Ascorbic acid is the most common form of vitamin C. "It is an essential food for human beings. People who receive no ascorbic acid (vitamin C) become sick and die," - Linus Pauling from his book, Vitamin C and the Common Cold (1970).

Is "Vitamin C" a Vitamin?

Medical doctors are trained to believe that a little vitamin C goes a long way.

The goverment's current recommended daily allowance for vitamin C is around 70 milligrams

Nobelist and the world's foremost Vitamin C expert Linus Pauling explained that there is a wealth of scientific research information to the contrary. (There have been more than 100,000 studies and papers over the past 80 years. Surprisingly, only ordinary aspirin has more research behind it.)

The Vitamin C Foundation's recommended daily allowance is 3000 milligrams. Linus Pauling himself wrote the by 1986 he was consuming 18,000 milligrams, and he recommended 6000 milligrams (or 6 grms) to 18,000 milligrams (18 grams) every day. Pauling wrote in the same book, How to Live Longer and Feel Better, that it was unwise to skip even a single day.[1])

Dr. Robert Cathcart, III, MD has used more then 200,000 milligrams daily treating severe viral infections as described in his original 1986 Titrating to Bowel Tolerance paper.

**The dosages make a strong case the ascorbate is not a vitamin in the commonly used sense of the word.

While most of the vitamin C research is still being kept from medical school training, there is now abundant evidence to support Pauling's conviction that the more vitamin C you take the better you will feel.

What is Vitamin C?

The Vitamin That Conquered The World!

"The old name for scurvy was scorbutes; so vitamin C, once identified, was quickly christened a-scorbutic acid; or ascorbic acid. Ignore the deluded ninnies that think ascorbic acid is something evil and not real vitamin C! It's as daft as saying H20 isn't water! And before you write to tell me: ascorbic acid is the name for both natural and synthetic vitamin C and BOTH work just fine, because they are identical. - Dr. Keith Scott-Mumby

What if All Vitamin C Isn't Created Equal?

Vitamin C comes in many forms. The most common form of vitamin C is Ascorbic Acid (Hydrogen Ascorbate). Many people use the terms "Vitamin C" and "ascorbic acid" interchangeably, to make writing easier, but ascorbic acid is not the only form of vitamin C. (Note ascorbic acid is a weak acid, having about the same acidity as a cola soft drink)
Vitamin C does not have to be acidic. It is also found in various alkaline forms; the mineral ascorbates: e.g. Sodium Ascorbate, Calcium Ascorbate, Magnesium Ascorbate, Potassium Ascorbate, etc.

Note that all forms of vitamin C can be called "ascorbates." The "ascorbate" fraction of each molecule has the vitamin C (anti-scurvy) activity. Chemists refer to vitamin C as the ascorbate ion, but the ascorbate fraction rapidly attaches to some other ion (e.g. hydrogen, sodium, calcium, magnesium potassium, etc.).

Vitamin C also comes in different shapes in three-dimensional space. The different shapes of the ascorbate fraction have the same atoms, but the atoms are arranged differently, much like the right hand is the same but different from the left hand.

This difference among the "same" molecules is called chirality in chemistry. Linus Pauling informed us that there are exactly four different shapes ("sterioisomers") the ascorbate ion can take: They are L-ascorbate, D-ascorbate, LD-ascorbate and DL-ascorbate.
Linus Pauling also shared the finding that only the L-ascorbate shape has vitamin C activity, i.e. only the L- shape can cure the vitamin C deficiency disease scurvy.

Vitamin C - What do you need

"While known to scientists like myself, the public and most doctors are totally unaware that synthesizing vitamin C produces two very different molecules. These are: D-ascorbate and L-ascorbate. Almost all the vitamin C on the market is roughly a 50/50 mixture of the two. Only the L-ascorbate is biologically beneficial to the body. D-ascorbate is an irritant to the body, and there are indications that a lot of D-ascorbate could be detrimental to health.

"Over the years that I have recommended vitamin C, many have complained that vitamin C irritates their stomach. Yet, when they take high-quality vitamin C, this doesn't happen. It's the D-ascorbate contaminant that's the problem. Those who are supplementing with regular commercial vitamin C need to know that half of what they are paying for is biologically useless, a waste of money and perhaps even detrimental. Another issue is that even vitamin C from natural sources degrades. For example, a fresh orange is almost all L-ascorbate. Once extracted to make orange juice, it will, in a matter of days, degrade to become a 50/50 mixture of D- and L-ascorbate" - Raymond Francis

Vitamin C Foundation Approved® products are DSM Quali-C® certified L-ascorbate.
See Quali-c Spec Sheet

Why Do We Need Vitamin C?

"Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) is one of the important water soluble vitamins. It is essential for collagen, carnitine and neurotransmitters biosynthesis. Most plants and animals synthesize ascorbic acid for their own requirement. However, apes and humans can not synthesize ascorbic acid due to lack of an enzyme gulonolactone oxidase. Hence, ascorbic acid has to be supplemented mainly through fruits, vegetables and tablets. " Read the full article Vitamin C in human health and disease is still a mystery? An overview

According to Linus Pauling, vitamin c deficiency is more common in human beings than generally believed. The complete absence of vitamin C in the diet will cause death from the vitamin C deficiency disease scurvy. Nobelist Pauling felt that we are all dying a slower death from scurvy. It is a fact that Pauling and associates implicated a sub-clinical vitamin C deficiency, leading to a condition he called chronic scurvy, as the root cause of heart disease. Cardiovascular diseases, including Heart disease and stroke, are the leading cause of death in the United States.

Pauling's Therapy for Heart and Cardiovascular Disease?

Owen Fonorow National Radio Interviews on Pauling's Vitamin C Therapy for Heart Disease

There is growing scientific evidence, as documented throughout these web pages, that taking more vitamin C than is recommended by medical authorities and government agencies can prevent and even treat a wide variety of human disorders; ranging from heart disease and stroke, to cancer, to diabetes, to viral and bacterial infections, as well as slow premature aging

There is even an intellectual argument whether vitamin C is really a vitamin! (Most vitamins are readily available in the diet from food and they are only required in miniscule amounts.)

According to British nutritionist Patrick Holford,
"Vitamin C, ascorbic acid (C6H8O6), isn't a vitamin at all. It is not a necessary component of the diet, at least for all mammals with the exception of guinea pigs, fruit eating bats, the red vented bulbul bird and primates - which includes us. All other species make their own." - Read full article: How Much Is Enough?

To help clarify our thinking and understanding, some scientists are now calling vitamin C "ascorbate," esp. when referring to dosages higher than the 50 or 60 mg daily that prevent death from frank scurvy.

Vitamin C-Complex - Fact or Fiction?


Is there really such a thing as "natural vitamin C"? Not ascorbic acid, but some kind of ill defined complex, only in plants? If so, this fact escaped the attention of Linus Pauling, and this "complex" is not reported in over 100,000 published studies, papers, reports and scientific articles regarding Vitamin C - ascorbic acid.

The Nature of Vitamin C (html)

The official Vitamin C Foundation response to the "Natural Vitamin C" and "C-complex" arguments that are widely distributed across the Internet. The claim that Ascorbic Acid isn't the real vitamin C is provably false. Please print, read and distribute as appropriate.
The Nature of Vitamin C (PDF Suitable for Printing)

Forum Discussion of the Vitamin C Complex

Those who argue that a "vitamin C complex" different from ascorbic acid exists, usually claim (falsely) that the scientist (A. Szent-Gyorgyi) who first isolated Vitamin C also believed in the C-complex by misquoting is earlier work. Here is the paper that explains why ascorbic acid is vitamin C - ascorbic acid.

A.Szent-Gyorgyi's Nobel Prize Lecture On Vitamin C  

Our thanks to Vitamin C Foundation researcher Ralph Lotz for finding this reference.

Karl Loren's Discussion: Synthetic Vitamin C Versus "Natural" Vitamin C... (Scroll down)

Example Science Project

Eight Year old Daniel Crawford's Science Project Contains a procedure for testing for Vitamin C content in foods.

Flashback: 70 Years Ago...

From the September 22, 1934, issue of Science News
Synthetic vitamin C, called ascorbic acid, in its first actual use on medical patients is producing very striking and unexpected disease conquests, the British Association for the Advancement of Science was informed by Prof. A. Szent-Györgyi, the Hungarian chemist who played a major role in the artificial manufacture of this important vitamin.

The mouth disorder known as pyorrhea, a certain kind of hemophilia, which is a disease of bleeding, certain forms of hemorrhagic nephritis, and several other diseases against which medicine was helpless are seemingly being cured by ascorbic acid. Ascorbic acid is not a cure for hereditary hemophilia.

"This is the more striking since these pathological conditions have not been thought to be connected with lack of vitamin," Prof. Szent-Györgyi explained. "These curative effects suggest that humanity is suffering much more gravely from a lack of vitamin C than has hitherto been supposed."

Disfiguring colorations of the skin brought on by illness are also made to disappear by ascorbic acid. Patients with Addison's disease, who have a yellow color, can be bleached out again by the use of this substance.


ASCORBATE WEB One of the largest collections of vitamin C research on the web.


Nutrition Journal Article on Vitamin C

Good overview. Excellent references. The authors make the common mistakes (e.g. they cites tissue saturation without explaining why animals produce so much more endogenous ascorbate past their own 'tissue saturation' levels, etc.).

The New Definition of Scurvy...

The Last Interview Linus Pauling's final interview with the Journal of Optimum Nutrition in 1994.

The genetic reason why we can't make our own vitamin C

Vitamin C Study Abstracts Amazing findings from the latest studies.

Vitamin C Content in Foods (Large file! Derived from the USDA database)

New technology for vitamin C production may end Chinese monopoly...

Dr. Saul's Vitamin C Collection



Help us Save Gorillas From Sudden Zoo Death

Check out the Foundation's Recommended Daily Allowance for Vitamin C

(Note: Vitamin C news posted and discussed daily at our Forum)

Free, Peer-Reviewed Nutritional Medicine Information Online

It is difficult to find authoritative web pages that do not have some misinformation about vitamin C -- the ascorbate ion or ascorbate for short.

In hopes of helping students at all age levels, we provide a links to overviews that were largely correct when we reviewed them.

The best source information for the lay person is Linus Pauling's 1986 book How to Live Longer and Feel Better.

"Vitamin C is a normal constituent of the body, required for life. It is involved in essentially all of the biochemical reations that take place in the body and in all of the body's protective mechanisms. With the ordinary intake of vitamin C these reactions and mechanisms do not operate efficiently." - Linus Pauling (pg. 123 HOW TO LIVE LONGER AND FEEL BTTER, 1986, paperback)

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