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Did you know that ascorbic acid is actually synthetic vitamin C? What’s more, it is usually GMO vitamin C, which means it was derived from GMO corn.
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 isolated ascorbic acid separated from a whole food source. The manufacturing process that produces synthetically derived vitamin C leaves all the beneficial co-factors behind!
Even more disturbing, ascorbic acid is frequently marketed as natural vitamin C and added to organic foods as a natural preservative. 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. 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 journal Wise Traditions cites three studies that give pause about large doses of vitamin C. The first, 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 500 mg of vitamin C per day and a greater propensity toward thickening of the arteries (Los Angeles Times, March 3, 2000).
More recently, athletes taking 1000 mg of isolated ascorbic acid 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 co-factors. 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. Now, with more studies indicating the danger of high doses of vitamin C, caution seems well-founded.
Fan of Linus Pauling? Consider This…
If you are a fan of Linus Pauling who popularized the notion of huge doses of Vitamin C for the common cold in the 1970s, consider this. GMO Vitamin C did not exist when Pauling was conducting his studies. GMO derived Vitamin C is what most people are unwittingly taking today!
What’s more, the studies indicating the danger of high doses of vitamin C over long periods of time had not been done yet. They were conducted long after Pauling died in 1994.
What about High Dose, Intravenous Ascorbic Acid?
What about high dose, intravenous ascorbic acid for the very ill? Note that vitamin C for IV use is almost always derived from GMO corn as well as being extremely high dose and synthetic ascorbic acid only.
Under certain circumstances and for the very ill, high dose GMO ascorbic acid therapy can be beneficial. For example, my husband used IV ascorbic acid therapy immediately after each amalgam removal. This prevented any released mercury from getting stored in the tissues. Not doing this risks the development of autoimmune disease.
However, synthetic vitamin C especially when genetically modified 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 whole foods sources. This will provide you this critical nutrient at a low dosage that will do no harm over the long term.
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 isolated ascorbic acid is naturally low-dose and yet highly effective.
Don’t forget about the benefits of fresh grassfed milk – a great source of vitamin C. The vitamin C in milk is mostly destroyed by pasteurization, along with many other nutrients. This is why buying fresh and local is so important.
Fresh and lacto-fermented fruits and vegetables (such as traditional sauerkraut) are other excellent sources of the whole vitamin C complex.
Perhaps folks feel the need to take large doses of synthetic vitamin C 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!
Ascorbic Acid is Usually from Genetically Modified Corn
What’s worse is that ascorbic acid is not just synthetic. Remember that it is also usually derived from genetically modified corn! More on that GMO vitamin C travesty fooling millions of consumers every single day in the linked article.
Another vitamin scam harming consumers concerns synthetic folate commercially known as folic acid.
The pushing of beta carotene as true vitamin A by food manufacturers and supplement companies is another nutritional falsehood scamming millions of consumers and worse, seriously harming their health.
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 use. 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.
Pure Radiance C ingredients: camu camu berry extract, manioc root, acerola berry extract, amla berry extract, buckwheat sprouts, freeze-dried berry blend, blueberry, raspberry, cranberry, cherry, rose hips fruit, lemon peel, black pepper berry extract.
I also use the Amla C Plus. Here are the ingredients: Organic Amla berry, organic spirulina.
Notice that the words “ascorbic acid” are not listed in either of these products!
Want to know where to find a complete line of whole food Vitamin C supplements from a variety of whole food plant sources?
Click here for several carefully vetted brands to choose from.
What is your opinion about liposomal vitamin C? Is that just as bad?
This article is untrue… a Vit C expert / former cardiologist Dr. Thomas Levy states that any pure form of ascorbic acid will work… the “natural” is pure hype to charge more for it….I recommend you watch his videos…they are amazing… He says Vit C is a panacea for disease…even cancer… He also has a book “DEath by Calcium” which says too much calcium kills… it literally destroys electrons while vit C restores them and this is at the heart of most disease.
Sarah Pope MGA
Did you read the article? Yes of course ascorbic acid works, but you need to take much higher doses of it because it is synthetic which cause other health issues as referenced in linked studies.
Hi there – are the whole food vitamin c powders you suggested also good for dissolving chlorine in bath water? I’ve read that ascorbic acid is good for this so was wondering if the other powders can be used instead. Thanks!
Sarah Pope MGA
I wouldn’t advise this as the Vitamin C is high quality and it would be very expensive to use it every time you took a bath to inactivate the chlorine. It would be much better to simply get a bathtub filter. https://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/go/bath-water-filter/
As someone that provides IV Vitamin C infusions to my patients I can tell you that we use Vitamin C from tapioca source (corn free). Patients can ask their providers where there Vitamin C is sourced from and they should know.
Sarah Pope MGA
Thank you for this important information!
Just a note in case you’re not aware – the only NOW brand of Acerola I find has ascorbic acid added to it. Thanks for this article!
Sarah Pope MGA
Wow, thanks for that. I am pretty sure it didn’t used to! Gotta watch out for the slippery slope of cheapened products … all the other ones are good though. I recommend Pure Radiance (in the picture above).
Or you can just take a half-tablet dose of over the counter vitamin c to keep your dosage within the RDA, especially if you’re in an area where citrus fruits aren’t readily available.