Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is a water-soluble vitamin that is essential to humans and must be obtained exogenously. While most mammals
are able to synthesize vitamin C, humans are unable to. This is because humans lack one of the enzymes required to synthesize vitamin
C from glucose. Stress, smoking, pollution, radiation and heavy metal exposure, immune challenge, and temperature change all increase
the human requirement for vitamin C. Well-known functions of this versatile vitamin include antioxidant protection from free radicals and
oxidative processes; synthesis of collagen, carnitine, and neurotransmitters; and immune stimulation and support.[1-3] Vitamin C functions
as a cofactor for several metabolic enzymes and is involved in protein metabolism. It also plays a lesser-known role in the deactivation of
Collagen is a fundamental component of bone, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels. Vitamin C’s role in collagen formation makes it vital
to maintaining skin, capillary, gum, joint, and skeletal health.[1,3,6] Vitamin C’s role in promoting and maintaining collagen, and consequently
skin integrity, was recognized as early as the 1930s in published surgical journals.*
Synthesis of carnitine depends on vitamin C, highlighting vitamin C’s role in energy production. Carnitine is the “car” that shuttles fatty
acids into the mitochondria where they can be converted to the energy-yielding molecule adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Synthesis of
certain hormones and neurotransmitters depends on vitamin C as well. It is required for the conversion of dopamine to norepinephrine—a
neurotransmitter that is of great importance in maintaining healthy mood and brain function.*
Protecting tissues and organs from oxidative damage is believed to be pivotal in maintaining health in the body.[8,9] Ascorbate, the reduced
form of vitamin C (the form found in Balanced C), is a generous donor of electrons, allowing it to counteract oxidative free radicals. This
property makes ascorbate an ideal antioxidant that can protect cells and tissues as well as regenerate other antioxidants. In turn, various
nutrients and compounds, such as glutathione and alpha-lipoic acid, are able to regenerate vitamin C and extend its antioxidant protection.
Recognizing the importance of vitamin C as a protective antioxidant, the Institute of Medicine, an independent and non-profit organization
that provides advice on health and science to decision makers and the public, recommended increasing vitamin C requirements for
smokers due to their exposure to toxins and oxidative elements in cigarette smoke. Additionally, vitamin C is able to limit the formation of
carcinogens, such as nitrosamines.*
Vitamin C supplementation has been studied for more than six decades with respect to moderating the severity or duration of acute
immune challenges.[1,3,10] Benefits are most notable in cases of extreme physical stress. Within three meta-analyses, in a subgroup of six
studies, vitamin C reduced signs of acute immune challenge by an average of 50% in marathon runners, skiers, and soldiers that had been
physically stressed or exposed to cold temperatures.*
Adequate intake and retention is necessary to maintain vitamin C status in the body. Total stores can range from 300 mg (considered too
low to maintain health) to 2000 mg. The highest concentrations can be found in leukocytes, eyes, adrenal and pituitary glands, and the
brain. Relatively low levels are maintained in plasma, so plasma vitamin C measurement may not be useful in the assessment of vitamin
C status. According to pharmacokinetic studies, an oral dose of 1.25 g vitamin C per day will produce mean peak plasma concentrations
of 135 micromol/L (approximately twice the level reached by consuming 200-300 mg/d of ascorbic acid from foods rich in vitamin C). The
Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University recommends a base dose of 250 mg vitamin C twice a day. For optimal health, Dr.
Pauling recommends 2.3 g or more per 2500 kcals. Individual tolerance should be determined, as some ascorbic acid is metabolized to
oxalic acid and excreted in the urine. Bowel tolerance to higher doses of vitamin C may vary from individual to individual as well.*
1. NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Vitamin C. http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-HealthProfessional/.
Accessed September 3, 2012.
2. Schlueter AK, Johnston CS. Vitamin C: overview and update. Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine (JEBCAM).
2011; 16(1) 49-57. http://chp.sagepub.com/content/16/1/49.full.pdf+html. Accessed August 23, 2012.
3. Linus Pauling Institute. Vitamin C. Updated November 2009. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/vitamins/vitaminC/. Accessed August 15,
4. Johnston CS. The antihistamine action of ascorbic acid. Subcell Biochem. 1996;25:189-213. [PMID: 8821975]
5. Strohle A, Wolters M, Hahn A. Micronutrients at the interface between inflammation and infection—ascorbic acid and calciferol: part 1,
general overview with a focus on ascorbic acid. Inflamm Allergy Drug Targets. 2011 Feb;10(1):54-63. [PMID: 21184650]
6. MacKay D, Miller AL. Nutritional support for wound healing. Altern Med Rev. 2003 Nov;8(4):359-77. [PMID: 14653765]
7. Lanman TH, Ingalls TH. Vitamin C deficiency and wound healing: An experimental and clinical study. Ann Surg. 1937 Apr;105(4):616-25.
8. Jacob RA, Sotoudeh G. Vitamin C function and status in chronic disease. Nutr Clin Care. 2002 Mar-Apr;5(2):66-74. [PMID: 12134712]
9. Li Y, Schellhorn HE. New developments and novel therapeutic perspectives for vitamin C. J Nutr. 2007 Oct;137(10):2171-84. [PMID:
10. Wintergerst ES, Maggini S, Hornig DH. Immune-enhancing role of vitamin C and zinc and effect on clinical conditions. Ann Nutr Metab.
2006;50(2):85-94. [PMID: 16373990]
11. Douglas RM, Hemilä H, Chalker E, et al. Vitamin C for preventing and treating the common cold. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2007 Jul
18;(3):CD000980. [PMID: 17636648]
12. Pauling L. Evolution and the need for ascorbic acid. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 1970 Dec;67(4):1643-8. [PMID: 5275366]
13. BioPerine®. About BioPerine®. http://www.bioperine.com/about-bioperine.html. Accessed September 4, 2012.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.