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lisa fournace winn, dnp, aprn

Confused About Ascorbic Acid? Let Me Help!

With so much mis-information floating around about ascorbic acid, I am here to provide you with clarity. As a functional wellness practitioner, I have been hearing the phrase “Ascorbic Acid is bad for you” floating around TikTok. But that’s simply not true. Allow me to break down the misinformation surrounding everything ascorbic acid is, and what it is not.

A Little History Lesson

Throughout history, you will find people incorporating Vitamin C in multiple ways, not only from fresh fruits, plants, and vegetables, but also from the infusion of pine needles. But there was a period of time when Scurvy (caused by a deficiency of vitamin c, with symptoms ranging from bleeding gums and the reopening of prior wounds to death) resulted in the deaths of millions of sailors. They did not have access to the food needed to maintain an appropriate balance of Vitamin C in their body. What they discovered was drinking lemon or lime juice while at sea decreased their chances of developing or dying from Scurvy. James Lind was one of the first to make the connection between citrus fruits and the prevention of scurvy.

What Is Ascorbic Acid?

Ascorbic Acid (AA) is Vitamin C in its purest form and because of this, most people use these terms interchangeably. What makes them “different” is how the terms are being used. Vitamin C is found naturally in foods such as citrus fruits, bell peppers, and tomatoes, and AA is added to foods and available as a dietary supplement. Most species of animals are able to synthesize vitamin c through a series of steps that convert the glucose into ascorbic acid. Humans don’t have this capability, so we have to consume it in order to reap the benefits. To ensure we are getting a sufficient amount, we have to refine and process food to remove the vitamin.

A Quick Chemical Breakdown of Vitamin C

The chemical composition of Vitamin C is C6H8O6 and it is what’s known as an electron donor. It has the ability to not only reduce oxidants (hence the term anti-oxidant), it can also generate oxidants (which can protect the body from infection and disease) and form different compounds. In other words, there needs to be a balance of pro-oxidants (or oxidative stress) and antioxidants.

I Heard Ascorbic Acid is bad for you!

If you have ever choked on water, unable to breathe for a few seconds, you could conclude that water is bad for you. With that being said, everything has to be taken in moderation. AA is considered safe, if the correct dosage is taken. If you exceed the recommended amount, which is usually more that 2,000 mg daily, side effects can occur. The good thing about our bodies is that it cannot store large amounts of AA, so it gets rid of what it can’t use through the urine. So, overdosing on AA is rarely an issue because it is water-soluble (dissolves in water).  

What Does All This Mean for ME?

Consuming vitamins and nutrients in the foods you eat is always the best way to obtain them. However, due to many reasons, including but not limited to: non-organic foods, acid rain, nutrient depleted soil, poor absorption, and even disorders or disease of the gut, many people are not able to receive all the vitamins and nutrients their body needs simply from food alone. Do not fear Ascorbic Acid, because it is Vitamin C in its purest form. We use it to increase the body’s intake of Vitamin C and help you live a more optimal life. Additional supplements may be required, especially in those that have a deficiency. It provides greater results in a shorter amount of time, provides noticeable health benefits, protects against free radicals, and more.The only significant difference between the two is Vitamin C in its natural form, is slow releasing, and Ascorbic Acid works much faster.

How Do I Know If I Need Supplements?

As your functional medicine provider, I can run blood work to see exactly where your body is lacking, from a nutrient perspective. From there, we can come up with a personalized plan in order to resolve any issues you may be experiencing and start the path to healing. Schedule a consultation today to learn more. 

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