Monday, March 17, 2014

When is Vitamin C NOT Vitamin C?

Answer:  When it is ascorbic acid.
(Note: Personal Professional qualifications...Chiropractic Physician, Nutritionist, Herbalist)

Recently a number of my friends are talking about making and drinking a 'singing canary' from the recipe on the TrimHealthyMama website.  They asked me what I thought of it, and here is the long reply.  The Singing canary sounds great except for the fact that they include 4 GRAMS of Ascorbic Acid in it!!!  That is CRAZY!!!  Let me explain why and I will try and keep it simple.

Ascorbic Acid is part of the vitamin C molecule but it is NOT the whole molecule.  To illustrate my point, think of whole Vitamin C as an egg. Ascorbic Acid is like the egg shell.  It is the part that protects the main part of the whole vitamin (The anti-oxidant portion prevents the whole vitamin from being oxidized by the oxygen in the blood, this allows it to be used as a preservative).  It is no more a whole vitamin than an egg shell is equal to a whole egg.  If your body requires the nutrition of an egg, the yolk and the white, then you can eat eggshells all day long and not get the required nutrition.  The same is true of ascorbic acid.  Your body needs the nutrition from a whole Vitamin C and you can eat ascorbic acid all day long and you will still suffer from scurvy, the disease that results from a lack of Vitamin C.  Ascorbic Acid does not treat scurvy, but a couple bites of raw potato or a little bit of lime will!  That is because whole vitamin C is found in whole food!  It is the difference between eating eggshells vs a whole egg.  In a whole Vitamin C molecule there is ascorbic acid.  It composes about 5-10% of the whole Vitamin complex.  It is necessary to protect that complex, Just like an egg shell is necessary to bring the egg from the coop into the house, protect it in the fridge, and convey it to the pan. In our bodies,  Ascorbic Acid is used in the process of copying genetic material.

We need about 350 mg of ascorbic acid every day.  That is about the amount found in whole food in a healthy diet.  If you consume over 500 mg- 1 gm the body produces an enzyme called ascorbase that breaks down the ascorbic acid and excretes it out of the body.  But what about amounts over 1 gram?  In a recent nutritional seminar I was at they informed us that in the not too distant future prescribing large amounts of any vitamin would be considered malpractice.  4 GRAMS is huge!  Taking large amounts of Ascorbic Acid causes long term genetic damage, one of the things that people think they are preventing when they take it.  In the short term ascorbic ACID acts as a system acidifier and so people are using ascorbic acid pharmacologically to acidify their body.  This acidification does slow down viral replication and does help a bit in treating colds.  But it is not a natural treatment nor is it healthy!  The large amounts of ascorbic acid also irritates the bowel and causes a loose stool or even diarrhea.  This is a side effect of a pharmaceutical reaction.

So where does ascorbic acid come from?  If it is not part of a whole food molecule, then it is made from corn syrup, mixed with sulphuric acid and a number of other harsh chemicals and processed into something that looks and acts something like an egg shell.  It is made by the pharmaceutical industry.  If you look at your vitamin bottle and on the back it says '%DV' and you look down the list of ingredients until you see Vit. C/ascorbic acid and it says any number greater than 10% then you know that you are buying synthetic ascorbic acid produced by a drug company.  If a person has a corn allergy, they need to avoid ascorbic acid.  Many vitamin companies claim that their vitamin C is all natural!  This just means that they have some powdered whole food that they have added synthetic ascorbic acid to.  It is no longer natural.

Let's look a bit more at the whole food vitamin molecule.  All vitamins, except D which is really more a fat and is in a class by itself, have a core mineral and many other parts.  At this point we probably only know 50% of the parts and pieces in a whole food vitamin molecule.  Vitamin C has copper as it's core.  Vitamin E has Calcium.  Vitamin C has pyrosinase, copper, P factors, K factors, J factors and much more.  We are not that smart, we have no idea how to make a whole vitamin, we can only make something that looks like an eggshell.

So why do many people feel better when they take their vitamins?  There are several factors.  One, is that most multi-vitamins contain some minerals.  Most people are so depleted of minerals that getting any in is going to make a positive difference in their health.  Second, is that when the body sees that eggshell coming in, it draws from it's reserves and puts the pieces and parts together to make something like a whole functioning vitamin molecule.  However, in the long run this further depletes the body. That is why after awhile people stop getting those good results and think the vitamin isn't working as well, so they must need to take MORE!  This is wrong.  It just results in further depletion in the body.  If someone has toxic levels of copper, you can actually use ascorbic acid to chelate out that excess copper.

The bottom line is avoid multi vitamins!  Eat a healthy diet instead!  

I could go on about this for a LONG time because I have a lot to say re this topic!  You probably noticed.  I want people to stop wasting their money on things that are HARMFUL to them and instead eat healthy!  I am happy to address other questions re vitamins, minerals, herbs and nutrition.

Incidentally, Vitamin E in the form of mixed tocopherols causes cancer to come out of remission and to spread (metastasize).  There has been  double blind research done to document this, and it makes total physiological sense.  Can you think how this might work?  (Clue above.)

Picture on my camera that one of my kids took of their breakfast for some reason.
Note the healthy egg that was eaten- not just a pile of shells.


  1. I like your graphic way of explaining it, Jen. I am a pretty visual person and it's easier for me to understand it. Thanks!

  2. You're welcome! Glad it helped! Let me know what you think about the echinacea post.

  3. I have been taking Evening primerose oil for breast tenderness brought on by pre menopause. In my reading I found that I should take it with Vit. E to help the body absorb it. I have found this to greatly help with the tenderness but and wondering if I should not be taking the Vit.E due to your above comments. Thanks