antiaging and antimelanogenic effects. S Weschawalit, S Thongthip, P Asawanonda, et al (2017). Clinical Cosmetic Investigation Dermatology.
- Vitamin C elevates red blood cell glutathione in healthy adults. CS Johnston, CG Meyer & JC Srilakshmi (1993). The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition