• #9-1. History and Benefits of Vitamin C: Selecting the Right Vitamin C

     

    In this article, we are going to briefly review the manufacturing process of Vitamin C and what is commonly known about the benefits of vitamin C. Vitamin C was first discovered in the UK in 1929 by Dr. Hopkins. You may have seen advertisements of vitamin C products that state they are made in the UK.The chemical formula of vitamin C was clarified in 1932 by another British chemist Norman Haworth. Haworth received the 1937Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on carbohydrates and vitamin C. The UK may be called the birth place of vitamin C.

     

    In the 18th century, many British sailors who were out on the sea for months died from bleeding. The number of military men who died this way was ten times larger than those that perished on the battleground. An army surgeon named James Lind saw that very sick sailors quickly recovered health after African islanders gave them lemon juice. Lind concluded that the cause of death of so many sailors was due to not ingesting fresh vegetables and fruits for a long time. This led to all ships carrying fresh lemons and vegetables as they headed out to the sea.

     

    Vitamin C is also known as ascorbic acid. The condition that leads to bleeding and death from vitamin C deficiency is called scurvy. The term “ascorbic acid” was coined by adding a prefix “a-“ to “scurvy” to signify anti-scurvy.

     

     

    In many animals, vitamin C is naturally produced. However, humans and some primates are unable to produce vitamin C. Vitamin C is derived from glucose, a metabolite ofcarbohydrates. This process consists of five steps, each of which is carried out by an enzyme. As humans lack the enzyme involved in the fourth step, they cannot produce vitamin C. Humans are only one enzyme away from naturally producing this important vitamin.

     

    Corn is often used to obtain glucose needed to make vitamin C in commercial supplement products. Corn is the preferred source of carbohydrates due to its low cost. Corn carbohydrates is degraded and added with enzymes to obtain vitamin C. Some people prefer natural vitamin C, however, it can be very expensive. For example, only 50mg of vitamin C can be extracted from a 100g orange. To get 500mg, you would need 10 oranges. Therefore, be wary of low-priced products that claim to contain 100% natural vitamin C. Affordable vitamin C supplements derived from corn is just as beneficial.

     

    The UK produces about 80% of vitamin C supplements in the world and China produces about 20%. It is safe to say that all vitamin C products imported to Korea come from the UK. DSM, a Scottish company, is famous for producing high quality vitamin C supplements. Almost all vitamin C products sold under local brands are imported from the UK.  

     

    -To be continued

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