This group, like many other holistic health groups, only recommends Vitamin C made from whole foods (meaning food, not the store!) We do not recommend ascorbic acid. Unfortunately, many…including your physician…may not realize that ascorbic acid is not Vitamin C but only one part of the whole Vitamin C molecule. This information maybe new for many because we have grown accustomed to thinking that ascorbic acid is Vitamin C.
Below is a sampling of resources from experts in this area. We hope it will help you to understand our position regarding the recommendation that Vitamin C should come from whole food sources.
Excerpt from Whole Food Vitamins: Ascorbic Acid is Not Vitamin C
by Dr. Tim O’Shea
OK, natural vs. synthetic. Let's start with Vitamin C. Most sources equate vitamin C with ascorbic acid, as though they were the same thing. They're not. Ascorbic acid is an isolate, a fraction, a distillate of naturally occurring vitamin C. In addition to ascorbic acid, vitamin C must include rutin, bioflavonoids, Factor K, Factor J, Factor P, Tyrosinase, Ascorbinogen, and other components. (FB does not permit us to place the vitamin C molecule photo here. It can be found in the comment section below. It’s a very helpful illustration of the whole molecule and where ascorbic acid is located on the molecule so we encourage you to look at the photo.)
Over 90% of ascorbic acid in this country is manufactured at a facility in Nutley, New Jersey, owned by Hoffman-LaRoche, one of the world's biggest drug manufacturers. Here ascorbic acid is made from a process involving cornstarch and volatile acids. Most U.S. vitamin companies then buy the bulk ascorbic acid from this single facility. After that, marketing takes over. Each company makes its own labels, its own claims, and its own formulations, each one claiming to have the superior form of vitamin C, even though it all came from the same place, and it's really not vitamin C at all.
FRACTIONATED = SYNTHETIC = CRYSTALLINE = FAKE
The word synthetic means two things:
- manmade - occurs nowhere in nature
From the outset, it is crucial to understand the difference between vitamins and vitamin activity. The vitamin is the biochemical complex. Vitamin activity means the actual biological and cellular changes that take place when the stage is set for the vitamin complex to act.
Think of it like gas and a car. Pumping the gas into the tank doesn't necessarily mean the car is going anywhere. Other conditions and factors must be also present, in order for Activity to occur. The gas line to the carburetor must be clear, the carburetor jets must be set, there must be an exact mixture of air flow, the ignition must be turned on, the spark plugs must be clean, the exact amount of gas must reach each spark plug right before it fires, no gas must be left over in the cylinder after the plug fires. Getting the idea? If any of this stuff is missing, there's no Activity: the car doesn't run, or at least not very well.
Amazing as it may sound if you're hearing this for the first time, vitamins are more than the synthetic fractions we are commonly taught they are. The ascorbic acid you buy at the grocery store every few weeks, thinking you are buying Vitamin C, is just a chemical copy of naturally occurring ascorbic acid, which itself is still only a fraction of the actual Vitamin C. Real vitamin C is part of something living, and as such, can impart life. Your synthetic, fractionated chemical ascorbic acid never grew in the ground, never saw the light of day, never was alive or part of anything alive. It's a chemical, a cornstarch derivative, a sulfuric acid by-product. In your body it's just another drug. Synthetic vitamins have toxic effects from mega-doses and actually can increase the white blood cell count. Vitamins are only necessary in minute quantities on a daily basis. Whole food vitamins, by contrast, are not toxic since the vitamin is complexed in its integral working form, and requires nothing from the body, and triggers no immune response.
Scurvy is a disease caused by vitamin C deficiency. Scurvy is characterized by bleeding gums, slow wound healing, softening bones, loose teeth, ulcerations of the mouth and digestive tract, general weight loss and fatigue. From 1650 to 1850 half of all seamen on transoceanic voyages died of scurvy. It was discovered by ship surgeon Thomas Lind in the early 1800s that British sailors were spared the disease altogether simply by a diet rich in citrus fruits. Since limes traveled well, they were the common choice during the early years, and thus the expression "limeys" was coined to describe British sailors. It was later found both at sea and in prison fare that potatoes were equally successful in preventing scurvy, and much cheaper to obtain. (Lancet. 1842)
We find that there is less than 20 mg of ascorbic acid in a potato. Yet this small amount, since it is complexed in a food source, is all the body needs not only to prevent scurvy, but also to cure it, even in its advanced state. Such a remedy is described in detail in Richard Dana's amazing journal Two Years Before the Mast, written in 1840.
Whole food vitamin C as found in potatoes, onions, and citrus fruits is able to quickly cure any case of scurvy. By contrast, the fractionated chemical ascorbic acid has been shown to be insufficient in resolving a scurvy condition, simply because it does not act as a nutrient. (Lancet 1842)
Ascorbic acid simply cannot confer vitamin activity, as taught by the discoverer of vitamin C himself, another Nobel Prize laureate, Dr. Albert Szent-Georgi.
Szent-Georgi discovered vitamin C in 1937. In all his research however, Szent-Georgi found that he could never cure scurvy with the isolated ascorbic acid itself. Realizing that he could always cure scurvy with the "impure" vitamin C found in simple foods, Szent-Georgi
discovered that other factors had to be at work in order for vitamin activity to take place. So he returned to the laboratory and eventually made the discovery of another member of the vitamin C complex, as shown in the diagram above: rutin. All the factors in the complex, as Royal Lee and Dr. Szent-Georgi both came to understand, ascorbic acid, rutin, and the other factors, were synergists: co-factors which together sparked the "functional interdependence of biologically related nutrient factors." (Empty Harvest p120) The term "wheels within wheels" was used to describe the interplay of co-factors.
Each of the other synergists in the C complex has a separate function:
- P factors for blood vessel strength, - J factors for oxygen-carrying capacity of red cells, - tyrosinase as an essential enzyme for enhancing white blood cell effectiveness.
Ascorbic acid is just the antioxidant outer shell - the protector of all these other synergists so that they will be able to perform their individual functions.
Dr. Royal Lee's phrase "biological wheels within wheels" always comes up in any discussion of whole food C vitamins. Essentially it means that individual synergists cannot function as a vitamin in a chemically isolated form, like ascorbic acid. Vitamin C is a living complex which contributes to other higher living complexes - like cell repair, collagen manufacture, and maintenance of blood circulation. Ascorbic acid is not a living complex. It is a copy of a part of a living complex known as vitamin C. Ascorbic acid is a fractionated, crystalline isolate of vitamin C.
Why are you...a high school graduate...or a college graduate...or a doctor, and you don't know this? Because drug manufacturers like things clean and simple and cheap to produce. To this simple fact add the politics which always comes into play when anyone mentions the word "billions," and you are beginning to get the idea about where to begin your investigation.
Excerpt from The Calcium Lie II
by Dr Robert Thompson and Kathleen Barnes
You know I’m really passionate about the importance of real vitamin C—whole food vitamin C, not the garbage that is made form ascorbic acid alone. Here’s a rundown of what happens when you are deficient in this vital nutrient.
1. Elevated cholesterol: Our bodies cannot metabolize cholesterol without the real C molecule, which is required for copper utilization. It is logical to conclude that all persons with elevated cholesterol are vitamin C deficient. Having elevated cholesterol is more likely a vitamin C molecule deficiency problem, not a statin drug deficiency problem.
2. Chronic anemia: Our bodies cannot make hemoglobin without the C molecule and the mineral copper, which cannot be utilized in the body without the real Vitamin C. It is pretty amazing how fast a lifelong anemia corrects with the real C molecule being given on a regular basis. Iron, although necessary is much less important than the C molecule.
3. Hemorrhage and easy bruising: Blood cannot clot without the C molecule and, without C, tissues become fragile and vessels break easily. This is why scurvy was known as “hemorrhagic disease,” from severe and prolonged vitamin C molecule deficiency.
This is the reason, in my opinion, for the increased maternal death from hemorrhage in childbirth, which has been seen in the last 10 years, increasing for the first time in the past 50 years. The prenatal “vitamins” taken by nearly all pregnant women actually deplete our patient’s Vitamin C levels to a dangerous and life threatening degree, thus contributing to clotting factor deficiencies and increased risk of hemorrhage, especially due to the “K” factor deficiency.
Because connective tissue strength is determined by the whole C molecule, C deficiency or taking ascorbic acid in standard prenatal “vitamins” which depletes your C levels, may also be a significant contributing factor to premature rupture of membranes, cervical incompetence, preterm labor and delivery, anemia, pelvic tissue weakness, stretch marks, and more.
I used to recommend supplementing with berries as the most likely source of fruit derived whole food Vitamin C. While this recommendation is still correct, I have discovered that they spray commercial berries with methyl bromide to stop mold growth. This bromine issue is extremely important as we discussed in Chapter 5 and 6 and could be a huge concern with regard to the development of breast, prostate, ovarian, thyroid, and possibly pancreatic cancer.
So, unless you grow or pick wild berries yourself, you do not know for sure what you are getting. To heat them is to kill them, so consume only fresh or frozen berries to get the whole food C molecule. Heated jams, jellies, and fruit pies, while absolutely delicious, deplete our Vitamin C.
1. Atherosclerotic plaque and vascular disease: I may not be the first to suggest that vitamin C deficiency is the problem in plaque-forming vascular disease, but I might be one of the first to truly state what it means for these patients to be C deficient because of this ascorbic acid deception. The C molecule and copper utilization are responsible for the connective tissue strength and healing of every tissue in the human body. Without C (the real thing), the cells of our arterial walls do not hold together very well and they become leaky, especially near the heart where the pressures are the greatest. The healing response is to lay down a patch, or plaque, to stop the leaks. Cholesterol is not the issue in most cases.
The C molecule deficiency model as a cause of heart and vascular disease fits more accurately than any other theory thus far proposed. This concept is so simple and so important to our health that this change of awareness cannot happen fast enough. But first, physicians and nutrition leaders must recognize that ascorbic acid is not vitamin C, it depletes vitamin C from the body, and it has numerous harmful effects, unlike the real C molecule. This is The Vitamin C Lie.
1. Connective tissue weakness: Joint, back, neck, knees, disks, cartilage, ligaments or tendons, fascia, and the like, quite literally every piece of connective tissue in the human body requires the C molecule for its strength as well as the right concentrations of the minerals zinc and copper to be healthy. By the way, our connective tissue is supposed to be stronger than bone. This is not what we see. Copper cannot be utilized by the body and connective tissue cannot be formed correctly without the whole food C molecule.
Accordingly, nearly all back and neck disk degeneration, nearly every tendon rupture, nearly every knee ligament tear, nearly every hernia, every bulge, sag, droop, pinch and tissue “fall”, nearly all pelvic relaxation from torn ligaments in childbirth, hemorrhoids, varicose veins, spider veins, loss of cartilage in joints leading to replacements, and more orthopedic operations than we can imagine to the tune of billions of dollars could all be most often prevented if we all had adequate whole food Vitamin C from early on in life.
1. Type 1 Hypothyroidism: Thyroid hormone cannot be produced by the thyroid gland without the vitamin C molecule. Most Type 1 hypothyroidism is probably related to chronic C deficiency. As we noted in Chapter 5, vitamin C regenerates seleno-proteins as well as facilitating copper utilization, both necessary for the formation of Thyroid hormone. Therefore, the combination of C deficiency and selenium deficiency should be an exact recipe for developing Type 1 hypothyroidism (failure of hormone production).
When we start to look at this vitamin C deficiency problem realistically, it becomes overwhelming in significance. I still cannot understand why it was allowed to happen. I also suffered from it myself for many years. I recognize the lack of awareness and the ignorance of some who argue that all we need is ascorbic acid.
Excerpt from Morley Robbins, Magnesium Advocacy Group
Truth be known, this relentless debate about Ascorbic Acid vs Wholefood Vit-C is beginning to dull my senses.
This is what we've learned from science:
Copper is ESSENTIAL for 300+ enzymes
Copper MUST be bound to Ceruloplasmin to work effectively -- it's also known as "Ferroxidase" & is SUPREMELY important for Iron regulation, as well
Ceruloplasmin has 8 Copper ions -- of which 2-3 are Cupric
Ascorbic Acid DESTROYS the physiological properties of Ceruloplasmin, resulting in its LOSS of "blue" (Ceruloplasmin MEANS "Blue Plasma"...) & thus its critical function as an Anti-Oxidant!
Ascorbic Acid DESTROYS Tyrosinase
How can ANYONE seriously discuss, much less debate, this science. As far as I'm concerned, it's high time for this doubt to end about why Wholefood Vitamin-C molecule is ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL in the body.
Vitamin C ”vs” Ascorbic Acid
by Michael and Nora Wohlfeld
Have you ever gone shopping for a car and settled on buying a steering wheel? No one would consider a steering wheel to be a whole car, but it is part of a car. To take this a step further, imagine that you go from one parts store to another and pick up fenders at one place, engine parts, transmission parts, tires, wheels, and seats, all at different places. You take all of these home. Would you have a car? Obviously not! In order to have a car that runs effectively, you should purchase it from its creator: General Motors, Toyota, Ford, or whatever car manufacturer you choose. A car manufacturer has done the research and planning to ensure that the parts of a car are designed appropriately and assembled in the right way so that everything works together. The finished product will be a car that you can drive safely and efficiently.
This scenario may sound ridiculous but most people go to health food stores, drug stores and supermarkets and buy Vitamin C in the same way that one would go out shopping for a car and decide to buy only the steering wheel, thinking it was the whole car. Thousands of bottles of ascorbic acid are purchased everyday under the misguided assumption that ascorbic acid is the same as Vitamin C. In reality, ascorbic acid is an isolated nutrient that is part of Vitamin C but it is not the whole Vitamin C.
So you are getting cheated if you buy ascorbic acid thinking it is Vitamin C. But that might be the least of the consequences you may suffer. Studies over the last several years have demonstrated that people who take high doses of ascorbic acid actually put themselves at risk for a number of health challenges. One study demonstrated that doses of 500 mg a day or more of ascorbic acid increase the incidence of arterial plaque buildup. Another study indicated that gallstones are more likely to appear in those taking ascorbic acid. Are these backlash studies against the health food industry? No, they are legitimate studies.
Wait a minute, you may be thinking. What about all the studies done by Linus Pauling and a multitude of other reputable researchers who have proven the health promoting benefits of Vitamin C and ascorbic acid? Let us put a little perspective on the subject.
Back in the 1930’s ascorbic acid was isolated out of little red peppers. The man who first performed this experiment was Dr. Albert Szent-Gyorgyi who won a Nobel Prize for his work. What he also found, which has mostly been ignored until recently, was that ascorbic acid was far more biologically available and active while it was still in the red pepper.
Scientist of the era of “Better Living Through Chemistry and Science” (which we have been experiencing for the last fifty years) decided to take the discoveries about Vitamin C and “improve” on Mother Nature. First they found that extracting ascorbic acid from natural foods, such as the red peppers, cabbage, cranberries, gooseberries, or acerola berries, is relatively expensive. Ascorbic acid can be created in the laboratory much less expensively (and of course much more profitably). Scientists discovered that they could take corn syrup, mix it with hydrochloric acid, and voila: ascorbic acid! (By the way, the corn is more likely than ever to be genetically modified and of course not organically grown.) Years later, scientists discovered what Dr. Szent-Györgyi had discovered about ascorbic acid, it is not as effective when detached from the whole food matrix! So they went about trying to determine what other factors there could be in the whole food that would make the ascorbic acid work better. First, they discovered the importance of bioflavonoids, so they figured out how to produce these synthetically in the laboratory, to be added to the ascorbic acid. Then they found that ascorbic acid worked better as a mineral ascorbate and they worked on that! Then they found that fat soluble ascorbic acid was superior, because it went directly to the liver vs. water soluble ascorbic acid. In fact if you put 100 mg of ascorbic acid in the body, within a few hours at least 90% of it would be excreted in the urine. If you put 10 times more into the body to account for a 90% loss it would cause diarrhea. So they experimented with various things and concluded that if you attach the ascorbic acid molecule to another molecule, in one case a metabolite, the ascorbic acid will stay in the body longer (they didn’t seem to care why it stayed in the body longer, but it stayed in the body longer and hopefully that was a good thing). Today there is a broad variety of ascorbic acid products with various things attached to them. With all this research, time, thought and dollars being put into creating a synthetic vitamin C, the fact remains that none of them can come even close to the potentials of what Mother Nature makes. One important factor that science has not been able to duplicate is the special kind of energy that holds living food together. Whether this energy is found in the enzymes or in the energy patterns of whole food structures, it is unlikely that science will ever be able to reproduce it in a laboratory. This may be one of several reasons why studies have shown that the body will absorb close to 100% of the vitamin C that is consumed as part of a whole food, whereas barely 10% of the “stripped down” ascorbic acid is absorbed.
Again it is an issue of what we are willing to put into our bodies. Just as you would not shop for a car by buying the various pieces at different places, but look for a whole vehicle that has been synergistically put together by its creator/manufacturer, so Mother Nature has created foods for us that are complex and exactly designed to work in a synergistic way with the design of our
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