"A rose hip by any other name"

Vitamin C terminology is the subject of a recent e-mail, signed by HSI members Ginger and Larry. G & L write:

“It seems to me that someone is missing the fact that vitamin C is NOT the exact same item as ascorbic acid, ever though it is often measured that way. The entire complex of C includes elements that Jonathan V. Wright and others have written about often and I feel, as a chiropractor learning as much as I can from the big guys about nutrition, that there is something there that should be taken into account. Comments?”

It’s true that the terms “vitamin C” and “ascorbic acid” are often used interchangeably, but shouldn’t be. In the e-Alert “Attack of the Vapors” (1/6/04), here’s what HSI Panelist Allan Spreen, M.D., had to say about ascorbic acid:

“This is the standard form of vitamin C. Calcium ascorbate is one of the salt forms of the nutrient (as opposed to the acid form). It is usually synthetic, as are other forms, such as sodium ascorbate, magnesium ascorbate, etc. It tends to be bitter, while ascorbic acid is sour.”

And on the natural vs. synthetic forms of vitamin C, Dr. Spreen again: “The synthetic vitamin C molecule is chemically identical to natural forms. The difference arises in other nutrients that accompany the C, such as bioflavonoids, which make the C more effective. That’s not to say that I don’t prefer natural; it’s just that it’s very hard to come by, and extremely expensive.”

“Attack of the Vapors” provides a compact but thorough look at vitamin C, courtesy of Dr. Spreen, and can be easily found by going to our web site (hsionline.com) and using the “Search the e-Alert archives” feature.

To Your Good Health,

Jenny Thompson
Health Sciences Institute