Vitamin C: the difference between ascorbate and ascorbic acid

vitamin c

You may have noticed that there are different names for vitamin C, namely ascorbic acid and ascorbate.

vitamin c

What is Vitamin C

If you already know what vitamin C is then feel free to read on. Vitamin C is also known as ascorbic acid. Oranges are known for their high vitamin C content, but other fruits and vegetables contain vitamin C as well.

What does Vitamin C do?

Vitamin C is hugely important for your health. Some of the functions of vitamin C:

  • Vitamin C has a positive effect on the immune system.
  • Vitamin C has an antioxidant effect. Together with vitamin E, vitamin C protects against free radicals.
  • Vitamin C promotes dietary iron absorption.
  • Vitamin C is good for the nervous system.
  • Vitamin C helps to release energy from fat, carbohydrates and proteins.
  • Vitamin C is important for bones, cartilage, skin and teeth.

What is the natural form of vitamin C?

Ascorbates occur naturally in our diet, so they are the natural form of vitamin C. Ascorbate is ascorbic acid bound to minerals. This also appears to be very useful because it makes ascorbic acid less acidic and more absorbable. That pure ascorbic acid is very acidic and not easily absorbable is because we never actually eat pure ascorbic acid in our diet. Ascorbic acid is of course a part of your diet but it is always in the company of various minerals and flavonoids.

When do you choose an ascorbate?

Nutritional supplements often contain mineral ascorbates. This is ascorbic acid bound to minerals. Ascorbates are the non-acidic forms of vitamin C. Ascorbates are also called deacidified or buffered forms of vitamin C. Because mineral ascorbates are less acidic, they are gentler on the stomach and teeth. You choose a mineral ascorbate if you use vitamin C daily for long periods of time. You also use ascorbates when you need extra vitamin C temporarily, for example to support the body’s defenses.

For supplementing your vitamin C temporarily, for example during the winter months, you can choose ascorbic acid with bioflavonoids.

These mineral ascorbates are your best choice

Supplements can include vitamin C with zinc, potassium, calcium and magnesium as well as sodium, for example. Do you take extra vitamin C as a daily supplement? If so, it is wise to consider not only the dosage of vitamin C, but also how many minerals you then take in. For example, a supplement containing sodium ascorbate may contain high amounts of sodium. While we already take in so much sodium per day!

A mineral ascorbate with magnesium or zinc is already a better choice because these minerals are often found in lesser amounts in our diet and support the action of vitamin C. For example, both zinc and vitamin C have a positive impact on the immune system.

The best buffered vitamin C supplement is one that combines several minerals with vitamin C. In fact, our diet always contains all kinds of minerals as well. A vitamin C supplement with different mineral ascorbates is called an ascorbate complex. So with an ascorbate complex, you stay close to nature.

This is how vitamin C is absorbed even better

Vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables contain flavonoids as well as minerals. Flavonoids are important and you always want to ingest them along with vitamin C. But what are flavonoids?

Flavonoids, also known as bioflavonoids, are natural substances that used to be called vitamin P. Because flavonoids and vitamin C often occur naturally together in food, you want to have this in your supplement as well. A vitamin C supplement is really not complete if bioflavonoids are not added to it.

Here’s how to choose the best vitamin C supplement

Those looking for a quality vitamin C supplement should ideally choose an ascorbate complex. An ascorbate consists of vitamin C attached to a mineral. This makes vitamin C less acidic and therefore gentler on your teeth and stomach. We also call this deacidified or buffered vitamin C. This is especially important if you take extra vitamin C daily, or temporarily use higher doses. An ascorbate complex contains vitamin C and several minerals, as in nature.

In nature, vitamin C does not exist without bioflavonoids. Therefore, a good vitamin C supplement should best also contain bioflavonoids.

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