Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is a water-soluble vitamin found in many foods or used as a dietary supplement. Its curative and antioxidant properties make it a nutrient essential for many bodily processes, mostly related to synthesis and repair of tissue and enzyme function. These qualities allow its usage in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.
The benefits of vitamin C we know of are numerous and many more are still uncertain or yet to be discovered. The emerging liposomal vitamin C, which is a much safer and more potent version of vitamin C, takes all the benefits to the next level. Read on to find out more.
What is Vitamin C?
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a vitamin with many important functions. It is usually known to be beneficial for the common cold, but it is much more than that. Seemingly, depending on what is needed by the body, it can act both as an antioxidant and a pro-oxidant, which makes it very versatile in function.
Vitamin C plays a big part in many different bodily processes. It serves as a cofactor in various important enzymatic and non- enzymatic reactions, including collagen synthesis, wound healing and neurotransmitter production. Therefore, a deficiency of vitamin C can disrupt these reactions which can lead to certain diseases.
What Are The Benefits of Vitamin C?
Many studies have shown that vitamin C if taken before or at the very beginning of a cold, can reduce its duration and severity, although the studies on its ability to reduce the frequency of colds are inconclusive.
Vitamin C also plays a prominent role in providing proper proliferation and function of the cells of the immune system, including T cells, B cells, and natural killer cells (NK-cells). This is evident due to the fact that, during infection, vitamin C is consumed quickly and in large amounts.
Vitamin C taken in larger amounts (greater than 500mg per day) has shown positive effects on vascular endothelial cells that line the blood and lymphatic vessels, having stronger effects on individuals at high risk of cardiovascular disease. This provides a significant basis to consider vitamin C as a supplement for the prevention of many vascular diseases.
As stated before, vitamin C also takes part in neurotransmitter production, most notably norepinephrine. Along with serotonin, norepinephrine is involved in the control of depression. It is produced from dopamine with vitamin C serving as an enzymatic cofactor, which is why it is known that vitamin C deficiency increases the risk of depression.
Vitamin C has also been tested as a supplement against Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is accompanied by oxidative stress, which is thought to be an early causative event in the onset of the disease, which implicated that vitamin C could be beneficial in its treatment. Although the studies showed a decrease in oxidative stress in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), they showed no effect on the onset or progression of Alzheimer’s disease. More research is necessary in this field.
Concerning the effects of vitamin C on cancer cells, research is still inconclusive and open for debate. Some studies suggest that high doses of vitamin C can be beneficial in destroying cancer cells and enhancing chemotherapy. The only problem remains the limited absorption of vitamin C. This is where liposomal vitamin C comes in, that has shown to increase the amount of absorbed vitamin C, which opens up the possibility to use it for cancer treatment.
What are the Effects of Low Vitamin C?
The best example for this is scurvy, which is a disease related to collagen issues caused directly by vitamin C deficiency. Collagen is a protein that gives structure to various connective tissues including blood vessels, muscle, skin, bone, and cartilage. As stated before, vitamin C is important for collagen synthesis, and having too little vitamin C renders the collagen unstable and defective. Scurvy is characterized by symptoms such as fatigue, bleeding from the skin or mucous membranes, brittle hair, fever, gum disease, and others. Without treatment, it can lead to complications such as poor wound healing, loss of teeth, convulsions and even death.
Notable studies from the 1960s to 1980s have found that all the symptoms, however dramatic, could be completely reversed easily after supplementing vitamin C. It had also been found that the recovery time did not change depending on administered doses, with it having no difference in administering 70 mg per day or 10 mg per day. Hence, it is implicated that improved absorption could lead to faster results.
What are the Problems with Vitamin C?
Although vitamin C is present in abundance in many foods, dietary excesses are not absorbed, hence net absorption and bioavailability in blood is relatively low. Several tests have confirmed that there is a significant difference in absorption between liposomal vitamin C and non-liposomal vitamin C.
This occurs because liposomes protect vitamin C from the acidic degradation in the stomach and transport it directly into the bloodstream. Subsequently, vitamin C circulates through the blood and enters the target cells by a process described in more detail later on in the following sections.
Vitamin C in normal amounts is safe, even during pregnancy. However, large amounts of orally administered vitamin C can cause certain digestive problems discussed in more detail later. As for intravenous administration, if not monitored cautiously, very high doses can lead to oxalate nephrotoxicity, which can even lead to death.
Which Foods Contain Vitamin C?
Vitamin C is naturally found in many fruits and vegetables, including but not limited to blackcurrant, bell peppers, Brussel sprouts, strawberries, kale, Kakadu plum, orange, grapefruit, mango, broccoli, spinach, pineapple, potato, tomato, guava, carrot, apple, and asparagus.
However, it should be noted that prolonged storage and thermal processing greatly reduces the amount of vitamin C in food.
Vitamin C can also be ingested through supplements as tablets, capsules etc. The quality of these supplements varies from product to product. These qualities are determined by pharmacokinetic properties of different compounds of vitamin C, such as absorption and bioavailability. For example, liposomal vitamin C is classified as a high-quality product based on these properties. Advanced liposomal encapsulation technology (ALET) liposomal vitamin C is proved to have the same efficacy both in vitro and in vivo.
How Much Vitamin C Is Enough?
There is a certain discrepancy between different countries in recommendations for daily doses of vitamin C. For example, India recommends 40 mg per day of vitamin intake by adults, whereas Japan and EU Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recommend up to 110 mg per day. In North America, the recommended doses are equal to 90 mg per day for men, and 75 mg per day for women.
Recommendations also vary depending on age. Children of 1 to 3 years-old are suggested to start from 30 mg per day. There are also some special recommendations for certain groups that may have higher demands for vitamin C. For example, lactating women are recommended doses up to 155 mg per day by the EFSA. Likewise, U.S. Institute of Medicine estimates that smokers need about 35 mg more vitamin C per day than non-smokers.
Higher dietary intake than recommended generally does not pose a risk for any health issues. For example, athletes take even up to 2,000 mg per day without any problems. Nonetheless, certain caution is advised, since significantly high doses can lead to certain side effects.
What Happens If You Take Too Much Vitamin C?
Doses higher than 3,000 mg per day may cause gastrointestinal symptoms such as stomach cramps, diarrhea, indigestion, and nausea. These symptoms occur due to the osmotic effect of large amounts of vitamin C passing through the gastrointestinal tract. This can be prevented by intake of liposomal vitamin C, which can reduce or even eliminate these side effects due to its greater absorption and bioavailability than non-liposomal vitamin C.
It is speculated that high doses of vitamin C are associated with kidney stones formation, but there have been a great number of studies that have been inconclusive, therefore further extensive research is needed on this topic.
Nonetheless, it is certain that vitamin C, when absorbed in excess, is quickly excreted from the blood into the urine, and therefore exhibits very low acute toxicity.
What Is Liposomal Vitamin C?
Liposomal vitamin C is an advanced form of regular vitamin C that utilizes advanced liposomal technology. This technology protects vitamin C from degradation in the harsh environment of the stomach. Once they pass the intestines and into the blood, the vitamins are delivered straight to the target cells. In addition, liposomal vitamin C, as mentioned before, prevents the side effects of unabsorbed vitamin C in the intestines.
This is how it works.
Liposomal technology had been discovered many years ago, but it was not up until recently that it has found more prominent use in the delivery of therapeutic agents and supplements. Basically, liposomes are small spherical particles with a phospholipid bilayer membrane which contains the active ingredient, or in this case vitamin C, inside the liposome. Since all human cells are made of phospholipids, which very much resemble the liposomal phospholipids, the cell membrane naturally fuses with the liposomal membrane and incorporates it into itself, which releases whole contents of the liposome into the target cell easily and effectively.
Many therapeutic agents and supplements are susceptible to degradation by stomach acids and bile salts. The liposomal membrane provides protection to the active ingredients contained inside the membrane so that they are able to pass the upper part of the gastrointestinal tract undamaged, to be absorbed in the large intestine, or to exhibit their effects locally in the distal parts of the gastrointestinal tract.
The liposomal membrane is also responsible for preventing the side effects of undigested vitamin C, as mentioned before. It acts as something similar to an insulator because it neutralizes the electric charge and therefore the osmotic power of vitamin C, hence it eliminates the GI symptoms.
Due to its perseverance in the GI tract and improved pharmacokinetic properties, liposomal vitamin C is more powerful than regular vitamin C, even in lower doses.
Liposomes differ in terms of size. This allows for precisely targeted and timed delivery, which sends the vitamin exactly where it is needed along the best route. It also provides controlled and prolonged release of the vitamin, enabling it to carry out its effects for longer periods of time.
It is very important to make sure that the liposomes are of superb quality. The two determining quality factors are stability and low alcohol levels. For example, Endosana ALET liposomes have a more advanced technology where they provide fewer alcohol amounts in their products, without compromising stability. This makes them significantly better than the industry standard. Furthermore, ALET liposomal powder contains no added ingredients, just the liposome, and the vitamin. Efficacy of ALET products is higher, but there are no side effects.
Liposomal vitamin C represents the biggest improvement in bioavailability in recent years. Medicine is most certainly taking big steps lately, and be sure to keep up!