C The Difference

By Joshua Ng (Pharmacist, Caring Pharmacy) | Malaysia | Tue Oct 02, 2018 10:50am


1.1. Sources of Vitamin C1

  • Vitamin C is found mostly in fresh fruits and leafy vegetables
  • Fruits rich in vitamin C include guava, mango, papaya, citrus fruits and tomatoes
  • Vegetables rich in Vitamin C include cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and most green leafy vegetables like 'bak-choy' and spinach.

1.2. Tolerable Upper Intake Levels of ascorbic acid for various age group1

*Smokers lose vitamin C at a 50% faster rate compared to non-smokers

1.3. Benefits of Vitamin C1

  • Collagen formation, a protein that gives structure to bones, teeth, cartilage, skin, muscle and blood vessels
  • Aids in absorption of iron
  • It is an antioxidant that protect against free radicals that can harmful to the body
  • It is known to strengthen immune system and wound healing


  • The chemical name of Vitamin C is L-ascorbic acid1
  • Natural and synthetic Vitamin C is chemically similar2
  • However natural vitamin C, i.e. from fruits may contain bioflavonoids which may improve bioavailability of Vitamin C2
  • Exposure to oxygen, light and prolonged heating are destructive to ascorbic acid contents of foods1
  • Some studies have shown a small difference between natural versus synthetic vitamin C but conclude that the difference is likely to have minimal physiological impact2


Disclaimer: Certain claims below may not be supported by independent clinical research. Nonetheless, all types of Vitamin C below are considered safe to consume. For further clarification, please consult your doctor or pharmacist.

3.1. For High Potency: Choose Vitamin C with Bioflavonoids

  • Bioflavonoids are plant derived compounds, they are mainly found in citrus fruits2
  • Bioflavanoids may increase the absorption and antioxidant potency of vitamin C2
  • Rose hips contain bioflavanoids. Rose hip is by itself a natural source of vitamin C3
  • Vitamin C in combination with rose hips may allow better absorption of vitamin C3

3.2. For Boosting the Immune System: Choose Effervescent Vitamin C

  • Vitamin C in effervescent formulation has high bioavailability due to solute nature. It is considered to be fast acting4
  • It is gentle on the stomach, taste great and suitable for those who have difficulty to swallow4
  • Some effervescent Vitamin C products have a combination of Zinc, a trace mineral4
  • Zinc has a positive effect on the immune system5

3.3. Gentle on Gut: Choose Buffered Vitamin C or Ester-C®

  • Buffered C is usually combined with minerals salts like calcium, magnesium, potassium. These minerals are alkalizing, therefore gentle to the stomach2
  • Buffered C maintains the PH balance which makes it more comfortable to the stomach when consuming2
  • Ester-C® is made up of Calcium ascorbate. Due to its calcium mineral, it is PH neutral and known to be gentle to the gut2

3.4. All day Protection: Slow release or Ester-C®

  • Certain products are in slow release formulation, they can therefore release vitamin C to ensure a constant supply of antioxidant and immune boosting effects through the day2
  • A formulation called Ester-C® claims that it can last up to 24 hours in the body6
  • The supporting study showed that those taking Ester-C had more vitamin C in white blood cells compared to those who took regular vitamin C7

3.5. For Hectic Lifestyle: Choose Vitamin C 1000mg or Vitamin C with a combination of B complex

  • A higher dose of vitamin C may be ideal for a hectic lifestyle especially if one is unable to adopt a balance diet
  • (Refer to graph above to table above for tolerable upper intake for each age group)
  • Vitamin C can be in combination with B complex, many B complex supplements contain both Vitamin B and C
  • B complex helps in coping with stress and increase energy levels1

3.6. For Kids: Choose syrups, chewable tablets or Vitamin C with a combination of colostrum

  • Colostrum is usually derived from cow's milk after giving birth, colostrum contains high amounts of immunoglobulin, growth factor and antibodies8
  • Vitamin C with a combination of colostrum may work synergistically to improve the immune system of a child
  • Vitamin C in syrup or chewable tablet formulation may be useful for kids who have difficulty swallowing tablets

3.7. For Skin Health: Vitamin C with a combination of glutathione

  • Vitamin C is needed to synthesize collagen which is needed in the connective tissues such as the skin1
  • Vitamin C as an antioxidant is able to counter the effects of free radicals that may lead to cell damage1
  • Vitamin C has been used in various beauty products for its "anti-aging" properties
  • Glutathione is an antioxidant. It is also known for its antimelanogenic effects and therefore used as a skin whitening agent10
  • Vitamin C may work synergistically glutathione. A study showed healthy adults who consumed vitamin C when had increased glutathione levels11


  1.  Recommended nutrient intakes for Malaysia. National coordinating committee on food and nutrition (2017) Ministry of Health Malaysia. 

  2. Bioavailability of Different Forms of Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid). R Jaffe. (2013) Linus Pauling Institue, Perque Integrative Health.

  3. Rose Hip. WebMD (Web accessed Aug 2018). Web link: www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-839/rose-hip

  4. Vitamin C 1000mg + Zinc 10mg Orange Flavour [Product]. Kordel (web accessed Aug 2018). Web link: kordels.co/p_vm_vitamin_c_1000mg.php

  5. Zinc and the immune system. L Rink & P Gabriel (2000). Proceedings of the Nutrition Society.

  6. Ester C [Product]. The Ester C Company (web accessed Aug 2018). Web link: www.esterc.com/

  7. Determination of plasma and leukocyte Vitamin C concentrations in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled with with Ester-C. SH Mitmesser, Q Ye, M Combs, et al. (2016). Springerplus.

  8. Colostrum – its composition, benefits as a nutraceutical – a review. ML Godhia & N Patel (2013). Current Research Nutrition Food Science. 

  9. Anti-aging ingredients that work: The best vitamin C beauty products we’re obsessed with. J Quinn (2018). Gear & Style Cheat Sheet.

  10. Glutathione and its antiaging and antimelanogenic effects. S Weschawalit, S Thongthip, P Asawanonda, et al (2017). Clinical Cosmetic Investigation Dermatology.

  11. Vitamin C elevates red blood cell glutathione in healthy adults. CS Johnston, CG Meyer & JC Srilakshmi (1993). The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.





5 Quick Tips on Looking Good

By Selena (CARiNG Pharmacist) | Malaysia | Tue Oct 02, 2018 10:21am

 Bring Out Your ConfidenceRead More >

5 Quick Tips on Staying Slim

By Selena (CARiNG Pharmacist) | Malaysia | Tue Oct 02, 2018 10:19am

Bring Out Your ConfidenceRead More >

Fever in Children

By Joshua Ng (Pharmacist, Caring Pharmacy) | Malaysia | Tue Oct 02, 2018 11:51am

 The human body has a thermostat which regulates the body temperature...
Read More >