What actually goes into vitamin C? The vitamin C you buy on the shelf does not come from an orange. It does, in fact, originate from a grapefruit or any other fruit. It is a laboratory-produced chemically refined component of corn starch.
I was, until I started looking into the ingredients of the supplements on the shelves. A quick look at the vitamin C supplements in my local supermarket revealed that they were loaded with fillers, sweeteners, and industrial “flow agents” that are used to make paints and PVC piping.
Why is this taking place? Simply put, money.
Production of vitamin C is a big business. It is the most widely used supplement in the world today (1), and a quick search yielded over 122,851 research studies (2) that are related to its use.
It is the most well-known antioxidant that is required for over 300 metabolic reactions in the body, and its benefits include supporting the immune system, wound healing, and the production of hormones that reduce stress.
It’s no wonder it’s a best seller because of its impressive resume. What is being sold should be your only concern.
Whole Food Vitamins The current form of vitamin C available on the market is ascorbic acid, which is produced in a laboratory from corn starch. Since ascorbic acid is widely recognized as the primary active ingredient in vitamin C, there is not necessarily a problem with that. However, despite its age as the complete vitamin, ascorbic acid is not the only active ingredient in vitamin C. Normally happening L-ascorbic acid additionally contains rutin (a bioflavonoid), natural copper and different cell reinforcements that might collaborate with the ascorbic corrosive to make it more viable.
It’s time for some common sense, science aside. A chemical isolate or a natural compound that has been around for thousands of years is likely to be more effective in your body.
Choosing vitamins from whole food sources is much better. As opposed to other forms of vitamins, these supplements are typically made from real, unprocessed fruits and vegetables in their natural state.
Sadly, picking entire food nutrients is just essential for the arrangement on account of the synthetic substances that go into making the nutrient later on.
Sweet Teeth? A quick look at the vitamin C sold at your local supermarket revealed a staggering number of chemicals that aren’t needed.
We found a lot of the sweeteners sorbitol, mannitol, and aspartame in the ingredients list of our first nine products.
How do we know that a lot of them were there?
At the mixing bowl stage of production, items must be listed in descending volume, according to the Food Standards Agency (3). In simple terms, this means that the more of an ingredient you add, the closer it must be to the top of the list of ingredients. All of the sweeteners we discovered were near the top.
Filling in the Blanks Maltodextrin, another significant ingredient, was near the top of the list of ingredients.
Maltodextrin is a complex carbohydrate that is directly converted into glucose during metabolism. It does not increase a supplement’s nutritional value other than as a source of carbohydrates. If you take a vitamin C supplement, you probably want vitamin C and not a carbohydrate.
Why then do supplement manufacturers include it in their products?
Back to our previous topic, money.
Companies add “fillers” like maltodextrin to bulk up the product and make the capsules or tablets bigger so that we believe we are getting better value for our money because natural ingredients that add nutritional value typically cost a lot. However, filler materials are inexpensive.
Maltodextrin, which makes the actual ingredients go a long way, makes approximately 1600 tablets from two pounds sterling. Unfortunately, you won’t get much for your money.
Magnesium Stearate We also discovered magnesium stearate, which is yet another ineffective additive. It comes from enhancing animal cartilage and is also known as magnesium salt. Beef is typically used as a source in supplements.
Magnesium stearate is used by manufacturers as both a flow agent and a filler, providing a double dose of harmful chemical additives.
For a moment, picture a vitamin production machine with, if you’re lucky, fruits and vegetables at one end and tablets at the other. Fruits are like being blended together in a machine—very messy and, most importantly, sticky. To ensure that none of the ingredients stick to the machinery, particularly at the speeds at which it is operated, the manufacturers must employ a flow agent. What’s the issue, then? A typical tablet machine can produce 10,000 tablets per hour.
Because the governments of the United Kingdom and the United States classify magnesium stearate as a hazardous substance, everyone who sells it is required to distribute an MSDS for it.
A Material Safety and Data Sheet (MSDS) is a guide to the potential dangers associated with using the chemical it describes.
The following are the dangers of magnesium stearate, according to one large manufacturer:
Short-Term Harm: On contact, irritating to the skin and eyes. The lungs and mucus membrane will be irritated by inhalation. Eye irritation will result in watery eyes and redness. Inflammation of the skin is characterized by scaling, reddening, and itchiness. When handling this compound, always wear protective gear and practice safe industrial hygiene.
In their report, they do, however, state whether it is safe to consume.
Their conclusion is as follows:
Magnesium Stearate’s chemical, physical, and toxicological properties have not been thoroughly studied to our knowledge.
Therefore, they basically do not know whether it is secure. Once more, it’s time to use your common sense. Do you want to eat this if it will irritate your eyes, skin, and lungs, if you should wear protective gear when handling it, and if they don’t really know if it’s safe?
In a nutshell, almost all of the vitamin C supplements you can find on the shelf are made from refined corn starch rather than any kind of fruit at all. Additionally, they are very likely to contain a majority of sweeteners and fillers, as well as Magnesium Stearate, a potentially harmful “flow agent” and filler material.
Does this imply that vitamin manufacturers worldwide are conspiring to poison us with low-cost chemicals? No. They don’t appear to know for sure whether these chemicals are safe or not.
One thing is certain: if you buy a supplement that contains any of these ingredients, you won’t get a good deal.
Reading the label is your only defense. Choose with care.