FAQ: Are Vitamin C and Ascorbic Acid the Same Thing?
As a species, humans are reliant on certain nutrients and vitamins to remain healthy and maintain standard bodily function. This balance of nutrients is critical to our health, but there is a lot of misinformation about them. Unfortunately, misunderstandings about these vitamins and nutrients do not diminish their importance for our health.
Some nutrients are more significant than others, though we require a healthy balance of all of them. The problem is that accessing those nutrients is becoming more difficult since purchasing healthy foods containing these nutrients is less cost-effective than originally. Nevertheless, it is possible to supplement those nutrients and ensure your body is as healthy as possible. Unfortunately, the different types of nutrients can be difficult to distinguish for the average person.
One of the most common vitamins we are expected to consume is vitamin C, which is hardly surprising since it is an important substance. However, there are other substances that we are often told are good for us, usually for a good reason. Among these other substances is ascorbic acid, which is frequently prescribed to people for several issues.
The question most people have relates to the similarity between vitamin C and ascorbic acid since both substances are used for similar conditions and issues. Therefore, more people are asking whether vitamin C and ascorbic acid are the same or different substances with similar traits.
Are Vitamin C and Ascorbic Acid the Same Thing?
Vitamin C (C6H8O6) and ascorbic acid are often used to address similar health issues and concerns, though we will discuss this later. Because of the similarity between the effects of ascorbic acid and vitamin C, some people question whether they differ. Unfortunately, this question does not have a simple answer and is slightly more complicated than we might like.
The answer is: "yes, but no." Vitamin C and ascorbic acid are the same substances but are acquired from different sources and are therefore produced differently. Despite the differences in production, ascorbic acid functions like vitamin C and is often prescribed for the same purposes.
The only difference between ascorbic acid and vitamin C is that the former is an artificially produced alternative to natural vitamin C. While we can access natural sources of vitamin C through certain foods and supplements, we can also acquire the synthetic alternative, ascorbic acid. Ascorbic acid, while technically a variant of vitamin C, is usually recommended because it is stronger than natural vitamin C.
Ascorbic acid is the chemical name for vitamin C, but most ascorbic acid on the market is specially manufactured to maximize the chemical effect. Because ascorbic acid is the chemical name for vitamin C, people tend to use the terms interchangeably. While they are not necessarily wrong, most vendors and professionals exclusively view ascorbic acid as the synthetic alternative to natural vitamin C.
This is not to say natural vitamin C has no value, but ascorbic acid is more useful when you have a serious deficiency that requires immediate attention. Ascorbic acid is a better option for some deficiencies because it provides a higher concentration of the chemicals that make vitamin C beneficial. Theoretically, it is possible to get the same benefits from natural vitamin C, but when you need greater results in the shortest time, ascorbic acid is recommended by most physicians. Now that we have a better understanding of the differences between ascorbic acid and vitamin C, the question is about why we use them.
What is Vitamin C/Ascorbic Acid Used For?
Regardless of its form, vitamin C is an important component of human biology that promotes healthy bodies. Vitamin C and ascorbic acid provide several benefits that improve our health and physical appearance. The importance of vitamin C is why we were encouraged to consume vitamin C-rich food as children. Without sufficient vitamin C, our physical health deteriorates, and we cannot sustain ourselves. Unfortunately, some individuals develop deficiencies that inhibit their natural levels despite their intake of vitamin C-rich foods. These deficiencies usually mandate using a more powerful and concentrated supplement to compensate for the issues.
Fortunately, these supplements can help us overcome the issues a vitamin C deficiency might induce. Alternatively, adding extra vitamin C or ascorbic acid to our diets could reinforce an already healthy body against certain threats. This begs the question of what vitamin C or ascorbic acid supplements can help us overcome.
Vitamin C, and by extension ascorbic acid, is a powerful antioxidant that protects us from free radicals and oxidative stress that could damage or inflame certain parts of our bodies. Essentially, an antioxidant reinforces our body's natural defenses and makes it easier for us to maintain our health. Studies have connected vitamin C and ascorbic acid consumption to increased antioxidant levels.
Another interesting benefit is that vitamin C provides the ability to promote improved collagen production. Collagen is one of the most important proteins in the human body and is simultaneously one of the most difficult to maintain. Collagen is the protein we use in our developmental stage to grow our skin and hair, making it a crucial protein. Without collagen, we would have no dermal layer to protect us from the elements, and it is something we require to continue repairing the body as we age. Unfortunately, decreasing collagen production in our bodies as we age means our bodies cannot repair our skin completely, and signs of aging, like wrinkles, eventually manifest.
As a result of the natural wear and tear our skin endures, people have begun using collagen supplements to correct these issues. Some collagen supplements are easier to use than others, but the trick is ensuring we have enough of it to enjoy the benefits. This is where the connection between vitamin C and ascorbic acid to collagen occurs. A study by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) confirmed that vitamin C is essential to the healthy production of collagen. Another study conducted by Clinical, Cosmetic, and Investigational Dermatology found evidence that applying vitamin C to the skin increases collagen levels.
The information from the second study was further corroborated by Oregon University and proved that vitamin C enhanced collagen levels improve the appearance of our skin and our capacity to heal from wounds. As a result, using vitamin C or ascorbic acid has become a viable tool for improving the health and quality of our skin. This has turned vitamin C into an unexpected cosmetic tool, though the main focus lies in its health benefits. Nevertheless, the benefits of vitamin C have made it more popular and increased the number of people interested in increasing their vitamin C or ascorbic acid intake. The question these people are left asking is: how can they increase their daily intake?
What Are Sources of Vitamin C?
Vitamin C is an important nutrient for the human body, but it is also easy to overlook since it is a passive ingredient in several foods and drinks. Usually, our vitamin C intake is regulated by a well-balanced diet that ensures we receive the nutrients we need during our youth. Unfortunately, those balanced diets are becoming rarer due to the expense of financing a well-stocked kitchen.
Nowadays, it is easier and cheaper to stop at a fast food chain drive-thru than to stock up at a grocery store to make home-cooked meals. This is not to say parents are not trying to feed their children properly, but it is harder to maintain a healthy food stock. As a result, it is harder for us to consume the nutrients we need. This has made adding foods rich in vitamin C an important part of modern health. The question is, what foods are worth adding to improve our vitamin C levels?
One of the main foods worth adding to your diet if you are trying to improve your vitamin C intake is the Kakadu plum. Hailing from Australia, these fruits are considered a "superfood" that contains 100 times more vitamin C than an orange. This is an impressive value considering oranges are one of the main fruits associated with vitamin C. However, 100 grams of Kakadu plum contains 2,907 milligrams of vitamin C. This significant supply of vitamin C makes Kakadu plums an excellent addition to your diet if you need to increase your vitamin C levels.
Chili peppers are another viable source of vitamin C if you are interested in something with a little more kick. Chili peppers come in a few different colors, but the green and red varieties are the best ones for vitamin C intake. A single green chili pepper contains 109 milligrams of vitamin C, while a red chili pepper has 65. Therefore, those looking to maximize their vitamin C intake should choose green chili peppers since they have a greater concentration. That said, some are uninterested in consuming chili peppers since they present a spicy flavor profile that some people do not like.
You might be wondering what role yellow peppers play in vitamin C intake. Unfortunately, yellow chili peppers are not viable, but yellow bell peppers are significantly better for vitamin C than green or red chili peppers. A single large yellow bell pepper contains 342 milligrams of vitamin C, which is a staggering amount compared to the aforementioned chili peppers.
For those who prefer something a little sweeter, guava fruits are another source of vitamin C that you can employ. Guavas are a little easier to get ahold of since they are native to Mexico and South America, but they are still considered an exotic import. Despite its status as a semi-exotic fruit, guava is an excellent source of vitamin C if you want a milder flavor profile. A single fruit boasts 125 milligrams of vitamin C, and guava was even used in a study to measure reduced cholesterol and blood pressure levels. This makes guava one of the healthier tools for bolstering vitamin C concentrations.
While several foods can improve your vitamin C levels, opting for a supplement or ascorbic acid product might be best. While natural vitamin C is an excellent tool, those needing a more immediate effect will need a more concentrated substance. Fortunately, plenty of supplements can enhance our vitamin C or ascorbic acid concentrations. The trick is finding one that is trustworthy since a few too many vendors will intentionally sell a shoddy product or misrepresent their product as something that might help your health when it is not designed for that. This means the only question left is where to find a reliable supplement.
Finding the Right Blend
While vitamin C and ascorbic acid are often referenced in the same breath, plenty of people mistake them for completely different substances. While it is true that ascorbic acid is primarily artificial while vitamin C is naturally occurring, they are ultimately two sides of the same coin. As a result, the health benefits each substance offers are nearly identical. The only significant difference is that one is a heavy-duty alternative while the other is slower to work.
Despite that significant difference, both substances have merit and are excellent additions to your daily diet. Either substance can improve your health and appearance depending on your needs. If you are dealing with an immediate issue with the quality of your skin, you might want to employ a vitamin C supplement designed to promote collagen absorption. Finding a supplement capable of this is going to be the bigger challenge.
We at Teami realize that keeping your health and appearance in the best state possible is difficult. That is why we have dedicated ourselves to providing supplements and products made from natural ingredients that can help address any issues you might have. Among our products is our Hibiscus Infused Vitamin C Serum, which is infused with vitamin C and designed to promote collagen absorption.
When combined with one of our collagen supplements, our serum can help enhance the quality and appearance of your skin. If you want to improve your health and cosmetic appearance, we encourage you to visit our website. After all, finding the right blend is a Teami effort!
Adi Arezzini | @adiarezzini
Co-Founder + CEO, Teami Blends
Certified Holistic Nutrition Coach
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