How to make vitamin C more bioavailable

Find out how to get the most of your supplement by making vitamin C more bioavailable.

Are you getting enough out of your vitamin C intake? Are you experiencing the myriad of benefits that this powerhouse nutrient can give you? If not, you might be wondering why. This article looks at possible reasons for poor vitamin C bioavailability and how to make vitamin C more bioavailable.

11 factors that may influence how vitamin C is absorbed?

Wholefood forms may increase the bioavailability of vitamin C.

Consuming whole food plant forms are one of the best and most bioavailable ways for the body to take up vitamin C. This form from natural plant sources, provides the body with a complex system of important phytochemicals and bioflavonoids that play a vital role in vitamin C’s bioavailability. These plant sources include the Camu Camu berry, the Acerola cherry, Rose Hips, and many other citrus fruits. Peppers are a good source of Vitamin C too. Also, consider the nutrient richness of the plant source. Natural food sources have largely become nutrient-depleted today because of the modern agricultural methods used, nutrient-poor soil, and the long food chains. Try to get your fruits and veggies as fresh and organic as possible.

Wholefood Vitamin C supplements are also a good source if your diet is lacking in the nutrient. Always look for a company that uses methods of cold extraction and not heats to extract the nutrients, doesn’t use fillers, and is non-GMO.

Eat slowly and chew well

Check that you take the correct dosage  

Finding the right daily dosage based on your own individual needs may help make vitamin C more bioavailable. There are different recommendations set by different health institutions. The Linus Pauling Institute recommends a daily intake of 400 mg/day of vitamin C for generally healthy adults. Smokers, pregnant and breastfeeding women all require slightly higher dosages. Speak to your doctor about taking the correct dosage. A blood test will also help determine a deficiency. The below table is set by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

0–6 months40 mg*40 mg*
7–12 months50 mg*50 mg*
1–3 years15 mg15 mg
4–8 years25 mg25 mg
9–13 years45 mg45 mg
14–18 years75 mg65 mg80 mg115 mg
19+ years90 mg75 mg85 mg120 mg
SmokersIndividuals who smoke require 35 mg/day
more vitamin C than nonsmokers.

Does the water solubility of vitamin C help with its bioavailability?

Because vitamin C is a water-soluble nutrient is doesn’t build up in the body like other fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K. Whatever you don’t need gets excreted, but it also means that we need to replenish our vitamin C levels as the body does not produce its own. Although it is not necessary to take a water-soluble nutrient with food, taking vitamin C just after a meal may improve the bioavailability.

As far as supplements go, powder forms remain popular because they dissolve quickly in water and may improve the bioavailability of vitamin C.

Timing and vitamin C bioavailability.

It is advisable to take your vitamin C supplement daily at the same time so you get into a habit of not forgetting. Taking it before bedtime is not recommended as it can keep you awake. Some people with gastrointestinal issues may benefit from taking their vitamin C with food to help with general absorption and also to counter diarrhea or nausea.

The form of vitamin C can affect its bioavailability.

When choosing a vitamin C, go with the one you are comfortable with or prefer. Many people struggle to take big tablets. These are usually the 1000 mg ascorbic acid tablets that leave an uncomfortable feeling in the stomach for some individuals. Vitamin C in powder and liquid form may be preferred by some as the body doesn’t have to go through the extra step of breaking it down, as with a tablet. The new kid on the block called Liposomal vitamin C has a bioavailability rate as it essentially bypasses most of the stomach processes. Compatibility with other meds affects the bioavailability of vitamin C

Make sure that the medication you take is compatible with vitamin C. Combining some meds with certain minerals or vitamins can amplify one and/or counter the other. People on heart medication may want to check that they are taking the correct mineral ascorbate that works with their meds. If both contain potassium, it can elevate the amounts of potassium in the body to dangerous levels. Consult a health practitioner about the compatibility of other meds that might be affecting the absorbency of vitamin C.

Incorrect storage can influence the bioavailability too.

Incorrect storage can influence how the bioavailability of vitamin C supplements. Always make sure the container is kept away from direct sunlight and out of a humid, moist environment like a bathroom. Make sure that the bottle or container is closed tight after use so as to avoid oxidation.

Incorrect pairing can impact absorption of vitamin C.

Some vitamins just don’t pair well with others. Calcium may affect the absorption of vitamin C for example, while iron and vitamin C are complementary. Vitamin C will help make iron more bioavailable too and also counter the possible side effects of iron intake such as constipation. Taking your vitamins and minerals apart during different times of the day can help with effectiveness and absorption too.

Too many fillers can influence Vitamin C absorption.

Research the ingredients listed before making a purchase. Fillers, preservatives, and many other ingredients are harmful and can negate the positive effects of the nutrient itself, and making it less bioavailable. Watch out for ingredients such as magnesium silicate that is suspected of causing cancer. It is harmful when breathed in or swallowed. Another nasty is titanium dioxide that is tied to lung inflammation and kidney damage in mice.

Product expiration impacts vitamin C bioavailability.

Remember to check the expiry date on the label. This may seem like a no-brainer but some people forget. Also check the expiry it before you purchase the product, as it could have expired on the shelf. A product that is old will have lost most of its effectiveness which in turn affects the absorbency.

Probiotics or digestive enzymes can assist with vitamin C bioavailability ?

Some people’s bodies don’t produce enough hydrochloric acid to digest their food optimally, resulting in poor nutrient uptake. A lack of good bacteria in the gut to counter the bad bacteria may also influence the effectiveness of vitamin C. Adding both probiotics and digestive enzymes to your protocols may optimize the bioavailability of your vitamin C supplement.

Liposomal vitamin C, an effective bioavailable form.

This new kid on the block promises greater bioavailability than regular supplement forms because it essentially bypasses the digestive system. The secret lies in something called Liposomes, the tiny microscopic spheres which facilitate faster intracellular uptake of their contents. Liposomal vitamin c is purported to be 5 to 10 times more bioavailable than plain vitamin C, but also more pricey. It comes in both tablet and powder form.

Because this form of vitamin C is still new and exciting claims are made, tread carefully as there will be many companies jumping on the bandwagon to claim a spot to sell you a half-baked liposomal product or something that pretends to be the best on the market.

A good Liposomal vitamin C should have

  • High quality ingredients
  • High concentration of nano particles
  • Refined phosphatidylcholine

Last thoughts

Eat a balanced diet rich in citrus fruit and veggies to get your vitamin C, rather than supplements to increase bioavailability. Eat slowly and chew well. This will help stimulate the digestive enzymes in the mouth to optimize digestion. If you suspect a deficiency even when your daily intake of Vitamin C is met, it could point to an underlying health condition that may be impacting nutrient absorption. Greatly increasing your intake of vitamin C through supplementation may cause side effects, such as creating nutrient imbalances and affecting the bioavailability of other nutrients in the body. Some individuals may also experience nausea and diarrhea when taking large dosages of ascorbic acid.

Taking dietary supplements should always be done alongside the guidance of a medical practitioner. This article was not written or overseen by a medical professional and should not be viewed as advice or diagnostic information.

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Image credit: Cottonbro

Cautionary note: Not any of these statements have been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The content of the articles and the products recommended are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or health issue. The intention is also not to imply that vitamins or any dietary supplements are substitutes for a balanced diet or are in any way more beneficial or superior to dietary nutrients. It is also not intended to imply that general or normal health may be affected by not taking dietary supplements or receiving intravenous vitamin C infusions.

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