Back to school time and heavy on our minds is how to keep our kids healthy. The bacterial and viral bugs pass so easily from child to child and quite often will then spread through the whole home. So let's talk about a simple defense that is slightly famous and yet often underrated, Vitamin C.
Humans are one of the few living organisms that cannot create their own Vitamin C. Even your dog and cat can! It has a role in many functions in our body (1):
Promotes Healthy Skin and Collagen Formation
Improves Iron Absorption
Reduces Risk of Gout
Fights Free Radical Damage
Boosts Immune Function
Enhances Cancer Treatment
Supports Heart Health
Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is one of the most easily available supplements you can find. Even fuel stops have been known to have Emergen-C sitting on their counters. However, given the vast price ranges when choosing the supplement, how can you know the best one to choose to get the most immune boost for your buck? Let's take a deeper look right now.
Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin and therefore doesn’t interact particularly efficiently with the cell membrane wall that is made up of fatty acids (as in water and oil don't mix). Estimates are that oral vitamin C intake has a 20% absorption rate into the bloodstream with the other 80% accumulating in the colon. This is often why it can be associated with digestive complaints such as cramping and diarrhea because it draws water into the colon (2). And actually having a loose stool can be indicative of having saturated your body's ability to uptake oral vitamin C. Also, ascorbic acid can be produced from GMO sources and be synthesized in a lab. So no, just any vitamin C is not going to give you the results you want. And because many tests done do not differentiate between the different types of supplements available, this may explain why Vitamin C is not getting the credit it deserves from many mainstream sources.
My recommendation is to choose a supplement that contains more than just ascorbic acid. Bioflavonoids can often be found to accompany ascorbic acid and are a good indicator of higher quality. Whole foods indicate high quality as well, Acerola cherry is a popular choice since it boasts one of the highest amounts of vitamin C. Berries may also be listed as a source of the bioflavonoids. The use of whole foods allows for integrating more of the components of the vitamin C than just its outer layer, ascorbic acid.
Also choosing liposomal ascorbic acid means that the vitamin has been wrapped in a fatty layer so it can easily assimilate into the cells. The best carrier for liposomal vitamin C is phosphatidyl choline (PC) which helps to hold the liposomes together. The PC should be derived from a non-GMO soy or sunflower lecithin form (2). This can show up as an oil incorporated into the "Other ingredients" or HPMC(capsule).
And of course, labeling such as organic, non-GMO, Allergen Free are all good indicators of a quality supplement.