Vitamin C Tutorial: Natural Vs. Synthetic

We’ve all heard about increased vitamin C preventing or reducing illness, right? People pop pills and guzzle down vitamin C drinks in an effort to stay healthy during “cold season”. There is some evidence that massive doses of vitamin C taken early enough in the illness can drastically reduce the severity and duration of whooping cough. It seems like a harmless and beneficial vitamin to take, doesn’t it? After all, it’s a water-soluble vitamin, which means the body doesn’t store it. As I explained in my post, Why I Don’t Take (Synthetic) Vitamins, popping a vitamin pill isn’t the best way to get our bodies the nutrients they need. Yes, there could be a few benefits to taking synthetic vitamin C, but the dangers might not be worth the risk. So, what’s wrong with synthetic vitamin C?

Ascorbic Acid

Virtually all of the vitamin C supplements available are ascorbic acid. Some will also contain other sources of vitamin C, but ascorbic acid is the prevalent type. So, what is “ascorbic acid”?

Ascorbic acid is considered a naturally occurring substance, but that doesn’t mean it’s healthy. It is a very processed product that almost always starts with glucose from genetically modified corn. The glucose is put through a five-step process before it can be called “ascorbic acid.” (source) That just doesn’t even sound healthy, does it?

One of the worst things about taking isolated “vitamins” is that scientists assume that they know everything there is to know about it and they proclaim “recommended” amounts. They are often having to try to cover their mistakes when they finally realize that an isolated vitamin or mineral is throwing another vitamin or mineral dangerously out of balance. God put certain combinations of nutrients together in different foods for a reason. Isolating them, especially when we’re talking about man-made versions, can hurt our bodies.

 Synthetic “Vitamin C” May Harm Your Body

Ascorbic acid has been shown to cause many unpleasant and sometimes dangerous side effects. (source)

  • Kidney stones
  • Hemolysis (destruction of red blood cells)
  • Migraine or other headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Heartburn
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach cramps

In addition to the above, people with certain conditions may be in danger from “high” levels of ascorbic acid (such as what you find in a “vitamin C” drink mix). Cancer cells absorb high levels of ascorbic acid and people with diabetes could have a dangerous spike in their blood sugar levels. (source)

Benefits of Real Vitamin C

Real vitamin C, from foods and herbs, is completely different. Not only is real vitamin C beneficial, we need it for survival.

Why is Vitamin C so important?

  • It boosts and supports the immune system.
  • It promotes quick healing from injuries.
  • The body uses larger amounts when under stress.
  • It neutralizes free radicals, which could lead to cancer.
  • It helps detoxify the body.
  • It promotes good bacteria and reduces bad bacteria.
  • It is used for collagen production, which helps prevent wrinkles.
  • It helps protect the heart and arteries from free radicals that lead to heart disease.
  • It increases male fertility.
  • It acts as a natural antihistamine.

Now that you know how important natural vitamin C is for your health, are you wondering how to get enough? Be sure to watch for the post next week where you can learn about some wonderful sources of vitamin C, from foods to herbs!

Other posts in this series include:

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9 comments to Vitamin C Tutorial: Natural Vs. Synthetic

  • Kristie

    I was wondering about Ester C. The ingredients say Vitamin C as Ester-C Calcium Ascorbate and Calcium as Ester-C Calcium Ascorbate. Also I have heard good things about liposomal vitamin C. I was wondering about your thoughts on those forms.

    • Good questions, Kristie!

      Ester-C is a mineral ascorbate, rather than an acid. Part of the benefit of vitamin C is that it has extra electrons which neutralize free radicals (which lead to cancer and other illnesses). Mineral ascorbate only has one extra electron, whereas vitamin C from food and even ascorbic acid has two extra electrons. It just isn’t very potent. Beyond that, the company itself says it was “designed” (meaning it’s highly “processed”) and is “unlike any other” vitamin C, meaning it’s not what God created for us to take. They’ve altered it to stay in the blood stream longer than real vitamin C, which they see as a perk, but I consider to be a potential danger, since God designed vitamin C to *not* be stored in our bodies.

      Liposomal vitamin C is nothing more than ascorbic acid that has been further processed by bonding it to phospholipids. The one thing I can say about it is that it seems like it may be better absorbed than regular ascorbic acid, but do we really want that? ;-) Getting more of a man-made compound with many possible dangers and side effects into our blood and tissue just doesn’t strike me as a good idea.

      I hope that’s helpful, Kristie! Thanks so much for your great questions.

      • Kristie

        Thank you for your answers! I took ester c for around 2 years because of suspected mercury issues. I am doing great now, and I don’t take it because I thought it might be bothering my tummy. I do think that it helps to neutralize mercury so I felt that I needed it before. (but maybe a more natural supplement would have been better.) But I am definitely excited to see your next article!

        • You’re so welcome! I think that there are lots of ways that synthetic vitamins can be beneficial, but there are also a lot of ways they can be harmful. ;-) I have really enjoyed learning about natural alternatives and I’m eager to share what I’ve learned! :-)

  • What a great post and reminder that the best way to be nourished and healthy is through a real food diet. Thanks so much for sharing! Blessings, Kelly

  • Katie Hamilton

    Oh this was a good post!!! :):) I stopped taking our vitamins when I read a revealing and scientific post on Aspartame and how it’s in them… blech. That’s enough to stop right there! LOL But I very much enjoyed this post (concise yet informative!!! interesting and relevant!) I CANNOT WAIT to read the next installment! (BEST LINE IN THIS POST IS THIS ONE:: “God put certain combinations of nutrients together in different foods for a reason. Isolating them, especially when we’re talking about man-made versions, can hurt our bodies.”)
    Gr8 Job!!! KEEP IT UP!

    • Thanks so much, Katie!! I love that I have the opportunity to share what I’ve been learning. :-) I read about the Aspartame, too, but I had forgotten about it. That’s enough to convince me not to take them, too! Thanks for the reminder and for your sweet words of encouragement. Blessings, Justyn

  • [...] week, I talked about the many wonderful benefits of natural vitamin C. I also covered why ascorbic acid isn’t the best source of vitamin C, even though it’s [...]

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