Vitamin C / ascorbic acid

The water-soluble vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid, is vital and has many different tasks. It releases electrons and scavenges free radicals such as reactive oxygen molecules, it thus has antioxidant effects, i.e. it reduces oxidative damage in the body. Among other things, vitamin C plays a central role in the formation of collagen (connective tissue, cartilage and bones), carnitine and hormones. Vitamin C must be supplied with food, as the human organism is not able to produce it itself compared to animals. Since vitamin C cannot be stored in the body, a continuous intake of the vitamin is necessary.

Good to know about vitamin C

  • the daily requirement for women is 95 mg, for men 110 mg
  • during pregnancy and lactation, the vitamin C requirement is increased (105 mg/125 mg)
  • a deficiency of vitamin C leads to scurvy
  • vitamin C promotes the absorption of iron
  • vitamin C is very unstable and its content in food decreases very quickly, e.g. when it is cooked, frozen or kept warm
  • according to current studies, a high intake of vitamin C does not lead to oxalate kidney stones

Vitamin C bioavailability

Vitamin C cannot be stored in the body. If too much is taken, most of it is excreted in the urine. Vitamin C can be taken as a powder in the form of ascorbic acid, sodium ascorbate or calcium ascorbate. It is also possible to take vitamin C in so-called sustained-release capsules.  These release the vitamin C with a delay, which increases the absorption twofold. The body's absorption capacity of synthetic vitamin C and vitamin C from food is practically the same.

High amounts of vitamin C can cause nausea, flatulence or diarrhea.

How do I recognize a vitamin C deficiency?

  • accumulation of keratin in the hair root, causing rough hair
  • inflamed and bleeding gums, decreased wound healing
  • depression and change in personality due to decreased synthesis of neurotransmitters
  • higher susceptibility to infections
  • weakness, fatigue and decreased protection against oxidative stress

Functions of vitamin C

Vitamin C has the ability to give off electrons (oxidation). It donates electrons to cells and to many endogenous substances (e.g. vitamin E, folic acid) to protect them from oxidation. It is also involved in the conversion of copper into a form in which it is incorporated into many antioxidant enzyme systems.

Collagen production
Vitamin C is an irreplaceable cofactor for the production of collagen (an important component of connective tissue). It prepares two amino acids, lysine and proline, for incorporation into collagenous fibers and binds individual fibers into connective tissue. This gives connective tissue its stability and strength.

Immune system
Vitamin C leads to an up regulation of natural killer cells. It also promotes the formation of defense cells (lymphocytes) as well as signal molecules (cytokines) and antibodies.

Other functions of vitamin C include:

  • Cholesterol breakdown: the breakdown of cholesterol to bile acids into vitamin C-dependent.
  • Excretion of chemicals and drugs: stimulation of the enzyme system in the liver, resulting in better excretion of toxins or heavy metals.
  • Iron absorption: conversion to a more bioavailable form of iron; assists in the transfer of iron from the transport protein (transferrin) to the storage protein (ferritin).
  • Formation of carnitine: vitamin C is necessary for the formation of carnitine. Insufficient carnitine levels can lead to fatigue and muscle weakness.
  • Degradation of histamine: Histamine is released during allergies. Vitamin C plays a role in regulating histamine levels; insufficient vitamin C levels increase histamine levels in the blood.
  • Production of hormones and neurotransmitters: Vitamin C is needed in the production of adrenaline, noradrenaline and serotonin, as well as the neurotransmitters.

Who has an additional need for vitamin C?

Vitamin C reduces the body's stress response or cortisol release in the adrenal gland. Physical stress, infections, fever, burns, muscle and bone trauma, surgery, but also competitive sports increase the need for vitamin C.

During pregnancy the need is increased and from the 4th month a daily intake of 105 mg is recommended. Breastfeeding women are even advised to take 125 mg per day.

Elderly people not infrequently show vitamin C deficiency, which is especially the case with chronic diseases (e.g. heart disease, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases, diabetes ...). The aging process is often associated with a decrease in the level of vitamin C in the blood plasma and white blood cells.

Smokers have a greater loss of vitamin C due to higher oxidative stress.  For this reason, a higher intake is recommended for this group of individuals, 155 mg for men and 135 mg for women.

The regular intake of medications such as aspirin, birth control pills and other estrogen-containing preparations, cortisone preparations and stomach protectors, among others, worsens the vitamin C status.

Vitamin C and L-ascorbic acid - natural or synthetic

There are no differences! An article from the Burgerstein medical department

For us, naturalness means providing the body with the micronutrients in the form in which it knows and can optimally utilize them. As far as possible, we avoid unnecessary additives, artificial flavours or sweeteners that are foreign to the body. The most natural way to take vitamins is through a balanced, healthy diet. Where this is not possible, or to correct deficiencies, high-quality, readily bioavailable micronutrients are an option.

In the case of vitamin C, chemically speaking, we are always dealing with L-ascorbic acid in both natural and synthetic sources. There is no difference between these forms.

Read more about it in this article!

Products with vitamin C...