I’ve learned a lot about vitamin C over the last few years, and I wanted to share my latest findings as a food research scientist running a world-class laboratory (CWClabs.com, which is now very close to achieving ISO 17025 accreditation). For the record, I’m also the author of Food Forensics, launching this July in bookstores everywhere. (Download the first chapter now at FoodForensics.com)
For many years, I thought there were only two kinds of vitamin C: “synthetic” vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and “natural” food-based vitamin C. I’ve always said that food-based nutrition is superior to synthetic nutrition, which is exactly why the Natural News Store has offered camu camu superfruit powder as a natural, full-spectrum source of vitamin C.
But the more I learned about vitamin C, the more my eyes were opened to the therapeutic use of pure ascorbic acid, a vitamin C molecule that’s built (i.e. “synthesized”) from plant materials, enzymatic and fermentation processes into a high-grade therapeutic nutrient. What follows here are three important realizations I didn’t know before that I now recognize as being crucial for understanding the roles of food-based nutrient vs. isolated nutrient supplementation.
Realization #1) Many people have very poor digestion
It turns out that many people have extremely poor digestion and can’t extract vitamin C from whole food sources during digestion. Even when they eat food sources containing the nutrient, they don’t absorb much of it. Most of the vitamin C is getting flushed right through their digestive systems.
The only form of vitamin C they digest well, for these people, is a highly water soluble form that requires almost zero digestion on their part. In other words, even if they have very weak stomach acid, they can absorb the nutrients through their intestinal walls, with almost no breaking down of nutrients needed via acid oxidation or probiotic fermentation in the gut.
Realization #2) People don’t eat high sources of vitamin C frequently enough
Vitamin C, being water soluble, flushes out of your system in a matter of hours. As a result, unless you’re taking in high sources of vitamin C twice a day or so, your body is systematically depleting vitamin C and can potentially leave you deficient in the nutrient for long periods of time.
To keep your body primed with vitamin C, you actually need consistent vitamin C intake at least twice a day — from foods or other sources. Yet I find that very few people eat high vitamin C foods more than once a day. (That lunch of burger and fries doesn’t count…)
So vitamin C supplementation can help cover the nutrition gaps between the meals where you’re getting real food-based vitamin C. The upshot here is simple: YES, eat vitamin C from food sources any time you can! But when you can’t, supplement it to boost your vitamin C intake until you get to your next meal of blueberries, strawberries, pineapple, etc. This is how food-based nutrition and supplement-based nutrition can work together for optimum nutritional coverage.
Realization #3: Isolated nutrients can offer therapeutic POTENCY that can outperform a full-spectrum nutrient matrix for certain applications
Finally, there’s another extremely important realization that didn’t hit me on all this until I started running plant extracts on my LC/MS-TOF instrumentation, which is a liquid chromatography, mass spectrometry time-of-flight system. (You can see photos of this system at my lab website, CWClabs.com)
On that system, I can analyze whole plants across their entire spectra of molecular masses, separated by mass-to-charge ratios, column retention times, molecular fragmentation patterns and more. When you analyze spectral data showing the various molecules found in herbs, plants and superfoods, you always see a huge “forest” of overlapping chromatography peaks that represent different organic compounds and molecules. They’re all mixed in together, and chemists refer to this as “junk” that gets in the way of quantitating the targeted molecule you’re trying to find.
But it isn’t junk! It’s all the other synergistic molecules that go together with the nutrient you’re looking for. Medicinal plants or superfoods like turmeric often contain hundreds or even thousands of various chemical compounds and organic molecules that provide the full spectrum of health-supporting properties.
But here’s the kicker…
Many of these supporting molecules are not as potent as the target molecule you’re looking for (such as curcuminoids in turmeric), yet they compete for absorption in your body’s cells, effectively reducing the concentration and potency of the isolated nutrient you’re interested in. Turmeric, for example, contains curcuminoids but also hundreds of other nutrients. When eaten as a whole food, all those various nutrients (molecules) compete with the potency and concentration of curcuminoids in your blood. In this way they provide a wide-ranging array of nutrients with less potency of each nutrient.
Think of a wide-angle flashlight that’s shining a very wide beam into a forest. It’s lighting up the trees, but the amount of light on any given tree is quite dim.
However, if you extract, isolate or build these nutrients using fermentation, enzymatic reactions of other means, you get a single nutrient that’s highly purified, homogenous and extremely potent. This nutrient, taken in isolation, lacks the diversity of the plant-based nutrients but gains enormous potency and therapeutic intensity in the body. Suddenly, a molecule that’s only found in foods at very low levels can become a highly therapeutic molecule at high concentrations consumed in isolation.
Imagine a tightly-focused flashlight aimed at a single tree, bathing it in intense light. That’s the “narrow focus” of an isolated nutrient. In other words, if you need to get more vitamin C to your body’s cells very quickly, camu camu isn’t nearly as concentrated as ascorbic acid. Camu camu is a wonderful superfood, but it contains fiber, proteins and hundreds of other competing molecules that soften the effective absorption velocity of the vitamin C when compared to purified ascorbic acid.
In some cases, however, certain isolated nutrients (usually fat-soluble nutrients) can be far more dangerous due to potential toxicity. For example, while coca leaf tea is perfectly safe to consume, consuming highly purified cocaine is obviously hazardous to your health. In exactly the same way, natural caffeine-containing plants like coffee can be extremely healthy (when consumed in moderation), whereas consuming large quantities of refined caffeine powder can actually be fatal. Vitamin D, likewise, is extremely beneficial in the proper dosage, yet it can also be toxic if taken in ridiculously large quantities.
There is where purified vitamin C is so amazing: It’s highly concentrated yet almost totally non-hazardous. It’s almost impossible to overdose to the point of harm from vitamin C. I’m not aware of a single case in the history of the world where someone died from taking too much vitamin C. Thanks to that safety profile, isolated vitamin C (ascorbic acid) can be consumed in its high purity form where it gets rapidly absorbed by the body, without other competing molecules getting in the way.
What that, you have vitamin C that can be extremely beneficial for people who are vitamin C deficient, who have poor food digestion, or who seek immune support because their immune systems are suppressed or compromised in some way. For some people, purified vitamin C is far more effective than food-based vitamin C. It all just depends on the person, their specific health challenges and their digestive efficiency.
That’s why I’ve chosen vitamin C as the first nutrient to donate to people in need as part of my Nutrition Rescue initiative. Through Nutrition Rescue, we are donating one bottle of regular-grade vitamin C for each bottle of high-grade vitamin C that we sell. This “conscious capitalism” program allows us to get a purified form of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) into the hands of people who have been harmed by immune-damaging chemotherapy treatments, for example.
What I’ve come to realize is that people who are nutrient deficient often need the highly purified forms to reestablish healthy levels as quickly as possible. From there, they can often “maintain” nutrition through food choices, with supplemental vitamin C being added to their diets from time to time as health challenges warrant.
How is your vitamin C manufactured?
The vitamin C we sell under the Nutrition Rescue brand starts as plant-based raw materials. These materials are then fermented, enzymatically altered and restructured (“synthesized”) into ascorbic acid molecules. All plants that contain vitamin C also synthesize their own ascorbic acid molecules. Plants synthesize powerful molecules from the moment they begin to sprout… that’s why plant foods contain all sorts of nutrients and vitamins that aren’t found in their seeds (such as carotenoids, phycocyanins, curcuminoids, polyphenols, vitamins, etc.)
It’s important to understand that vitamin synthesis is a process used by Mother Nature to build molecules that provide survival benefits to plants, animals and other living organisms. Your own body synthesizes nutrients such as hormones and vitamin D.
“Synthesis” simply means creating a new whole from various parts. It’s a process that’s used across nature. What’s important, in my view, is making sure that none of the raw materials or processes involve GMOs or genetic engineering. It’s also crucial to make sure the final product is clean and free from heavy metals or other toxins. That’s what we do in my lab: We test everything for heavy metals, microbiology, molecular identity and more.
The upshot is that by combining our laboratory technology with extremely critical sourcing, we can bring you the world’s most meticulously scrutinized, non-GMO vitamin C (and buffered vitamin C) that you’ll find anywhere. For those who need the potency and purity of ascorbic acid, we’ve got it in both its native form (ascorbic acid) and a buffered form (sodium ascorbate).
For those who want a more broad spectrum, food-based form of vitamin C as much lower potency, we have Camu Camu powder, which is naturally high in vitamin C along with hundreds of other supporting nutrients. (But it’s not nearly as potent as isolate ascorbic acid, you see.)
Which one is right for you? That’s a decision best left up to you and your naturopath. Everybody has unique challenges and goals when it comes to health, so use what’s right for you after discussing your nutritional strategies with your naturopathic physician.
If it’s right for you, get your non-GMO, lab-verified vitamin C and remember that we’ll donate a bottle of vitamin C to someone in need for every bottle you purchase. (Yes, it’s a one-for-one arrangement.)
By the way, we’re already receiving donation requests from victims of Dr. Farid Fata’s criminal cancer fraud that took place in Detroit. We’re already starting to build a list and our donation shipments will begin in less than 30 days. Thank you all for your patience and your support as we pursue this inspired mission to bring amazing nutrition to people who have been immune-damaged by the medical establishment.