Organic Vitamin C vs Synthetic Vitamin C - What is the difference?
Vitamin C has always been promoted as one of the most important micronutrients we need to ensure to get from our diet or a supplement. It’s often regarded as a crucial component to immune health and the prevention of infections.
But, is there a difference between getting it from an orange or camu camu berries and a synthetic supplement? Let’s find out.
What is Vitamin C?
Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, meaning it easily dissolves in water and gets delivered to your body’s tissues and cells. This also means it’s not well stored so you need to take it daily to obtain optimal levels.
It was discovered in 1933, but it’s been long recognized as a compound that helps treat scurvy, a disease that killed over two million sailors between 1500 and 1800. Nowadays, we’re well aware of the powerful and important health benefits of vitamin C and how adequate daily intake as well as deficiencies can drastically affect your overall health and healing.
Benefits of Vitamin C
Vitamin C plays a variety of important roles in your body, some of which include:
- Controls infections
- Helps heal wounds
- Helps improve memory and cognition
- Helps fight and neutralize free radicals and their harmful effects (as an antioxidant)
- Helps make collagen in your body, one of the most important proteins in your connective tissues, nails, and hair
- May help lower blood pressure
- May lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides
- May help reduce uric acid and protect against gout, a very painful inflammation of the joints
- Helps improve the absorption of iron
Vitamin C Deficiency
The recommended daily intake for vitamin C is 90 milligrams for adult men and 75 milligrams for adult women, with the tolerable upper intake level being 2000 mg. These numbers are just benchmarks as there are plenty of factors that can play a role in whether or not you need more than just this basic number. If you’re pregnant, lactating, or physically active, you might need more vitamin C to keep it in your system.
Although rare, vitamin C deficiency still affects around 7% of adults in the US. That’s mostly due to a poor diet that’s low in vegetables and fruits, alcoholism, eating disorders, smoking, mental illness, certain medications, and dialysis. It develops slowly so some of the symptoms might be hard to notice until it’s already too late. Still, pay attention to rough and bumpy skin, red hair follicles, corkscrew-shaped body hair, fingernails with red spots and lines, easy bruising, slow healing wounds, swollen joints, weak bones, bleeding gums, and overall poor immunity.
Although these are very vague symptoms and can potentially be linked to a variety of different conditions, they should not be neglected. If you notice at least one of the symptoms, have your doctor run some tests.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to get vitamin C from your diet, as well as taking a vitamin C supplement and meeting your daily numbers, so experiencing symptoms of deficiency should really be hard to achieve.
Organic Vitamin C
Natural vitamin C found in fruits and vegetables is its organic version and your body absorbs it through your diet. Some of the highest sources of organic vitamin C include:
- Camu camu berry - this amazing Peruvian superfood has 60 times more vitamin C than oranges and it’s one of the best sources of vitamin C among food.
- Red pepper
- White potatoes
Synthetic Vitamin C
Also known as a vitamin supplement you buy in the drugstore, synthetic vitamin C is made in the lab and it’s usually made by taking corn starch and breaking it down with a variety of enzymes, heat exposure, acetone, and hydrochloric acid. In many cases, this cornstarch is derived from GMO corn which brings a variety of other problems to the picture.
There are specific studies that brought this to attention and linked synthetic vitamin C to cancer, thickening of the artery walls, and interference with muscle efficiency. Still, these studies are done on a very limited number of participants and the doses used were much higher than the recommended intakes. More studies need to be done in this section to prove or dispute these claims.
Organic Vs Synthetic Vitamin C
Although they are chemically identical, research shows how natural ascorbic acid derived from fruits and vegetables might be better absorbed due to other nutrients and antioxidants found in these foods. The interactions between a variety of flavonoids and vitamin C have been intensely studied and showcasing their effect on one another which enhances their powerful health benefits.
Additionally, synthetic ingredients, no matter what they are, can always be a potential cause of digestive discomfort and other gut issues which is why newer versions of synthetic vitamin C supplements often contain calcium ascorbate in order to mitigate these effects. This, however, lowers its activity and makes it less potent and less absorbable.
It’s therefore safe to say that getting organic vitamin C from your diet is better for your daily intake than supplementation. Still, the question of actual bioavailability and levels of vitamin C in today’s produce is a valid one. With soil depletion and the prevalence of genetically modified organisms, what once contained 10 mg of vitamin C today might not even reach half.
So how are you to know what to do and get an adequate daily amount of vitamin C? It’s probably best to combine the two. Choose sources of vitamin C that are high-quality and easy to digest, such as our raw camu camu powder, and get a good quality, non-GMO derived synthetic supplement if you’re still unable to meet your numbers through food alone.
Get checked out by your doctor and see where your daily levels lie. If you’re in the healthy range without a synthetic vitamin C supplement, you might not even need to think about getting one. Increase your daily dose through vitamin C-rich foods and feel safe knowing you’re doing plenty to support your immune system and overall health.
Vitamin C is an essential micronutrient that plays a variety of important roles in our bodies. It’s also only one of many nutrients we need to pay attention to and ensure we’re not deficient in. And everything starts with your diet. Assess your current eating habits, eliminate inflammatory foods, and nourish your body from the inside out. You’ll see how powerful these changes will be on your health and longevity.