Beware of Ascorbic Acid: Synthetic Vitamin C

by Sarah Healthy LivingComments: 187

isolated ascorbic acid is not in fruitDid you know that ascorbic acid is actually a synthetic form of vitamin C?

If you are learning this for the first time, it can be a rather shocking realization as almost all vitamin C supplements on the market use ascorbic acid.

Even more disturbing – ascorbic acid is frequently marketed as natural vitamin C. Truly natural forms of vitamin C and synthetic ascorbic acid seem to be used interchangeably.

How confusing for the consumer!

Nearly all juices and fruit products are loaded up with ascorbic acid, even many organic, healthfood store versions. It seems that if a product is labeled “high in Vitamin C”, consumers buy more of it.

A lot of folks are being fooled by these misleading semantics and there is a growing body of evidence that those consuming high doses of ascorbic acid should have reason to worry.

Three Studies Suggest Caution with High Dose Ascorbic Acid

The Winter 2009 edition of Wise Traditions cites 3 studies which give pause about large doses of vitamin C. The first study (from the Jun 15, 2001 issue of Science) showed that “synthetic vitamin C may contribute to the formation of genotoxins that can lead to cancer”.

A second study presented to the American Heart Association showed a link between consumption of only 500mg of vitamin C per day and a greater propensity toward thickening of the arteries (Los Angeles Times, March 3, 2000).

Even more recently, athletes taking 1000mg of vitamin C per day showed reduced endurance capacity from interference with antioxidant enzymes (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Jan 2008).

This information should give pause to anyone who is actively taking synthetic vitamin C supplements such as those Emergen-C packets that are available everywhere, from pharmacies and health food stores to even gas stations!.

Supplements like these are NOT boosting immunity and are NOT good for you! Synthetic vitamins such as ascorbic acid act more like drugs in the body rather than whole food nutrients with all the available cofactors. Taking any synthetic vitamin can cause imbalances in the body and should be avoided.

Another worrisome and popular trend is the recommendation of some alternative health professionals to do a “vitamin C flush” during illness. This therapy (if you can call it that) calls for large doses of ascorbic acid until the onset of diarrhea. This approach to regaining wellness has never made any sense to me and now, with more studies indicating the danger of high doses of vitamin C, my caution seems well founded.

What about High Dose, Intravenous Ascorbic Acid?

What about high dose, intravenous ascorbic acid for the very ill?

Perhaps in extreme circumstances, high dose ascorbic acid as therapy can be beneficial, but ascorbic acid shouldn’t be a regular feature in anyone’s diet or supplement regimen.

Whole Food Vitamin C is Naturally Low Dose

The best way to get vitamin C on a daily basis is from a whole foods source, which naturally provides this critical nutrient at a low dosage. For example, the vitamin C we use in our home for the kids is a chewable, acerola cherry vitamin C. Each tablet only contains 30mg of real vitamin C!

When you get the whole foods version of vitamin C, you don’t need much at all. A truly natural vitamin C supplement with no added ascorbic acid is naturally low-dose.

Don’t forget about raw milk – a great source of vitamin C. The vitamin C in raw milk is mostly destroyed by pasteurization, by the way (along with many other nutrients). Fresh and lacto-fermented fruits and vegetables (like traditionally made saurkraut) are other excellent sources of the whole vitamin C complex.

Perhaps folks feel the need to take large doses of synthetic vitamin C in the form of ascorbic acid because all the processed foods they are eating are so devoid of the nutrient in its whole form? Switching to whole foods and dumping those vitamin C supplements in the trash would be a much better approach to boosting immunity!

What to Look for in a True Vitamin C Product

To give you some idea of what to look for in a vitamin C supplement, here are the ingredients of the one I take. Notice that there is no isolated ascorbic acid or other ascorbates and no additives.  Just pure food Vitamin C sources. Please note that this is not the only Vitamin C supplement that qualifies as totally pure.  There are a few others.  This is just the one I take.

Pure Radiance C ingredients: camu camu berry extract, manioc root, acerola berry extract, amla berry extract, buckwheat berry sprouts, freeze-dried berry blend, blueberry, raspberry, cranberry, cherry, rose hips fruit, lemon peel, black pepper berry extract.

Ascorbic Acid is Usually from Genetically Modified Corn

What’s worse is that ascorbic acid is not just synthetic.  It is also usually derived from genetically modified corn! More on that travesty fooling millions of consumers every single day in this article.

Talk about adding insult to injury!

Want to know where to get some Real Vitamin C?  Click here for sources with several vetted brands to choose from.

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist


More Information

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Comments (187)

  • Esteri

    I have reading through all the comments and a couple people have asked and not yet had an answer about camu camu powder and I am wondering too Sarah if you feel we can be confident if buy it that it indeed does have the amount of Vit c that it claims to provide on the package even after it is dried and packaged. Do you know how they determine that. Is there any test one could do on the powder to know. Also I have bought rosehip powder and orange peel powder etc. from Mountain Rose Herbs and wondering if those are good sources especially if they have been in a jar for a while.

    January 14th, 2016 11:24 pm Reply
  • L

    Thank you for this, it was super helpful. And thank you for recommending a good product since I’ve been looking for one that wasn’t garbage. Most sites just say “contains 100% vitamin C,” which is like calling a product “natural.” It just means nothing.

    January 4th, 2016 10:32 pm Reply
  • Penny

    Ascorbic acid is SYNTHETIC vitamin c and is harmful to the gut. I got very sick from it. How can you recommend a synthetic, man made vitamin?

    September 21st, 2015 8:23 am Reply
    • R

      Anyone know what this is: Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Lactobacillus, Bulgaricus?
      I was told These probiotics are used by the manufacturer to naturally cultivate the nutrients that are used in this product. It’s in this: Raw Vitamin C from the Vitamin Shoppe.

      January 6th, 2016 7:21 pm Reply
    • John Smith

      There isn’t actually any difference between ‘synthetic’ vitamin C and ‘natural’ vitamin C.They’re both the same molecule, six carbons, 6 oxygens and 8 hydrogens bound together in the same way. The molecules don’t have any way of knowing how they were derived, and they don’t interact any differently with the body.

      The term ‘ascorbic acid’ is just the scientific name for vitamin C. It’s derived from Greek: ‘a’ for anti or absence of, and ‘scorbutus’ for scurvy, because, as I’m sure you know, scurvy occurs due to a lack of vitamin C. So ascorbic acid can be used to refer to ‘synthetic’ or ‘natural’ vitmain C.

      Like the author points out, there definitely are problems with consuming too much vitmain C. The only reason that this is a concern when taking ‘synthetic’ vitamin C rather than ‘natural’ vitamin C is that is much easier to overdose when it’s in tablet form. If you had enough oranges, you’d have the same problems, but it’s obviously a lot harder to physically eat that many oranges.

      I know it’s a common belief, but the fact that something is natural doesn’t make it safe, and the fact that something is synthetic doesn’t make it unsafe. Malaria, ebola, AIDS, etc. are all natural. Cyanide is present in many fruit seeds, and is found in particularly high concentrations in almonds. On the other hand, paracetamol is man made, but (in the proper dosages) is completely safe.

      April 7th, 2016 2:06 am Reply
      • Deborah

        Excellent explanation.

        June 12th, 2016 5:25 pm Reply
      • aglotus

        AIDS is not natural – it was produced in a military lab – milab in USA by two male perpetrators. It was originally introduced in USA in selected urban areas (initially targetting gay communities) as part of the hepatitis-C vaccine. Similarly introduced to Africa as part of smallpox vaccine (and possibly others).

        Regarding ebola – Nigerians discovered that the only people who got sick were the ones who presented at the RedCross-run centers and received a jab (ie straight into the blood-stream, thus by-passing several of people’s natural defence mechanisms such as sulliva, skin/sweat barrier etc).

        So look back at the previously hyped ‘pandemics’: avian-flue, swine-flue, ebola and the current attempt at kiddology: zika virus – none of them panned-out – people DID NOT rush out to have a ‘jab’ and have their immune system compromised.

        June 29th, 2016 9:53 am Reply
  • JR

    The Use of Vitamin C, and other complex Vitamins are necessary because the food is not providing
    these products. Therefore, the amount you need will vary with the individual’ diet and the number of years this process has taken place.The replacement needs to be natural, continuous, and cautious.
    The added effect of toxins from the food and other sources will make the biochemical pathways difficult. Furthermore, these toxins will have to escape through a good functional Liver. All these factors have to be considered and usually explain some of the different responds.

    May 23rd, 2015 9:03 pm Reply
  • HL

    The other side of the coin:

    May 15th, 2015 12:25 pm Reply
  • Brodie

    I’ve read all the comments and decided to check out all the different types of Vit.C.
    Came across this site that explains it fairly well.

    I think that alll we need is an open mind and be willing to learn. And a lot of research.
    And as someone has already said ‘dont expect to be spoon-fed’

    May 13th, 2015 10:18 pm Reply
  • Brian

    I didn’t see any mention of the compound known as sodium ascorbate as a preferred supplement. Take a look at the video by Suzanne Humphries. She has probably spent more time researching vitamin C than all the bloggers here combined, and quotes results from many a study in her lecture.

    April 9th, 2015 2:18 pm Reply
    • Trisa

      Thank-you Brian for this link.. Great information for anyone with questions on Vitamin C..

      July 2nd, 2015 12:09 pm Reply
    • Nikoleta


      January 1st, 2016 12:19 pm Reply
  • Alex


    As a nutritionist and a researcher, I appreciate you helping point people in the right direction. While your logic may seem right with vitamin C, the science behind it is not. First, how much vitamin C do you think is left post-harvest once the camu camu, acerola cherry or other vitamin C rich foods leave the amazon or other tropical climate, are processed, exposed to varying degrees of temperature, light and moisture, put on an airplane or shipped UPS to a warehouse, then to your door? What you are recommending people buy for vitamin C may in fact be depleted powder, one that I found myself not getting enough vitamin C from. If you disagree, read this study from UC Davis showing what happens to vitamin C post-harvest.

    Also, by cherry picking three studies for vitamin C, you are neglecting literally thousands that show the exact opposite, which is misleading to your readers. For cardiovascular disease, page 100 in Ascorbate: The Science of Vitamin C by Dr. Steve Hickey and Dr. Hilary Roberts document 30 studies showing a positive response to doses over 500mg, and only 1 positive to a dose less than 500mg. They also address the first study you mentioned on page 99 showing that the 2.5 fold increase was not based on an actual reported measurement of the wall, and the change so small that it was “essentially meaningless.” I highly recommend that book and Primal Panacea by Thomas, E. Levy MD, JD to really understand vitamin C and the thousands of postiive studies behind it.

    If you really want to get whole food vitamin C, a better recommendation would be to plant persimmons, black currents, berries and citrus and eat them off the vine. But your warning of l-ascorbic acid does not have scientific validity and perpetuates misinformation.

    March 24th, 2015 2:51 pm Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      I can guarantee you the thousands of studies you refer to didn’t use GMO derived ascorbic acid!

      March 24th, 2015 3:11 pm Reply
    • Chris

      Well said. If you ask the experts, like Linus Pauling, Hickey, Levy, Klenner they will tell you the cheapest forms of Ascorbic Acid are the best. They’ve been used in countless studies for years, and have saved lives.

      April 29th, 2015 9:36 pm Reply
      • Chris

        And this link to the Oregon State Medical Center (Linus Pauling’s Center) says you’re wrong.

        April 29th, 2015 9:39 pm Reply
      • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

        Ummmm, Linus Pauling didn’t live to see GMO corn did he? I would venture to say he would have a different opinion today given that his precious ascorbic acid is adulterated into something else entirely than what he actually used for his research!

        April 30th, 2015 8:14 am Reply
        • Bryant Thompson

          It doesn’t matter where the vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid) comes from. Once it’s at the molecular level it is C6H8O8! That is all it is. Synthetic doesn’t come into it.

          March 5th, 2016 8:16 am Reply
    • Betty

      Citric Acid makes my acid reflux go crazy and also gives me hives and canker sores in my mouth ( on tongue and cheeks). My doctor says I need to take Vitamin C. I can not eat fruits and Vegetables with any Citric Acid in them duo to these side effects. What would you suggest?

      May 13th, 2015 6:26 pm Reply
      • Amy

        I use Vibrant Health brand vitamin C and never have any side effects from it, other than feeling better and having more energy!

        July 24th, 2015 1:42 am Reply
    • Tina

      I am so relieved to have read your comment ,As I am in the process of healing through vitamin C. After only 2 weeks of dosing via body weight, I mix the powder with water and sip through out the day, To say I feel good is not enough. I can truly say I can not remember the last time I felt so good! Its actually sad that the general public is not made aware of the true benefits of Vitamin C or as I have come to classify it, Ascorbic Acid.

      September 25th, 2015 8:23 am Reply
    • Helen

      Hi Alex, I realy appreciated your comments on this issue. I am also a nutritionist and researcher. I would love to know your opinion on treating children with Pertussis/ Whooping cough with L-Ascorbic Acid or sodium Ascorbate

      June 9th, 2016 3:05 pm Reply
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  • Hugo

    Ascorbic acid is an optically active compound. It can have L and D forms. L-ascorbic acid is the natural form and called vitamin-C.

    This, when obtained from the natural sources, will be entirely L-ascorbic acid. Hence you can use it safely.

    But if it is synthesized in the laboratory, then you may get both L and D forms. So this mixture is to be purified to get only L.

    What I have seen in the market is L-ascorbic acid. You have to confirm whether the product in your hand is L or D before purchasing.

    September 12th, 2014 9:26 pm Reply
  • Hugo

    Ascorbic acid is the chemical name for vitamin C, which is a powerful antioxidant chemical.
    The names “L-ascorbate” and “ascorbic acid” sound so similar that it’s natural to wonder whether they’re the same thing chemically. The answer is both yes and no. Technically, L-ascorbate isn’t identical to ascorbic acid. They’re interchangeable in the body, however, so consuming one amounts to consuming the other, and they both occur in natural sources.

    September 12th, 2014 9:20 pm Reply
  • Eric

    liquid pure L-ascorpic acid (with no added buffering components) can be order from you’re local pharmacy.

    August 31st, 2014 12:43 pm Reply
  • Amy

    This is an excellent article. Thank you for pointing out that manufactured ascorbic acid from GMO corn is NOT the same as natural vitamin C. My daughter is highly allergic to corn in all it’s forms and ascorbic acid has caused some of of her worse reactions. I do not believe it’s a supplement anyone should be consuming.

    August 25th, 2014 1:49 am Reply
  • Pucelle

    I just wanted to point out that there’s no such thing as a Vitamin C complex and anyone touting it or selling is just taking your money. Vitamin C’s name is L-Ascorbic-Acid just like all the other Vitamin’s have a name. The studies on Vitamin C are all on Ascorbic Acid and if you remove ascorbic acid from the equation the studies fail and don’t have the same results. Ascorbic meas no scurvy which is how it was discovered.

    That being said, you have 2 forms of Vitamin C: l-ascorbic-acid (found in nature) and d-ascorbic-acid (not found in nature and must be synthesized). L-ascorbic-acid is what is recommended and it can be taken as a concentrated powder or via food. Yellow peppers, aerola cherries, camu camu, kaduku plum, Guava, Sea Buckthorn Berries, Rose Hips, & Amla are all excellent sources of Vitamin C so if you don’t want to take the extracted form you don’t have to.

    August 1st, 2014 6:10 pm Reply
  • Cassie Haga Meadows via Facebook

    I want to scream like the corn in the picture.

    July 24th, 2014 7:47 pm Reply
  • Lisa Simon Zubek via Facebook

    I wonder what they’re using in Vitamin C IV-therapy? I’ve read the results are almost miraculous in treating cancer.

    July 24th, 2014 7:21 pm Reply
  • SteveandPaula Runyan via Facebook

    We take acerola powder daily. Within 3 months of adding it to our diet, my severe gluten allergy was fully healed.

    July 24th, 2014 12:20 pm Reply
  • pam

    interesting idea

    despite so many people swear by it, i could not tell the difference from C (ascorbic acid) (either for cold/fu whatever). makes no difference.

    it is hard to imagine our primate ancestors ate hundreds of orange every day tho.


    July 12th, 2014 3:57 am Reply
    • Laurens

      The ancestors also rarely lived past 32 years of age.

      January 20th, 2015 12:02 pm Reply
      • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

        Sorry, this is a total myth. Life expectancy was skewed by a high death rate for children under 5. If a person made it to age 5, the chances of living to a ripe old age were very good.

        January 20th, 2015 3:36 pm Reply
    • Bob Clayton

      Pam, they don’t need to. Vitamin C is rich in most fresh vegetables. The mountain gorilla gets around 3,000 mg a day from his diet. You don’t need just citrus fruits for Vitamin C.
      We shouldn’t need ANY dietary Vitamin C because our bodies should be making around 200 mg per hour. We have a fault in our chemistry.

      September 19th, 2015 5:22 am Reply
  • Rick

    Studies can be found showing the “toxicity” of about anything. Since the public responds so well to fear mongering, these are the studies that make hay on the Internet to an ill informed public.

    The studies you cite on the “dangers” of asoribic acid are flawed statistically and in design. The average person is unable to sort this out.

    There are thousands of studies showing the benefits and safety of ascorbic acid–compared to the three you focused on.

    Exactly how does does a GMO source change the biochemical structure of ascorbic acid to make it somehow toxic, as you imply? Perhaps you could explain why “toxic GMO ascorbic acid” can both prevent and cure scurvy–overt vitamin C deficiency disease.

    July 7th, 2014 12:45 pm Reply
  • Stuart

    Such an informative article AND responses. Thanks for the information, love a good read!

    June 27th, 2014 12:51 am Reply
    • dan

      You are absolutely on point. When people make an effort to become reasonably FEERLESS they become healthy human beings on so many levels.

      May 13th, 2015 6:52 pm Reply
  • Amelia

    Interesting, but confusing and probably not accurate. L Ascorbic Acid is vitamin C, and there is no difference I know of between anything called “natural vitamin C” and the chemical L ascorbic acid (L meaning it is the left-handed isomer). I generally agree that it is better to get vitamins from food rather than taking it in a pill. The reasons for this have to do with the body’s signals for absorption of these nutrients. Vitamin D has a very complex absorption process, so if you take a vitamin D pill, it may or may not be absorbed, depending on if your body is calling for it, or ready for it. The same is true of vitamin C – loading up on it probably does no good unless you are truly deficient. I had heard that overdosing on antioxidants can defeat your body’s cellular processes involving immunity.

    June 27th, 2014 12:19 am Reply
    • Maral

      I agree and would like to add that any study done with just the taking of ascorbic acid could cause those results that is why it is soooooooo important to take those high levels of ascorbic acid with fat. I highly recommend checking out herbsplusbeadworks on YouTube (Tony Panteleresco, Canadian herbalist), he just did a beautiful video on this. Sarah, thank you so much for all that you share I really appreciate it and put it all to good use! Blessings!

      June 28th, 2014 11:26 pm Reply
  • Elizabeth matthews

    Sarah, do you know anything about Liposomal C? My nutritionist put me on it…I get kidney stones and am worried that any kind of C might cause them…THanks!

    June 26th, 2014 10:37 pm Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Someone emailed me about this today … it is ascorbic acid, right?

      June 26th, 2014 11:18 pm Reply
  • Diane F

    I learned about this subject recently and I use Dr. Schulze’s Super C Plus because it is all made from real food sources. He also has a video explaining everything that Sarah has mentioned here.
    For people with oxalate problems, the vitamin C can turn into oxalates after eating and kidney stones are made up of oxalates.

    June 26th, 2014 11:59 am Reply
  • Donna

    I’d like to point out that the acerola recommended on your resources page is from NOW Foods and contains added maltodextrin (corn), ascorbic Acid, and does not say non-gmo. Do you actually use this product?

    June 26th, 2014 8:39 am Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      This is disappointing .. no I use Pure Radiance C which has no additives whatsoever and is ONLY true vitamin C complex. My resources page links into a different website that lists multiple sources/brands of pure Vitamin C complex. It is unfortanate that the NOW brand is on this page as well. It should be removed. Thanks for the heads up .. I will ask if the company that manages that page can take it off.

      June 26th, 2014 10:10 am Reply
      • Michele

        Can children take the pure radiance vitamins?? Thanks

        November 6th, 2014 3:13 pm Reply
  • Helen T

    Any thoughts on calcium ascorbate?

    June 26th, 2014 12:50 am Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      On the positive side, it’s not GMO which is very good. However, calcium ascorbate, like ascorbic acid, is a fractionated nutrient and not the entire Vitamin C complex. Not the ideal in my book. Here are the ingredients on the vitamin C I take:

      Pure Radiance C ingredients: camu camu berry extract, manioc root, acerola berry extract, amla berry extract, buckwheat berry sprouts, freeze-dried berry blend, blueberry, raspberry, cranberry, cherry, rose hips fruit, lemon peel, black pepper berry extract.

      This is Pure Radiance C … no isolated ascorbic acid, no additives. Just pure food Vitamin C sources.

      June 26th, 2014 10:22 am Reply
  • kelli

    I have to disagree, Sarah. The research of Pauling, Stone, Hoffer, and Riordan found high-dose vitamin c to be very affective against viral illness. Most mammals can make their own ascorbic acid but humans and guinea pigs lost the ability leaving them vulnerable to viral disease.

    Yes, healthy diet is very important but sometimes for preventive purposes and dealing with chronic disease supplementation is necessary.

    June 25th, 2014 6:25 pm Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Yes, but supplement with real vitamin C … the entire complex. Not one piece of it (ascorbic acid) synthetically derived, or worse GMO in most cases.

      June 25th, 2014 11:05 pm Reply
      • bianca

        people are overlooking the powerful word: COMPLEX

        June 26th, 2014 11:09 am Reply
        • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

          Exactly! Well considered comment Bianca.

          June 26th, 2014 11:19 am Reply
    • BIANCA

      the wisdom of nature is that it provides a synergy amongst all things…. isolating a single part disrupts the function and worthiness. Ascorbic acid is nothing but sugar. When I mentioned this to a naturopath many years ago he simply laughed and said what are you worried about? High doses of anything is unwise (unless in a dire temporary situation) because it disrupts the bodies natural ability and sometimes shuts it down. If one thinks about how things occur in nature, ie whole milk from cows (not skim or 2%) Vit. C COMPLEX from a single fruit, it is easy to realize the wisdom inherent in all things. Real food is best. Information is Transformation !

      June 26th, 2014 8:23 am Reply
  • Rita

    We use NutriBiotic Sodium Ascorbate. It’s Non GMO and you can take a large dose without any tummy issues to follow. Great article. I used synthetic Vit. C up until 2 years ago. I’m always open to change if anyone has found reasonable fault with NutriBiotic Sodium Ascorbate.

    June 25th, 2014 3:50 pm Reply
    • Tracey

      NutriBiotic Sodium Ascorbate has gotten me off my asthma inhaler. I’ve been on GAPS for over 2 years and was still needing to use a very small dose of a rescue inhaler several times a week when I decided to try high doses of the NutriBiotic Sodium Ascorbate. I had tried Acerola and Camu Camu in the past without any luck but this stuff did the trick. I had concerns about the high dosing but I would rather take my chances with this than use an inhaler and suffer the side effects and long term damage to my body. Maybe at this point after being on GAPS for so long the Acerola or Camu Camu would work but if not I’d way rather use the Sodium Ascorbate than an inhaler. Plus I figure I won’t need to do it forever once my body fully heals on GAPS.

      June 25th, 2014 10:49 pm Reply
      • Bonita

        Maybe you have histamine intolerance. I was on GAPs and taking the fermented cabbage juice. It resulted in me having to use my inhaler quite a bit. Best.

        December 3rd, 2014 2:04 pm Reply
      • Sue

        Tracey perhaps you might also like to consider a salt inhaler, it may be very beneficial. Cheers

        March 14th, 2015 6:09 pm Reply
  • Kira

    This is an ill-researched article and amounts to an ill-informed opinion piece. There are non-GMO ascorbic acid options available. This is irresponsible fear mongering I wouldn’t have expected from this blog. The molecule in L-ascorbic acid is exactly the same as the one you would make in your liver (like most all mammals) if you made it, which we don’t. There is nothing toxic about it. The link below has excellent research links – just ignore the vegetarian slant in the rest of the site.

    The RDA (Ridiculous Daily Allowance) for vitamin C is 50mg. There is no toxic, dangerous or damaging dose. 500 mg is not anywhere near a high dose. Humans do not make vit c in their livers like EVERY other mammal does, except for Guinea Pigs and primates. For optimum health in captivity, primates are given a maintenance dose of 12 GRAMS a day. Guinea pigs are used in research because they get all the diseases humans do. The chemically isolated form of vitamin c is exactly the same as the molecule produced in the liver. Linus Pauling (2 time Nobel prize winning biochemist) recommended buying the least expensive biochemically identical ascorbic acid you can find. I take a 30 gram maintenance dose daily, and up to 150 grams when I’m fighting a virus. I still get the virus, but not the symptoms.

    June 25th, 2014 12:06 pm Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      This article never claims that all ascorbic acid is GMO derived. Just that “most* is especially if not otherwise labeled. Moreover, ascorbic acid is only one part of the Vitamin C complex and hence consuming it alone in a synthetically created supplement is not consuming true Vitamin C as found in food or food based Vitamin C. It is consuming one piece of it which is not as effective and therefore requires dangerous high dosages.

      June 25th, 2014 12:44 pm Reply
      • bianca

        This is a very good response from Sarah. Very intelligent. Isolating a single nutrient seems to have become an American way of life. So sad. No magic bullets to be found anywhere out there….. ancient wisdom and the beauty and sustenance of nature itself should be pursued.

        June 26th, 2014 8:31 am Reply
        • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

          Indeed … this is why I NEVER take synthetic or fractionated vitamins like ascorbic acid in any form for any reason. Perhaps if I was extremely ill I might consider a high dose ascorbic acid IV … but never ascorbic acid for everyday use.

          June 26th, 2014 10:12 am Reply
        • Padma

          Don’t you understand that most mammals produce their own vitamin C? Humans don’t. Most 160-lb mammals produce 10-20g of vitamin C daily, and produce even more in times of illness or disease.

          Primates lost that ability due to a viral mutation circa 25 million ya.

          To consume 20g of vitamin C daily, you would need to eat almost 300 oranges!

          In times of acute disease (hepatitis, cancer), one would do well to consume 200g vitamin C daily to cure serious “incurable” diseases. To consume 200g of vitamin C, you would need to eat 3000 oranges daily!!!!

          3000 oranges!!!!!!!

          July 9th, 2014 1:55 pm Reply
          • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

            Here’s the point: if its real vitamin C you don’t need anywhere close to 20g … you don’t even need 1 gram. My REAL vitamin C supplement is only about 120 mg for 1/4 tsp which is plenty.

            July 9th, 2014 3:36 pm
        • Tera

          Any vitamin C supplement is still an isolated single nutrient, whether the source is natural or synthetic. It’s still better to eat the whole foods that contain the vitamin C and other nutrients.

          April 22nd, 2015 12:20 pm Reply
      • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

        I think the criticism is very much warranted … ascorbic acid is not true Vitamin C and many people are being fooled into thinking it is. Worse, the ascorbic acid they are taking is usually GMO! There are three studies which point to the dangers of high dose ascorbic acid … one of which is thickening of the arterial walls (precursor to heart disease) so your claims of no/low risk are off base with all due respect.

        June 26th, 2014 10:15 am Reply
        • Tera

          My other comment goes into this in more detail, but I think it’s worth clarifying:

          Vitamin C is Ascorbic Acid, but not all Ascorbic Acid is Vitamin C.
          It’s the same as all squares are rectangles but not all rectangles are squares.

          So it’s not that Ascorbic Acid isn’t real Vitamin C, it’s that Ascorbic Acid isn’t PURE vitamin C. It’s Vitamin C (L-Ascorbic Acid) + D-Ascorbic Acid. There is still real vitamin C in there.

          The reason you need less of what you refered to as “real vitamin C” is because it contains only the Vitamin C not the mirror image form of the molecule.

          As for negative health effects:

          There is no/low risk if a person is healthy. Things like thicking of the arterial walls aren’t caused by the ascorbic acid, they cause by other health problems causing the filtration of excess ascorbic acid to not occur properly. Most people aren’t really fully healthy even when they seem to be.

          These things will still occur if you take too high a dose of pure Vitamin C as well because that filtration is still impaired. It’s just going to take more pure vitamin C to reach that concerning excess level of ascorbic acid then it will with a mixed ascorbic acid. (Cause mixed has forms that can’t be used by the body.)

          April 22nd, 2015 12:15 pm Reply
      • Tera

        I think what tripping people up here is organic chemistry:

        L-Ascorbic Acid isn’t a piece of vitamin C, it’s just the scientifc name of the actual vitamin C molecule. A natural “Vitamin C complex” likely contains L-Ascorbic Acid (reduced form), L-Ascorbate (the ionized form), and L-dehydroascorbic acid (oxidised form). A synthetic vitamin C is these same things but are D instead of L.

        Reduced doesn’t mean it is lessened. It refers to just the placement of one Hydrogen atom on the molecule as part of redox chemistry: Reduction reaction = loss of one electron. Oxidation reaction = gain of one electron. The difference between these molecules is literally one electron. Ascorbic Acid has a single bonded OH group. Dehydroxyascorbic Acid has a double bonded O because the Hydrogen molecule (with it’s one proton) has been removed. Ascorbate is basically the transition state between these where the second bond from isn’t formed to either the H (Asocbic acid, forming OH) or the carbon atom it is attached to on the carbon ring of the molecule (making the double bond). Thus Ascorbate has a small – charge.

        Here is the thing though: These reactions all occur spontaneously at any given time. It’s not really possible to have “pure ascorbic acid” because the molecules are going to be constantly exchanging those electrons and shifting back and forth from Ascorbic Acid to Dehydroxyascorbic Acid unless there is some other molecule in the mix to buffer it and slow this reaction.

        So even if something is labelled as ascorbic acid it is still going to contain all three forms. That’s basic chemistry. When it says “ascorbic acid” as an additive on a label thats what form they added but chemical reactions are constantly occuring in your food and in your body. Nothing is one static form.

        So what the real concern is:
        No matter what the label says, you are never going to have 100% pure ascorbic acid/ascorbate/vitamin C. There is going to be trace amounts of other molecules from it’s source. This is the problem with most commercial products having stuff sourced from corn when it comes to corn allergies. Same thing with those “vitamin c complex” supplecments. What you are actually getting is not “complete vitamin c” versus “one part of vitamin c”. What you are getting is vitamin C + other molectules from the fruits that vitamin C is sourced from. Likely a lot of other antioxidents and phytochemicals.

        So what’s the concern with “ascorbic acid”?
        Nothing really. The concern is D-ascorbic acid, D-Ascorbate and D-dehydoascorbic acid. The L-form is bioactive (meaning its good for you and does what it is supposed to). The D-form is active as an antioxident (which is why it is added to a lot of foods, to prevent spoilage. ie: stops apples from browning etc.) and it won’t actually harm you, but it does nothing for the other health benefits of vitamin C. It’s not helpful for the enzymatic reactions that ascorbic acid is needed for in the body. Basically because it doesn’t fit.

        A quick lesson in enantomers:
        – Carbon atom had 4 spots where things can bond to them.
        – When all 4 things that bind are the same thing, there is no problem.
        – When some of the 4 things are different, such is the case here. You get 2 possible molecules which are mirror images of eachother. Kinda like if you were to take a puzzle piece and flip it over. It’s not going to fit in the hole in the puzzle that way. It’s still the same shape, but not the right direction. That’s what happens with molecules.

        Ascorbic Acid vs Ascorbate vs Dehydoascorbate => not a big deal. Little electrons can easily move around. Will make no difference in your body because they can all convert from one to another. They are all really the same molecule which is Vitamin C.

        L-form of these (natural) vs D-form of these (synthetic) => IS a big deal because D-form aren’t the right shape to fit the receptors that need the Vitamin C. Thus D-form is not really vitamin C. It’s a mirror image of vitamin C.

        Think of it like your feet. Your left foot is Vitamin C. Your right foot looks like like your left, they both feet but your right foot isn’t going to fit properly in your left shoe. Your right foot of your left foot. It’s not vitamin C. It’s synthetic ascorbate/ascorbic acid. (think of the difference between that as whether or not it has a sock).

        So what does this all mean in terms of your article?

        – Everywhere you refer to ascorbic acid, you actually D-ascorbic acid.
        – Ascorbic Acid on food labels often is synthetic D-form but sometimes it’s not, there is no way to tell unless the product label tells you a source. (such as “ascorbic acid (from oranges)” or something.)
        – All Vitamin C supplements are a complex of Ascorbic Acid, Ascorbate, and Dehydoascorbic Acid whether they are synthetic or natural and whether they say Vitamin C or just Ascorbic Acid.
        – Synthetic Supplements are going to be a mix of L-form and D-form. So they are still effective but you need more to have the beneficial effect. (Because there is no way to produce just one forrm in an artifical synthesis process. You will always get both.
        – Natural Sourced Supplements are going to be only L-form so a much lower dose will be very effective because you aren’t getting any of that useless mirror image form that just adds empty bulk.

        D-Ascorbic Acid isn’t harmful to you. You’ll pee out what your body can’t use. It’s still a good antioxident, which is still beneficial to you in other ways. It’s just not going to help any of that enzyme activity that boost your immune system.

        So natural sources of Vitamin C are basically just more concentrated and thus more effective. If you mega dose a generic brand you will get the same effect. There just might be more concern of other trace contaminants.

        Also I should note, the sodium ascorbate is the salt form of ascorbic acid/vitamin C. The little left over negative charge I talked about earlier? Well molecules don’t like to stay charged for long and will always look for something to bind to. If it’s not an H to reform Ascorbic Acid or a C to double bond and form dehydoascorbic acid, sometimes that little oxygen atom likes will find a positively charge ion floating about (like you have in water or the air sometimes) and bind to an Na (sodium) or a K (potassium). That’s all that is.

        Once again what matters if that’s the L-form ascorbate or the D-form. The potassium or sodium isn’t a concern cause those are ions that your body has zillions of everywhere and needs and your unless you have some big health problem going on your kidneys generally filter out whatever excess you have into your pee. (If there is something else going on in your body that’s out of wack producing an excess of some other ion, that’s when stuff like kidney stones will form. It’s not from having excess of intake ascorbic acid or something else. It’s from something internally wrong in your body causing the excess to not be excreated how it normally would be. Some other system is out of wack, possibly because you are defincient in something. Vitamin C is water soluble (and it’s mirror image too) so it’s never going to build up in your body and cause harm unless something else isn’t working right and basically trapping it.)

        This has been your chemistry 101 lesson for the day. Hopefully I explained it all in a way that makes sense to anyone without a chemistry background and that it clears up any misunderstanding and inaccuracies from the article and it’s comments 😉

        Now I’m off to see if I can find the answer to what lead me here in the first place:
        What is added to products labelled “Buffered Vitamin C Powder” or “Buffered Ascorbic Acid Powder”. I need the powder for chemistry reasons not nutritional so L-form or D-form makes no difference to my needs, I’m looking for antioxident effect. I just need to know what that buffer is and if it’s going to affect the reaction I need with silver halide. (I’m making some film developer.) If anyone knows the cheapest source for vitamin C powder (nutritional quality not mattering) in Canada, let me know. :)

        April 22nd, 2015 12:04 pm Reply
    • Gary

      The name ascorbic acid betrays the prejudice in our understanding of Vitamin C. The RDA is based on preventing scurvy. Like it is not possible it has many more subtle roles to play in the body. More telling is the natural production of vitamin C by all the mammals that make it naturally. They range for a healthy individual from 50 to 200 mg per kilogram of body weight per day. Even at the low end 50 mg x 70 Kg (155 pounds person) would naturally synthesize 3500mg a day. Under stress from disease or injury that number skyrockets by at least an order of magnitude. Will you get sick and die in short order if you don’t have 5 or 10 grams of C per day, no not likely. But the long term effects of decades of chronic shortage are totally overlooked. And the only animals that we know of that get coronary artery disease like people: great apes and guinea pigs coincidentally the only animals that like humans are missing the complete enzyme pathway to synthesize their bodies requirements.

      May 29th, 2015 12:20 am Reply
  • Jordan

    L abscorbic acid IS found in nature and is also the most common supplement form of the vitamin. In fact, it’s the most prominent form of the vitamin found in both rose hips and hiniscus, making up more than 70% of total abscorbates.

    June 24th, 2014 11:34 am Reply
    • Jordan

      Typing on my phone… I meant to say ascorbic and hibiscus not abscorbic and hiniscus

      June 24th, 2014 11:37 am Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      The point you’re missing is that ascorbic acid is only one component of the vitamin C complex and more, it is synthetically derived and GMO for the vast majority of Vitamin C supplements on the market.

      June 25th, 2014 12:41 pm Reply
      • Padma

        Guess what? You are probably a GMO product of ancient aliens who came and modified the local monkeys.

        Monsatan gave all GM tech a bad name with things like terminator-, BT-, and glyphosate-resistant- genes, evil science with profit as its motive.

        Genetically modified bacteria is a totally different game – they are designed to produce specific molecules which are finally thoroughly purified into a pure form. i.e., there is no residual DNA, no glyphosate, and no chemicals beyond an amount of ppb equal to that found in organic green tea.

        July 9th, 2014 1:59 pm Reply
  • Gene Wojcik

    I found a whole food vitamin c. My family has been using it for the past 3 years. I have 3 children and it is there favorite treat in the morning. We think it tastes like a pixie stick. The vitamin c is called Real C and you can get it from there website. The whole food vitamin c is in a powder form. it is made from acerola cherries, black currents, oranges and grapefruit juice.

    February 13th, 2014 6:10 am Reply
  • M. Mavor

    Please go to the link below to read the facts (just updated two month ago) about different forms of vitamin C from the Linus Pauling Institute:

    Many of the suggestions by the author and the readers are good, but some are just wrong. Whole food can be good, except for our present-day depleted soil. Thus supplementation with various vitamins is essential to optimum health and longevity. Look for organic supplements free of preservatives, GMO, additives, and allergens, such as those from NUTRIGOLD.

    January 30th, 2014 1:25 pm Reply
    • Dr B

      This author’s comments are biased and misleading bordering on logical fallacy. Many of us integrative medicine physicians have spent our lives researching and applying the scientific method to clinical practice and have can you please verify to me when and where you received your PhD, ND, DC, or MD degree and what biochemistry rubrics have you applied to justify these assertions?

      The data points you are using to solidify your argument are industry backed sham research articles my dear.

      Anyone on this board interested in the truth should simply ask Dr. Russel Jaffe MD, PhD what he thinks.

      February 11th, 2014 8:28 pm Reply
      • Dr. B

        I mean to reference the original author of this article and NOT M. Mavor.

        February 11th, 2014 8:30 pm Reply
        • Jax

          Doctors are never wrong 😀

          June 24th, 2014 5:01 pm Reply
  • Lol

    God, how uneducated can people be..

    January 16th, 2014 2:41 pm Reply

    I was going to take Milk Thistle to help my liver but I noticed on the label that it contains Ascorbic Acid so I discontinued it. Disapointed because I wanted to clean my liver and hoped to get rid of liver spots and moles on my face and body. I know I should be eating whole foods but I wanted to supplement it as well.

    January 2nd, 2014 4:40 am Reply
    • Dr. B

      I suggest you refrain from following this blogger and seek the advice of a qualified integrative medicine doctor who specializes in functional medicine…

      Yes please take the milk thistle, better if you tincture a brew out of it even.

      February 11th, 2014 8:32 pm Reply
  • Rj

    Are you not interchanging real vit c with synthetic when you say that the vit c flush is not good or causes kidney stones or is it just that Vit c promotes aluminum absorption which is bad if you have kidney issues. It really makes me Furious beyond all reason that false advertising is supported and even promoted by our fed gov along with the false security they promote by outlawing natural resources.

    December 9th, 2013 10:23 am Reply
  • collen

    I have always heard that sodium ascorbate was a much better and absorbent form of vitamin c – is it also artificial?

    December 8th, 2013 12:35 pm Reply
  • Kristie

    What about rose hips? Is a rose hip infusion an adequate source of vitamin c?

    November 21st, 2013 9:07 pm Reply
  • Chris

    In “The Healing Factor Vitamin C Against Disease” Irwin Stone explained very well why do we need to take vitamin C.

    November 18th, 2013 7:45 pm Reply
  • karen

    SsssYou are absolutely right! Doctor or not. All vitamin isolates such as ascorbic acid are artificially produced. Please refer your readers to a web site http://www.the doctor within. It tells people the truth as written by ROYAL LEE. ALSO,vitamins should be from organic sources. There are too many genetically modified foods.

    November 7th, 2013 1:52 pm Reply
  • JohnnyWhite

    No one mentioned the raw milk. For many peep that’s worse than ascorbate forms of ascorbic acid. There are, BTW, non GMO ascorbates available. and for alternative views on C look up Tom Levy, or Russell Jaffe on Youtube. They talk about therapeutic use, not necessarily daily use of C. For another natural C Paradise Herbs sells a good one (low dose). Live long and prosper \ //

    November 7th, 2013 11:20 am Reply
  • Peter

    Hi there.

    I’m currently searching for a reliable source of Vitamin C for industrial use.
    I found the company McBoeck , but never heard about them before.
    Does anyone know this company? As far as I know they are specialized in Ascorbic Acid and its salts.

    October 25th, 2013 9:33 am Reply
  • ортомол витамины витрум пренатал

    витамины в рыбе

    October 17th, 2013 11:46 am Reply
  • Michael

    So, I happened onto this blog post while looking for something else (not really related to this topic) but the title piqued my interest. Ascorbic acid, in general, IS naturally occurring, so in your main premise here is patently false. There is a form of ascorbic acid that is not naturally occurring called “D-ascorbic acid” but that compound is rarely used in foods because it’s, frankly, it’s more expensive to get and has been found to have substantively less metabolic value as a supplement over the much easier to obtain, and NATURALLY OCCURRING, form L-ascorbic acid (or more commonly ascorbate or, even more commonly: Vitamin C).

    So, while I think your underlying point here of avoiding synthetic compounds and instead relying on naturally occurring sources for nutrition is great, I think it’s also important to understand what you’re saying, especially if there’s a scientific basis, before making sensational (and inaccurate) statements like Ascorbic Acid is not Vitamin C” It’s like saying prayer works better than vaccines to prevent disease… but that’s a whole OTHER topic.

    October 15th, 2013 12:31 pm Reply
  • Fina

    I have a degree in natural nutrition, and stumbled across this blog. To offset the immediate hysteria of discontinuing Ascorbic Acid, in favor of “natural” vitamin C, I’d like to add my bit.

    DAILY high mega doses of ANY vitamin is never a good idea (synthetic or natural), especially in an otherwise healthy person, as it puts other vitamins and nutrients out of balance in your body. Good health is greatly dependent on keeping the body in balance. That’s why a well-rounded diet of whole foods is recommended for daily PREVENTION of disease and good health.

    It is true that eating healthy foods is always the best way to get your vitamins and minerals. However, for THERAPEUTIC and HEALING times of acute illness, infection, or depressed immune system….*temporary* high use of Ascorbic Acid is not only just fine, it is encouraged.

    October 8th, 2013 3:34 am Reply
  • Ashley

    I *finally* figured out that synthetic vitamin C gives me bloating and diarrhea/loose stool. I’ve had it almost every day for months! I finally tested it a few times and yes, OJ/vitamin C supplement/juice purees etc., the next morning I can tell. If I avoid them, everything is perfectly normal! My body is rejecting the stuff.

    September 24th, 2013 10:02 am Reply
    • Mike

      I get the feeling like I want to go to the bathroom too after I take vitamin c pill. I also get a bad taste in my stomach and mouth even if I take it with food for 4 hours. Now that I changed to natural vitamin c I don’t feel any of these, even if I take it on an empty stomach

      December 9th, 2014 1:39 am Reply
  • Barbara

    My body is sensitive to Vitamin C to the extent that I have an asthma attack
    and completely congestion and can not breathe.
    If I stay away from acetic acid then my sense of smell comes back
    and I don’t have trouble breathing.

    July 2nd, 2013 11:52 am Reply
    • Tracey

      It could be that the Vit C you’re using is a derivative of corn and you may have an allergy to corn. I was able to get off my inhaler thanks to high dosages of NutriBiotic Ascorbate Acid in combo with the GAPS diet. But I am only high dosing as I am healing my body of 40+ years of asthma and found nothing else that could replace my inhaler.

      June 25th, 2014 10:59 pm Reply
  • Bee

    What about the tapioca-derived vit c?

    May 23rd, 2013 8:22 pm Reply
  • Gingi

    Any thoughts on vitamin c as calcium ascorbate? Rainbow Light’s Buffered vitamin c powder contains this version.

    May 11th, 2013 10:48 pm Reply
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  • wisdom, wine and wild daffodils via Facebook

    Overall, I like this article, the information within and the discussion it has provoked, and agree that wholefood-sourced nutrients and co-factors are always best from a general every-day health perspective outside a clinical setting. But, I become uncomfortable when comparing isolated vitamin C (synthetic or otherwise) to a drug – even to say its effects are ‘drug-like’. I feel we already have a challenge on our hands to prevent Big Pharma controlling the supplement market and lobbying government for classification of such supplements as drugs to become prescription-only and thus dominated by government and industry. Please let’s be very careful how we language this.

    August 27th, 2012 7:11 am Reply
  • Nancy

    What about Ester C? It has calcium ascorbate. Does that metabolize as ascorbic acid?

    August 27th, 2012 1:28 am Reply
  • Heather Valtee via Facebook

    Much of the ascorbic acid used in US is derived from CORN. Estimates of GM corn in US = 75%. (Personally, I’m intolerant to corn, so one more ingredient to avoid, for me, for sure!)

    August 26th, 2012 1:44 pm Reply
  • Granny’s Vital Vittles via Facebook

    It is a GM product, for the most part. I sometimes take ascorbic acid when I happen to catch a cold or flu … I agree that it should be treated as a medical intervention, and not as a daily supplement. Camu or Acerola is far better if you’d like to take a daily supplement. As a medical intervention it’s far, far less risky than pharmaceuticals.

    August 26th, 2012 9:39 am Reply
  • Nat Leighton via Facebook

    and I read in another article is a GM product….

    August 26th, 2012 5:39 am Reply
  • Purplefireweed

    Food for thought.Can you please post the link to the Wise Traditions article you cite? I could not find an article about Vitamin C in the Winter 2009 edition posted online. Thank you in advance.

    It seems like megadose therapy and the form of Vitamin C used are mashed up here. Megadose vitamin therapy for cancers and other ailments has been used successfully utilized for a long time. Orthomolecular medicine draws in part from Linus Pauling’s work and has had an incredible life-giving impact on my own health.

    Let’s get definitions straight. “Vitamin C or L-ascorbic acid, or simply ascorbate (the anion of ascorbic acid), is an essential nutrient for humans and certain other animal species. Vitamin C refers to a number of vitamers that have vitamin C activity in animals, including ascorbic acid and its salts, and some oxidized forms of the molecule like dehydroascorbic acid. Ascorbate and ascorbic acid are both naturally present in the body when either of these is introduced into cells, since the forms interconvert according to pH.”

    From Wikipedia: “Ascorbic acid is a naturally occurring organic compound with antioxidant properties. It is a white solid, but impure samples can appear yellowish. It dissolves well in water to give mildly acidic solutions. Ascorbic acid is one form (“vitamer”) of vitamin C. It was originally called L-hexuronic acid, but when it was found to have vitamin C activity in animals (“vitamin C” being defined as a vitamin activity, not then a specific substance), the suggestion was made to rename L-hexuronic acid. The new name for L-hexuronic acid is derived from a- (meaning “no”) and scorbutus (scurvy), the disease caused by a deficiency of vitamin C. Because it is derived from glucose, many animals are able to produce it, but humans require it as part of their nutrition.

    The name vitamin C always refers to the L-enantiomer of ascorbic acid and its oxidized forms. The opposite D-enantiomer called D-ascorbate has equal antioxidant power, but is not found in nature, and has no physiological significance.”

    So, vitamin C = ascorbic acid. D-ascorbate is synthesized and unnatural, so stay away from it. What we need to be aware of is that since the 90s, production of most of the world’s vitamin c uses a genetically modified microbe in the process. Prior to that, an acetone-based conversion method called the Reichstein process was utilized. The modern method is actually more of a biological process than the old one, albeit one of the microbes utilized has been genetically modified.

    You’ll have to make up your mind on that one. I’m ardently anti-GMO, yet I know that not a single person in this discussion is GMO-free unless you’ve been living a sheltered life away from all human activity. That said, it makes sense to look at your products carefully. Many supplements are filled with unnecessary and potentially harmful fillers and allergens.

    I have used Emergen-C for years. I just looked at the two flavors I have on hand and found zero aspartame; the aspartic acid listed is an amino acid that is found naturally in many foods, as well as used in the manufacture of aspartame. You can read more about ingredients and manufacturing here:

    Another form of vitamin C to consider is calcium ascorbate. Because of its chelating action, vitamin C can leach calcium and other minerals, not a great side effect. Taking it with calcium is recommended, as they help in each other’s absorption. This form is used for elderly, young, athletes and the ailing because it’s more readily absorbed due to its alkalinity.

    Food is definitely our best medicine–the cleaner and closest to natural form being the most desirable, of course. But if you need supplementation due to chronic or acute illness, be sure to educate yourself on the source, form, ingredients, and the manufacturing process. If you have access to affordable camu camu, rosehips or any of a plethora of other nutritious superfoods, they are your best high-power supplementation. If not, probe those bottles of pills and powders carefully.

    August 26th, 2012 4:13 am Reply
  • Victoria Helwig via Facebook

    I think you just need to look for a trusted brand. I’ve seen over the last ten years the exponential growth of maybe thousands of supposedly vit. c supplement that come in various forms, e.g., pill, powdered, chewable, gum, etc. Feeling a bit overwhelmed, I thought it was incredulous. I once tried one of these instant powder vit. c drink in a packet. I had diarrhea for three days. It was supposed to get rid of toxins but not for three days straight. And yes, I read an article about fake ones. So be very careful as probably most of those vit. c supplements don’t really deliver what they promise.

    August 26th, 2012 12:32 am Reply
  • Camille McCausland via Facebook

    August 25th, 2012 6:42 pm Reply
  • Camille McCausland via Facebook

    Interesting. I’ve been using Emergen-C for years. Never really knew the difference between ascorbic acid and natural Vitamin C. Thanks for sharing this! Here’s a helpful article on this topic. The product that’s highlighted looks very good.

    August 25th, 2012 6:41 pm Reply
  • François Tremblay via Facebook

    Nice article, but many many doctors used vitamin C to treat many illnesses like infections or even cancer. Linus Pauling a great scientific recommended many grams of vitamin C every day… I think you need to take this into consideration and not make your whole point of view with some studies that has been done mentioned in your article. I’m not saying those studies are not important, but there are a lot showing the goodness of high dose of vitamin C. Here is a very good article about vitamin C and its effectiveness

    August 25th, 2012 5:33 pm Reply
  • Lisa Carpenter via Facebook

    When I had poison ivy, the MD with ‘training in medicine’ sold me steroids. Yup. The regular ‘person’ recommended Zanfel, the cure. Strange, I know, but the information was better from the alternative source.

    August 25th, 2012 5:27 pm Reply
  • RadiantLux

    I have been reading the newsletter from Orthomolecular Journal for a few years now. The trouble with “mainstream” medical studies on vitamins is that they truly intend to prove vitamins are dangerous so we can trust pharmaceuticals instead. The two sources you cite do not indicate a true alarm just yet, in my mind. I trust the science in the WAPF journal, but not the AHA. The WAPF article said “may contribute”, so it is not established as a cause. Correlation does not equal causation.
    The comments mention kidney issues from vitamin C. There is no proof in the medical literature. It is a rumor. By the way Emergen-C has 6 g of sugar in each packet. Maybe the issue isn’t the vitamin in there, it is the fructose.
    There were researchers in the 1940’s and earlier which published medical papers on how to cure cancer and other diseases with vitamin C. Specific protocols were outlined. Now that I follow a more whole foods approach to health, I can see your point. The scientists that are still studying vitamins and using megadoses to cure are using them in an allopathic way. I prefer a more holistic approach. However, vitamins are infinitely safer than drugs and they are just as or more effective. Niacin megadosing has been shown to manage symptoms of schizophrenia. Perhaps that means that people who suffer this mental illness have vitamin absorption issues. (I am aware of the GAPS diet, etc…) How much safer is niacin compared with the concoction mental patients are normally prescribed?
    I have done an ascorbic flush and will continue to use this approach. I have found it very effective for the onset of colds and the management of cold symptoms without side effects. The ascorbic flush can also be used as a detox protocol.
    Don’t believe me. Check it out yourself and (on the latter one, I ignore the vegetarian advice).

    August 25th, 2012 5:21 pm Reply
  • Tiffany Thompson via Facebook

    NOW brand uses GMO corn for their Vit C. I was furious when I found out. I refuse to buy any of their products.

    August 25th, 2012 4:42 pm Reply
  • Lisa Olson via Facebook

    I’d like to research this more. I’m not fully sold on her opinion. There is a lot of information out there as well about high doses of vitamin C being fabulous for many forms of healing, including cancer. Perhaps daily use or recreational use is suspect, but I’m not fully convinced about mega-dosing for illness. (See: and the film Food Matters)

    August 25th, 2012 4:39 pm Reply
  • Theresa Wood via Facebook

    thehealthyhomeeconomist @MaryK and Stephanie sniff, sniff oh stop. You’ve hurt my feelings. NOT! : enough said I think

    August 25th, 2012 4:07 pm Reply
  • Melissa Noble Hemness via Facebook

    People have become so mean online… Just because you’re at your computer, doesn’t mean that it’s okay not to use common decency. It is a beautiful world where we can disagree on something and not insult the person. Thank you Sarah for your opinion on vitamin c. Also, I sometimes don’t agree with you:) I imagine you wouldn’t agree with everything I believe; and I’m sure would not put me down for it.

    August 25th, 2012 3:55 pm Reply
  • Meghan Kellison via Facebook

    Many, including the emergen-c packets contain artificial sweeteners as well. Synthetic vitamin c and aspartame? No thanks.

    August 25th, 2012 3:37 pm Reply
  • Damian Keierleber via Facebook

    Thanks for the tip Amy.

    August 25th, 2012 3:06 pm Reply
  • Theresa Wood via Facebook

    Gosh, thehealtyhomeeconomist – I don’t think anyone is trying to hurt your feelings : however you could be hurting someone by this post. Wake up my lady and stop talking from your EGO

    August 25th, 2012 2:48 pm Reply
  • Amy Davis via Facebook

    Hadn’t heard of IV therapy for cosmetic reasons! The dentist used it on me after doing some major work, though, and I do think it helped, but who knows?

    August 25th, 2012 2:48 pm Reply
  • Amy Davis via Facebook

    I would probably consider anyone eating SAD under dire circumstances! lol!

    August 25th, 2012 2:47 pm Reply
  • thehealthyhomeeconomist via Facebook

    @MaryK and Stephanie sniff, sniff oh stop. You’ve hurt my feelings. NOT!

    August 25th, 2012 2:43 pm Reply
  • Theresa Wood via Facebook

    I was reading about synthetic vitamins yesterday and have stopped my vitamins immediately! Juice an orange :-)

    August 25th, 2012 2:43 pm Reply
  • thehealthyhomeeconomist via Facebook

    Vitamin C therapy under certain dire circumstances is fine as ascorbic acid – being synthetic is actually a drug anyway in my opinion. Using drugs under certain conditions of serious illness is fine. Now, I don’t agree with these folks who are addicted to the Vitamin C intravenous therapy just for the cosmetic benefits for example.

    August 25th, 2012 2:41 pm Reply
  • Stephanie Renee Peña via Facebook

    MaryK my husband and were just talking about this!!! thehealthyhomeeconomist is just another person with no training in medicine, natural or western. #annoying!

    August 25th, 2012 2:34 pm Reply
  • Amy Davis via Facebook

    Didn’t Linus Pauling use ascorbic acid?

    August 25th, 2012 2:33 pm Reply
  • MaryK Martin Geyer via Facebook

    I’m disappointed with this specific blog. I think it’s not well researched and while I realize that this is a personal blog, I’m hugely disappointed that readers may not understand that this is a lay person writing it and not someone who is trained to objectively assess data, or has a deep understanding of the body and it’s biochemical functions. For every study stating the concerns of vitamins, there are 10 more that state the opposite, vitamin C included. And those “whole food” vitamins people are taking are not regulated, not standardized, and many of those companies do not have proper quality assurance measures. I agree that food is always the best (and should b the first) medicine, but we also have to consider how depleted our soil is when considering foods (and whole foods vitamins, which are not often whole food at all) as the single source, along with pesticides and other growing practices.

    August 25th, 2012 2:23 pm Reply
  • Mary Schaefer Shellenbergar via Facebook

    I did NOT know that…ugh and thanks!

    August 25th, 2012 2:19 pm Reply
  • Adrianne Garcia via Facebook

    What about the vit C therapy during whooping cough?

    August 25th, 2012 2:12 pm Reply
    • Karen

      We used vitamin c aka ascorbic acid this past winter to treat our daughter’s whooping cough. We had tried everything from broth, lemon juice syrup w/ honey, spices, essential oils – everything except traditional medicine. She was getting worse and vomited every time she coughed. Within 24 hours of starting the AA she was markedly better and in 2 days a different child. There are some great articles on line about the benefits of vitamin c therapy for treating whooping cough.

      August 25th, 2012 4:40 pm Reply
      • Carrie

        Dr Suzanne Humphries recommends powdered sodium ascorbate, not ascorbic acid, for whooping cough. We have been using it for our wc with great results. Available from

        March 21st, 2013 2:28 pm Reply
        • Tracey

          We too used it for Whooping cough with great results. My daughter was feeling so much better within 24 hours of starting Dr. Humphries protocol.

          June 25th, 2014 11:08 pm Reply
  • Real Food Whole Health via Facebook

    True Vitamin C is great, Pat, synthetic ascorbic acid- not so much. Work on getting full spectrum Vitamin C from food sources (amla berry, camu camu, etc) with associated bioflavonoids, etc.

    August 25th, 2012 2:11 pm Reply
  • My Healthy Green Family

    Often made in China. So who knows how pure it is either. I only trust my homemade, homegrown juice…

    August 25th, 2012 2:05 pm Reply
  • Pat Fenn via Facebook

    So glad to read this. I had read in several places how Vit C heals your heart and I wanted to get off the meds I’m on. I started taking 1-2,000 mg of Vit C like I had read. Guess I won’t do that any more! Thanks so much!

    August 25th, 2012 1:47 pm Reply
    • Linore

      Please read all the other comments before you discontinue the vitamin! There’s so much more to take into consideration than what was covered in the post.

      June 25th, 2014 4:31 pm Reply
  • Mickie Brown via Facebook

    Sarah James – my husband is training for a half Iron Man and he drinks kombucha. It’s made a world of difference for him and he tries to tell everyone he can. I brew about four gallons at a time for my family – he ends up with most of it.

    August 25th, 2012 1:41 pm Reply
  • Dee DenBoer-Jewell via Facebook

    Read how iron supplements are made. Scary!

    August 25th, 2012 1:40 pm Reply
  • Dee DenBoer-Jewell via Facebook

    When vitamins and minerals were discovered it seems the first thing they did was try to remove them from real food and put them in stuff. Just eat real food.

    August 25th, 2012 1:39 pm Reply
  • Anne-Marie

    Sigh. Nothing like a good little wake-up call to remind me that despite all of my efforts – I can’t get lazy. How it never occurred to me that Emergen-C was artificial is beyond me. What the heck was I thinking! Granted, I haven’t used it in ages because I haven’t been sick in ages, but the second I feel a cold coming on, I typically down a glass of water with that mixed in. BAH! Into the trash it goes. Thanks Sarah!

    August 25th, 2012 1:10 pm Reply
  • Roxanna Farnsworth via Facebook

    sorry, N.P’s would get this information!!!

    August 25th, 2012 1:08 pm Reply
  • Roxanna Farnsworth via Facebook

    super allergic/sensitive to synthetic C, always have been… interesting that I’ve been craving raw milk since I was sick, our bodies are smart! Wish more N.P

    August 25th, 2012 1:08 pm Reply
  • Penny Sp via Facebook

    I wonder if this is ok…?

    August 25th, 2012 1:07 pm Reply
  • Gal En via Facebook

    So, is this article written by a 4 year old or is it just very smart advertising for whole foods?

    August 25th, 2012 1:03 pm Reply
  • Kate @ Modern Alternative Mama

    I like to add rosehips to any herbal preparations if we are sick. Otherwise we just eat the real food. :)

    August 25th, 2012 1:00 pm Reply
  • Janae

    I’m fairly new to your blog but am delighted and overwhelmed by the sheer volume of useful knowledge here on nutrition and wellness. I’m disappointed to find out about the vitamin C packets. I have used them as a substitute for when I crave a soda or when I need a boost but so glad to know they aren’t all they are cracked up to be.

    August 25th, 2012 12:57 pm Reply
  • Joe Archuleta via Facebook

    a good healthy diet promoting a natural high is the best!

    August 25th, 2012 12:55 pm Reply
  • Alicia Redden

    I’ve started taking Camu Camu. Natural HUGE doses of Vit C. Makes you feel great!!! IT offers advantages other than just Vit C as well.

    August 25th, 2012 12:54 pm Reply
  • Creative Christian Mama via Facebook

    I’ve tried and tried to convince even my most naturally-minded friends that synthetic vitamin C is harmful to health. I encourage rose hips (capsules and tea) and eating high vitamin C organic foods, such as bell peppers, dark leafy greens, kiwis, oranges and strawberries. Thanks so much for bringing this to people’s attention! :-)

    August 25th, 2012 12:52 pm Reply
  • Alysia McCausland Humphries via Facebook

    the Emergen C drink helps me get rid of colds and sickness quickly and feel better. Is that synthetic? Whatever it is feels good and works well and I haven’t seen bad side effects yet. Interested to learn more though.

    August 25th, 2012 12:50 pm Reply
  • Alicia Jimenez via Facebook

    I knew an article on ascorbic acid would eventually come out. Thank you. :(((

    August 25th, 2012 12:49 pm Reply
  • LYM

    Actually, mega-dosing vitamin C *does* boost immunity, but that doesn’t make it a good idea as a habit. Since we learned about it, we have ended tons of tooth, breast, & UT infections in our house and among friends, although our primary strategy, of course, is to prevent these through superb nutrition. There is no doubt the mega-C doses work.

    BUT – I have never thought anyone should take synthetic C daily, and I am always looking for information about how much *real* C it takes to megadose. I know you wouldn’t need 20,000mg of C if you used acerola, but how much would you need? I don’t know, b/c I only ever try C when there’s an acute infection, and at those times, I don’t want to play around waiting to get well; I want the infection gone. I keep meaning to do a systematic experiment where I find out exactly how much camu-camu or acerola it takes to do the same thing, or at least to reach bowel tolerance, but I haven’t had the chance to yet.

    I’d love to find out if there is anyone out there who has. Never will I give up C and go back to antibiotics instead, but I would far rather use natural C. Would it take just 100mg natural C for every 1000mg synthetic? I just don’t know.

    August 25th, 2012 12:48 pm Reply
  • Tennille

    this sucks. more money down the drain. Oh well!

    August 25th, 2012 12:45 pm Reply
  • yissell

    Sarah, Do you trust Amway products? This Nutrilite chewable acerola only place I can find it is on Amway, but I’m not quite sure about reputation of this company. Any suggestions?

    August 25th, 2012 12:40 pm Reply
  • Ann Hibbard via Facebook

    High dose vitamin C can cause cartilage damage. Wish I had known that all those years ago. Combined with pseudoephedrine as was common in the 90’s for sinus conditions…really bad for joints!

    August 25th, 2012 12:36 pm Reply
  • Karen Stefanski-pascale via Facebook

    I take powdered vit c, 1tsp and powdered glutamine, 1tsp in water every morning to heal my gut…natural good source cof course…any comments? Rebecca what do you mean turning on their own? With foods? What about therapeutic situations of sickness?

    August 25th, 2012 12:35 pm Reply
  • Cyn Bates via Facebook

    Something I didn’t know!! I buy vitamins for my children that are made from only whole food sources, yet, I discovered after reading this link that they’re vitamins actually use ascorbic acid! Thanks for the post and keep up the great work!

    August 25th, 2012 12:29 pm Reply
  • Aaron Robert Matteson via Facebook

    3x the amount of vitamin C in broccoli than oranges, add rice and cheese?

    August 25th, 2012 12:15 pm Reply
  • Smith Lloyd Nikko via Facebook

    The real vitamins from fruits and veggies are always better.

    August 25th, 2012 12:14 pm Reply
  • Dodie Pastores via Facebook

    an offshoot of misinformation, i believe. high doses of Vit. C can cause urine precipitation and sedimentation that can lead to renal problems.

    August 25th, 2012 12:11 pm Reply
  • Stephanie Renee Peña via Facebook

    Hmmmm not loving this article.

    August 25th, 2012 12:11 pm Reply
  • Sharon Pelonio Bernabe via Facebook

    how about sodium ascorbate?

    August 25th, 2012 12:11 pm Reply
  • Rebecca Girouard via Facebook

    yes, it would be better if they were turning on their own glutathione….. 1 million times more powerful than Vit. C…and Vit C can’t do it’s job without it!!!

    August 25th, 2012 12:11 pm Reply
  • Lydia


    Where are you currently getting your Vitamin C ? I have been searching everywhere for pure acerola with no ascorbic acid and I can’t find any. The Nutilite you mentioned a few years ago no longer has acerola.

    July 25th, 2012 4:42 pm Reply
    • anna

      Google Amla C Plus by Pure Planet

      August 25th, 2012 1:59 pm Reply
  • Joshua

    Caldwell’s starter culture has ascorbic acid. Is this something i SHOULD’NT use/consume?

    February 23rd, 2012 9:49 pm Reply
  • Emily

    Hi Sarah. Thanks for another great article. How do you feel about Camu Camu? I have a source of powder for it and it is supposed to be one of the highest plant forms of vit c available. We take it in capsules or powder and feel great. Wondering your thoughts. Thanks!

    February 16th, 2012 1:56 pm Reply
  • Lisa

    What is the general consensus of lycospheric Vit C? Is it worth the money? I’m kicking myself after reading this – we’ve spent a small fortune in Emergen-C over the years…

    November 22nd, 2011 7:23 pm Reply
    • leighanne

      Ya…we did the same with Emergen-C…until my husband got a Kidney stone, and I put it together it was from all the packets of Emergen-C that we were downing all in the name of being healthy! ha! Now we use acerola powder.
      Great post!

      November 22nd, 2011 11:48 pm Reply
  • wendi

    I looked for the Nutrilite Acerola C chewables and they are only in Phillipines? So where do you get them or have you switched to another since you’ve posted that?

    Thanks so much! I’m really upset I spent a lot on Vit C thinking it was the non synthetic kind and just looked and it was ascorbic acid :(

    November 21st, 2011 6:00 pm Reply
  • Alarmed American

    What’s this world coming to? … Perpetrators should be held accountable! How can raw milk be illegal and stuff like this isn’t? I don’t get it!

    July 29th, 2011 7:17 pm Reply
  • Carla

    Where do you purchase the Nutrilite Acerola? I can’t seem to find them.

    July 18th, 2011 12:36 am Reply
  • Kim

    Hi Sarah, Thanks always for your blog. I thought I might add that many “natural” food companies add ascorbic acid to their products. (I think as a sort of preservative and to help maintain color). We discovered it in baby food several years ago such as peaches and bananas. (which I know now is not the best food anyhow…we have been making adjustments accordingly) My son would have severe regurgitation after consuming anything with ascorbic acid in it. He has a graphic tongue (as do I) and it would make it flare up. We just ended up switching to fresh fruits or those that I cooked myself. We have a new little girl in the family and I hope to avoid those problems by using traditional foods methods!

    May 1st, 2011 3:11 pm Reply
  • Kathrine

    New here as well;0)

    Thank you for an interesting piece.

    I am trying to get my paws on a natural vitamin C but even though they call themselves “natural”, “natures only” etc. there is nothing *natural* in sight!! The amounts of misinformation (lies) we are meet by daily are simply shocking!

    Kathrine, Denmark

    February 2nd, 2011 10:18 am Reply
    • james lees

      ascorbic acid is not vitamin c ,L- ascorbic acid is vitamin c. their molecules are of a different rotation,the first is synthetic L ascorbic acid is natural

      December 29th, 2013 9:51 am Reply
  • Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist

    1000 mg of vitamin C twice a day is not a good idea for anyone, least of all a child, in my opinion. It is obviously a synthetic version of vitamin C also if the dosage is that high. We use Nutrilite Acerola C chewables which are 30mg per tablet and a whole food source of C.

    July 8th, 2010 5:13 pm Reply
    • Kassia

      Hi Sarah,
      I would like to find a chewable real food vitamin c supplement

      September 29th, 2015 9:20 pm Reply
      • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

        I don’t know of one … the one I link to in the article is a powder you can mix with a bit of water and it tastes great. Would that do?

        September 30th, 2015 5:18 am Reply
    • Kassia

      Hi Sarah,
      I would like to find a chewable real food vitamin c supplement for my daughter (2.5 yrs) to take during winter and when sick. I looked at the ingredients on the Nutrilite brand and it contains hydrogenated cottonseed oil. :( Do you still give it to your kids evaluate the benefits outweigh the risks? Or do you have another chewable brand to recommend? My other option is to buy a powdered variety like Pure Radiance C. Does it dissolve well in cold liquids? My Camu Camu does not dissolve AT ALL. Thanks in advance! Love your blog!

      September 29th, 2015 9:23 pm Reply
  • Anonymous

    I am new to you blog, and am very interested in your July GAPS postings. Our son was recently started on Vitamin C 1000mg 2x a day, after reading this post I am definitely questioning the advisability of this dose, especially since Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride in Gut and Psychology Syndrome also recommends keeping supplements to minimum. Do you have a good recommendation for a whole food vitamin supplement? Thanks and I look forward to your future posts.

    July 8th, 2010 3:22 pm Reply
  • Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist

    Welcome Amy! So glad to have you along on this adventure with me!

    April 28th, 2010 4:34 pm Reply
  • Amy Lee

    Hi! My name is Amy. I am a new reader of your blog and have loved everything that I have been reading and watching. I just recently bought myself Nourishing Traditions and am excited about reading through it. I have borrowed it from the library a few times to read some. I have a suggestion for you: I listen to Jack Stockwell. He is a holistic physician / chiropractor. He airs a health show Wednesday morning 7-9 in Utah on He talks about nutrition and about a product brand called Standard Process. They are whole food vitamins. I take that for Vit. C. Anyway, I would love to call you my friend. It is nice to find someone who believes as I do and has knows even more than I do and can teach me. I am going to try soaking my 10 grain mix flour that I make for my baking. If you want to see me:

    April 28th, 2010 3:26 pm Reply
  • Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist

    Here are some sources for whole foods based vitamin C:, springreen acerola tablets, and Nutrilite's chewable acerola C tablets

    February 5th, 2010 10:21 pm Reply
    • Amanda

      Unfortunately, they don’t sell either of those on their site anymore. They do have other options, but they do not have chewables. I’ve tried finding chewables around the internet and it’s virtually impossible. Haven’t found any that are sold in the US. Would you know of anywhere else to look?

      August 25th, 2012 1:49 pm Reply
    • Cassandra

      Yes, the only acerola they carry is cut with ascorbic acid, the stuff sold in the infant formula package. Too bad it doesn’t say at what ratio either. Also, mega dose vitamin C has become a new thing, not that “you don’t need that much if it’s natural”. They’re not downing that much vitamin C to maintain health, they’re downing that much vitamin C in an attempt to fix problems. I think this is also used as part of cancer treatment now. My parents got real big into it, and my brother also tried it, but they all have to take breaks off of the supplements because they develop kidney problems. I’m still trying to convince them to stop.

      August 25th, 2012 2:02 pm Reply
      • dave

        Show us the proof that vitamin c develops kidney stones? I have never seen one study proving this.

        November 4th, 2013 2:03 pm Reply
        • Rufus

          Why don’t you do some actual research? Instead of demanding commenters spoon feed you.

          February 23rd, 2014 3:40 pm Reply
      • PJ carries an acerola that has a non corn maltodextrin for texture.

        July 24th, 2014 1:03 pm Reply

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