Are you getting enough out of your vitamin C intake? Are you experiencing the myriad of benefits this powerhouse nutrient can give you? If not, you might be wondering why. In this article, we discover what the reasons might be for poor vitamin C absorption, how to improve absorbency, and which form of vitamin C is best absorbed.
What vitamin C is and how does it function in the body.
Vitamin C is a water-soluble nutrient which means it doesn’t need to be taken with food to be absorbed into the body. Whatever the body does not need it excretes via the kidneys and urine. Since our bodies do not produce any of their own vitamin C and we need to obtain it from food, the issue of absorption becomes even more important.
11 factors that may influence how vitamin C is absorbed
Check that you take the correct dosage
The Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academies recommends 75 mg/day for women and 90 mg/day for men of vitamin C. The Linus Pauling Institute, recommends a daily intake of 400 mg/day of vitamin C for healthy individuals. People who have compromised immune systems and smokers, may only really benefit from higher dosages to see improvement in general health.
Does the water solubility of vitamin C help with its absorbency?
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 your food can also help assist with the absorption of it. Ascorbic acid in supplement powder form is popular because it dissolves faster than tablets, which helps to improve absorption.
Timing and vitamin C absorbency
It is advisable to take your favorite form of 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 how it is absorbed
When choosing a vitamin C supplement, go with the one you are comfortable 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.
Compatibility with other meds affects how vitamin C forms are absorbed
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 effectiveness of vitamin C.
Incorrect storage can influence how any form of vitamin C is absorbed in the body. 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 with iron absorption 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 effective and poorly absorbed. Be on the lookout for magnesium silicate that is suspected of causing cancer. It is harmful when breathed in or swallowed. Another questionable ingredient is titanium dioxide that is tied to lung inflammation and kidney damage in mice.
Product expiration impacts vitamin C absorption
Remember to check the expiry date on the label. This may seem like a no-brainer but some people forget. Also check the expiry 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 absorption?
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 uptake and absorbency of your vitamin C supplement.
Liposomal vitamin C, an effective form of vitamin C for fast absorption
This new kid on the block promises faster delivery into the bloodstream and also better absorption than ascorbic acid in its conventional form because it 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 about 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.
Last thoughts on which vitamin C is best absorbed.
The most ideal form of vitamin C is still from natural food sources, which contain important bioflavonoids and phytochemicals that help vitamin C absorb better. As far as supplements go, the most popular forms of vitamin C best absorbed are the powder and liposomal forms. Natural whole food vitamin C supplements are good forms to try too. They contain all the important bioflavonoids and other phytochemicals that assist in the absorption of vitamin C.
Do you know if you are deficient in vitamin C? Have your doctor do a simple blood test to find out. Deficiency may point to an underlying health condition that impacts the body’s ability to absorb nutrients such as vitamin C. Consult a health practitioner when in doubt about taking the most absorbable form of vitamin C.
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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.
Image credit: Andrea Piacquadio