Vitamin C research

The Safety Of whole-food Vitamin C compared to synthetic Vitamin C supplements

Researchers in Britain have shown that synthetic vitamin C supplements can have a pro-oxidant, or harmful, effect, whereas vitamin C found in whole foods has an antioxidant, or beneficial effect. Isolated ascorbic acid supplements providing as little as 500 milligrams of synthetic vitamin C can generate free radicals in the body, causing genetic damage. Natural vitamin C from whole foods, on the other hand, fights free radicals and protects against damage.

NY Times, April 9, 1998 entitled: Taking Too Much (Synthetic) Vitamin C Can Be Dangerous, Study Finds

Flavanoids from whole foods are a key cofactor for vitamin c

A survey of scientific literature on the interaction of ascorbic acid and flavonoids demonstrates the importance of consuming vitamin C from foods. These studies show that flavonoids, which accompany ascorbic acid in foods but which are not provided in isolated ascorbic acid supplements, are crucial in supporting the benefits associated with vitamin C. Significantly, flavonoids act as free radical acceptors, absorbing harmful components that are the by-products of metabolism. Flavonoids are also thought to hinder the oxidation of ascorbic acid itself. By preventing ascorbic acid from breaking down into damaging components, flavonoids are thought to have an anti-aging effect. In addition, studies suggest that flavonoids increase the uptake of ascorbic acid.

Pharmacologic Reviews, Vol. 52, No. 4, 673-751, December 2000, Flavonoid-Vitamin C Interactions.

High-Dose Ascorbic Acid Supplements not as effective as whole food vitamin c

A study measuring the effect of vitamin C concentrations in the body after subjects drank orange juice showed that vitamin C from food sources is used more effectively than ascorbic acid from supplements. The study participants consumed two glasses of orange juice, containing 250 milligrams of natural vitamin C, and experienced significant increases in plasma vitamin C. In other studies, participants consumed 500 milligrams of synthetic ascorbic acid (twice the amount used in the orange juice study) yet experienced almost the same blood concentrations of vitamin C. The author of the article reporting the effects of orange juice consumption concluded that “high-dose [isolated] supplements might not be the most efficient way of increasing the body’s pool of vitamin C.”

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 78, No. 3, 454-460, September 2003, Effect of Orange Juice on Vitamin C Concentrations

Vitamin C intake from foods correlate with cancer prevention

Epidemiological evidence shows that vitamin C from food sources has a strong protective effect against cancer. Out of 29 studies examining the consumption of fruits rich in vitamin C, 21 discovered considerable protection against esophageal, pancreatic, stomach, breast and cervical cancers, among other cancers. Specifically, vitamin C was shown to inhibit the spread of tumors. The epidemiological survey’s author came to the following conclusions: “All the nutrients packaged together in fruits and vegetables are synergistic and provide optimal benefit when all are present in optimal quantities. Vitamin C is apparently the first line of antioxidant defense . . . and may act synergistically with other biologic antioxidants and radical scavengers . . . Public health action should be directed towards increasing the consumption of fruit, as well as vegetables, in which nature has packaged a variety of protective nutrients.”

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 53, No. 1, 270-282, January 1991, Vitamin C and Cancer Prevention: The Epidemiological Evidence

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