The most popular vitamin C myths exposed

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vitamin-C-pill(NaturalHealth365)  Myth number one: What is the “difference” between natural and synthetic vitamin C?

Vitamin C, as ascorbic acid, is a specific molecule having a specific molecular structure. It is not a complex, or a substance with multiple chemical or nutrient ingredients.

There are many products offered to the public these days that appropriately raise the question of whether that product is natural or synthetic. Sweeteners would represent one example of this. You can have a sweetener of natural origin like stevia and stevia extract. Or you can have something like aspartame that simply does not exist in nature.

However, something like sucrose, or table sugar, can either be purified from a variety of foods or can be synthesized in a laboratory. Either source produces the same final product.

What one does need to have some concern about is how effectively the production or purification process produces a final molecule that is free of contaminants. If either the laboratory process or the purification of something from natural origin produces a very high concentration of identical molecules that have no significant traces of other molecules, then you have the same product.

Therefore, the “difference” between natural and synthetic molecules is straightforward, namely, that there is no difference.

Myth number two: L-ascorbic acid versus D-ascorbic acid

Along with a host of other molecules, ascorbic acid is a chiral compound. This means that it exists in forms that are effectively mirror images.

Even though the chemical composition of the forms is identical, they have different three dimensional configurations. Missing your left arm is very different from missing your right arm, even though the sum total of what makes you up is the same. A right-handed person cannot play golf with left-handed clubs. In some situations, there is no significant difference in the clinical impact or the laboratory interactions between enantiomers, or mirror image molecules.

However, such mirror image molecules can also have vastly different effects, especially when a given chemical reaction requires a “lock-and-key” relationship between the reacting molecules. One key fits, and the mirror image key does not. As a practical point, however, one enantiomer can sometimes have a “full expression” and the other enantiomer can have a partial expression, rather than just none.

In the case of ascorbic acid, or vitamin C, the L-form is the form most active in nature. For some of vitamin C’s known effects, the D-form has little to no activity, and for other effects the D-form has significant activity, although not typically to the extent that the L-form shows activity.

Basically, the vitamin C that is derived from natural sources is the L-form. However, the synthetic form of vitamin C can be either the L-form, the D-form, or both. Properly assaying the product determines whether any D-form is present. But just because vitamin C is synthetic does not mean it is the D-form.

Myth number three: Is that vitamin C “GMO-free”?

GMO (genetically modified organism) crops are very much in the news these days. And rightfully so. However, oftentimes the passion involved in avoiding something being needlessly inflicted on millions of people allows little to no room for some scientific input into the discussion.

GMO crops definitely inflict a substantial toxicity, often in the form of the highly toxic substance glyphosate.

Worldwide, corn is a crop being especially impacted by GMO contamination. And corn is the source for much of the food-derived vitamin C (another reason why the alternative, synthetic vitamin C, should not be considered “automatically” bad, as noted above).

However, glyphosate and other GMO-associated toxins are just that: toxins. And toxins are generally of greatest significance when substantial amounts of them are ingested. They all cause increased oxidative stress inside the body, as the manifestation of their toxicity, and this is the primary reason why vitamin C is so important, since it naturally neutralizes toxins and repair oxidized biomolecules that have already been exposed to a toxin.

When someone avoids vitamin C because the only product they can find is a properly purified form of vitamin C that had GMO corn as the source material, they are doing themselves vastly more harm than good. The toxin “exposure” is infinitesimal, and the vast majority of the product, the vitamin C, is the perfect antidote to all toxin exposures, anyway.

Remember that everything you ingest is a combination of nutrients and toxins, also known as antioxidants and pro-oxidants.

Myth number four: The “vitamin C complex”

The whole concept of vitamin C existing naturally in a multi-compound complex is a fiction of preposterous proportions. Whether the individuals, mostly on the internet, really believe this to be true or are intentionally promoting a fraud is not clear.

Certainly, everyone making such ridiculous assertions ultimately ends up promoting some type of a “vitamin C complex” supplement. These individuals even go so far as to say that ascorbic acid is not vitamin C, that ascorbic acid has no impact by itself, and that ascorbic acid alone cannot resolve scurvy, the classical vitamin C deficiency disease.

These assertions are astoundingly wrong, to say the least.

Editor’s note: Here is a great example of the lifesaving power of vitamin C.  Click here to see how one man was saved from a deadly virus.

If for some reason you are among the readers who find this fiction compelling and logical (and the typical YouTube presentations are very slick and seemingly “scientific”) I would encourage you to go to PubMed – on your computer – and type in ascorbic acid, ascorbate, or vitamin C into the search box.

You will immediately see abstracts listed for thousands of articles. None of them, particularly the clinical studies where vitamin C is being used as the primary or only therapy, mentions “vitamin C complex.”

In other words, all of the truly fabulous things that vitamin C has been scientifically documented to do has been done with ascorbic acid or another form of ascorbate by itself.  No other ancillary nutrients, drugs, or compounds were necessary.

Telling the unpopular truth about vitamin C

I am not in a position to directly accuse anyone of deliberately inflicting the fraud of vitamin C complex on whoever listens to them, but it strains credulity to imagine that anyone would present themselves as a vitamin C expert and truly be completely clueless as to the existence of the many thousands of articles that would indicate that such a complex does not exist and is not necessary for vitamin C to have its wonderful effects.

What I can also add about the different forms of vitamin C being marketed as a complex is that they generally have added bioflavonoid antioxidants and sometimes other positive nutrients. Make no doubt about it, the greater the variety of and the quantity of antioxidants that you can take, the better.

More antioxidants do make whatever vitamin C you take more impactful, but they are not required to have a clear and profoundly positive impact from highly-dosed vitamin C. However, these products usually make quality supplementation more expensive than it needs to be, and the C complex products are also not amenable to the easy taking of large multi-gram amounts of vitamin C, such as with pure ascorbic acid or sodium ascorbate powder, as recommended by Dr. Frederick Klenner and Dr. Linus Pauling.

Rather, these C complex products serve to prevent the public and motivated health seekers from realizing the many incredible health benefits that can be realized by pushing vitamin C dosing well past what could be accomplished by even taking several bottles a week of such C complex preparations.

A final warning to all health conscious people

So, as with just about everything else, let the buyer be aware, and educated. Make sure anything you read or hear on the internet not only makes clear sense, but it is also backed up by some clear science and not just being put forth by an articulate person with charm and charisma wanting to make a buck.

Everyone wants to make a living, but motivated health seekers should not be compromising their health just because they are buying into a fraud that is unfortunately just continuing to grow at this point.

About the Author: Thomas E. Levy, MD, JD is a board-certified internist and cardiologist. He is also bar-certified for the practice of law. He has written extensively on the importance of eliminating toxins while bolstering antioxidant defenses in the body, with particular focus on vitamin C. His website is  His latest book, The Toxic Tooth: How a root canal could be making you sick, co-authored with Robert Kulacz, DDS, is now available at


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  • Nat Levin

    I can tell you vitamin C has made such a difference in my health. I haven’t had a cold in years after starting taking vitamin C. Also, it has helped my allergies. I can go outside even if the pollen count is high.

  • Nelll Igmar

    Vitamin C helps heal wounds. I take plenty when going to the dentist for a cleaning. The same goes when I cut or scrape myself. It is such an all around first aid that this vitamin should be in everyone’s first aid kit.

    I keep it with all the vitamins I store in the kitchen, but I also keep it in my bathroom medicine cabinet.

  • Bianca Martinez

    Vitamin C is crucial for gum health. It is a way to avoid periodontal disease. There is isn’t a conventional dentist that will tell you this. However, I learned of this from a friend who found it stopped her gum problems.

    Then I tried it and it improved my gums to such a extent that the dentist couldn’t figured out how I ever needed gum surgery.

  • pam r

    Ascorbic acid is vitamin C – Albert Szent-Györgyi, a Hungarian-born physiologist and biochemist who
    won the Nobel Prize in 1937 and is best remembered for isolating vitamin
    C. After that DR. Fredrick Klenner took this discovery of ascorbic acid and treated all kind of illnesses, toxicity and viruses with great results. He cured Polio, measles, mumps,flu,and many more including pesticide poisoning. IV Vitamin C(sodium ascorbate- not a bag of oranges) is being used in health clinics all over the world in dosages up to 200 grams with only great results. Ascorbic acid has been used to neutralize toxicity and save lives in relation to pesticide poisoning, poisonous snake and spider bites, carbon monoxide poisoning and many others. Sodium Ascorbate even helps to reduce heavy metals in the body such as Mercury and lead. If you have the flu and take enough ascorbic acid you coud be symptom free in 12-24 hours. Everyone I know who took the liposomal Vitamin C for a Sinus infection thought it was a miracle they were better so fast. Even when antibiotics did not work. If ascorbic acid was not Vitamin C and people believe that then Big Pharma could take control of it and we would lose one of the greatest discovery for saving lives to the pharmaceutical industry.

    • Ty Shlackman

      Big Pharma can only patent synthetic chemicals that they invent. They can’t patent things that naturally occur in nature.

  • craigamunson

    ok if organic vit c is not such a treat why is the fda so against organic vit c?????

  • Sandy

    This article has a Trojan Horse within it, in the section called “Myth Number Three.”

    The author omits the significant health damage caused to the gut by GMO corn. GMO “foods” contain virulent bacterial DNA sequences which are used to join dissimilar DNA sources into the corn DNA, in order to impart the “desired” (by Monsanto) traits. When ingested and digested, these virulent bacterial sequences are let loose to create havoc within the gut of the person (or animal) which ate the GMO “food”.

    The article posits the situation wherein a person might be avoiding Vitamin C entirely because nearly all ascorbic acid offered for sale in the USA is sourced from GMO corn. The author basically states that GMO ascorbic acid is better than nothing, which is perhaps a defensible statement; however, the argument is disingenuous. A person educated enough to read the label on a container of Vitamin C probably knows that ascorbic acid and citric acid are derived from GMO corn. Such person, having gone out to buy some Vitamin C, is unlikely to avoid Vitamin C altogether; rather, that person is likely to choose a non-GMO-verified product or an organic one.

    There is absolutely NOTHING WRONG with avoiding GMO-derived alleged “food” products; in fact, the more people who choose organic or at least non-GMO, the fewer GMO crops will be planted. It appears that this author is yet another disinformation artist, trying to say the only thing wrong with GMO foods is the glyphosate residue. While glyphosate residue is in fact highly toxic, it is by NO MEANS the only thing about GMO corn which causes ill health in those who ingest it.

    Loose DNA sequences circulating in the gut, combining random bacteria in unpredictable ways, is far worse because the ill effects are less predictable and are not repeatable for the sake of double-blind scientific studies. Since such health damaging effects aren’t repeatable, the GMO-pushers will never have to face the music for the lost and ruined lives caused by their poisons. Given the author’s academic background, I assume the author already knows this; and given his legal frame of mind, I suspect he’s merely representing the interests of his client, Monsanto, by writing this article.

    For those readers who will point to the author’s other publications, recall that Monsanto’s division of disinformation has been exposed as a real thing,; and consider that an attorney’s duty is to represent his client’s interests, regardless of the sophistry required to confuse the jury. Don’t be fooled.

    • Thomas E. Levy, MD, JD

      Get a grip, Sandy, and read the actual words that I wrote. Eating GMO food and eating highly purified products originally contained in GMO food are two completely different things. You should really be more careful about making such libelous comments and accusations as those above. If you do not have the intellectual capacity to understand the scientific basis of my article, please spare me and everyone else your emotional diatribe. We are inundated in toxins today, and GMO is just one more source, albeit an increasingly large source. It just happens to be completely unnecessary to reflexly reject all products and supplements, especially ones designed to neutralize toxins, like vitamin C, because they originated in a GMO food. Toilet water can be purified to the point of being potable. Perhaps you believe it would be better if vitamin C powder went up to $100 a bottle in order to avoid the GMO bogeyman that had already been eliminated from the product but nevertheless massively increased the price. Then all the poor folks would be in great shape, right?

      Thomas E. Levy, MD, JD

  • Tom Tuttle

    This article is pure propaganda! It belongs on Mythbusters or Quackwatch, both widely acknowledged as cut-burn-and-poison advocates. It certainly doesn’t belong on NaturalHealth365. Who was bribed or blackmailed to agree to publish this trash?

  • Carlly Rizzo

    I love what vitamin C does for my health. However, I now only use lipo-Spheric Vitamin C from LivOn Labs. I need a powerful version of this much needed vitamin. I am prone to gum infections and this one gets rid of it in no time.

    • jazzfeed

      The “power” is in the dosage level. You may be overspending.

  • jazzfeed

    “When someone avoids vitamin C because the only product they can find is a properly purified form of vitamin C that had GMO corn as the source material, they are doing themselves vastly more harm than good. The toxin “exposure” is infinitesimal, and the vast majority of the product, the vitamin C, is the perfect antidote to all toxin exposures, anyway.”

    It’s hard to imagine a situation where all I can find is corn-derived vit C–hopefully that will never happen. If it does I would hope to get by on fruit.
    More importantly to me is to never willingly support the revenue stream flowing into the biotech industry. Without quibbling over molecular biology, I won’t consciously contribute a thousandth of a penny, which I would be doing by purchasing corn-derived vitamin C.