Vitamin C is often sold as ascorbic acid. Milk and all frozen or fresh juices purchased at the store are pasteurized. The heat involved in pasteurization literally explodes the vitamin C molecule destroying its nutritional value. This is why we see synthetic ascorbic acid added to these products. This is blatant marketing deception. Real vitamin C is a complex molecule. Ascorbic acid represents only 5% of that complex molecule. It is the outer antioxidant wrapper for the molecule. Let me use the analogy of mailing a physical letter. The envelope is the ascorbic acid. The rest of the vitamin C is the actual letter. Getting an envelope without the letter doesn’t serve any useful purpose. Vitamin C is a complex molecule. If we take ascorbic acid only, we are not getting the rest of the molecule. There are things like rutin (factor P), 20 bioflavanoids, factor J and K, tyrosinase, ascorbinogen, 5 copper ions, etc. It is not a simple, naked, isolated chemical. It is a complex molecule like the B vitamins (B₁, B₂,…B₁₂)—maybe even more complex!  

Dr. Campbell in his book Whole tells the experience of a colleague. Dr. Rui Hai Liu “found that 100 grams of fresh apples (about 4 ounces, or half a cup) had an antioxidant, vitamin C-like activity equivalent to 1,500 mg of vitamin C. This is about three times the amount in a typical vitamin C supplement. When they chemically analyzed those 100 grams of whole apple, however, they found only 5.7 milligrams of vitamin C. This was far below the 1,500 milligrams level of antioxidant activity detected. The vitamin C-like activity from 100 grams of whole apple was an astounding 263 times as potent as the same amount of isolated chemical! Said another way, the specific chemical we refer to as vitamin C accounts for less than 1% of the vitamin C-like activity in the apple—a minuscule amount. The other 99+ percent of this activity is due to other vitamin C chemicals in the apple…”

This study points to the complexity of food. There are thousands of good chemicals in apples each potentially affecting thousands of reactions and metabolic pathways within our bodies. The similar vitamin C components work together creating a synergistic effect within the whole apple. If we eat an isolated chemical, we are not getting any of the supporting characters that give vitamin C its power. The supporting co-factors have names like quercetin, catechin, phlorzin, and chlorogenic acid (found only in plants). Each of these can exist in many forms within the apple. The apple is far more powerful than it looks like from its individual parts! Who would want to watch a movie if the only person on the screen was the leading actor? If we were not able to see and hear the supporting cast, we wouldn’t get much value from the movie. It’s the interplay of the entire production that tells the story and makes the movie interesting.

Ascorbic acid is sold around the world as if it were vitamin C. The consumer is never told the whole, complex story. Ninety percent of the ascorbic acid manufactured is made by a drug manufacturer in New Jersey using sulfuric acid and corn starch. No doubt the corn is GMO so that’s a double whammy! The pharmaceutical and nutraceutical companies purchase it from this manufacturer, rebrand and repackage it in their own unique boxes. They have pictures of fruit trees, gardens and nature, and sell it as their special version of vitamin C. But it all comes from the same factory in New Jersey. 

If you need help finding a real vitamin C, go to and request a list of resources we recommend.

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