Vitamin C is a Chemical

Ignorance is frustrating. Here’s an article about the camu camu fruit touting the benefits of “Natural (not synthetic)” vitamin C.

Vitamin C is a chemical. There’s no way around it. Here’s the wikipedia article on Vitamin C, which lists the chemical formula and shows a picture of the structure. As a chemical, there is no difference between “natural” and “synthetic” vitamin C; they both have the chemical formula C6H8O6 . They might be talking about the beneficial effect of the chemicals that come along with the vitamin C found in the camu camu, but that has nothing to do with whether the vitamin C itself is natural or synthetic.

By the way, camu camu is actually second on the list of fruits with high vitamin C content. The kakadu plum is up to 5% vitamin C by weight.


2 thoughts on “Vitamin C is a Chemical

  1. Jason

    Geoff, I believe the fact is that Vitamins are best taken in a “wholistic” manner as naturally absorbed ascorbic acid through citrus and other fruit; that is to say not simply a “shot” of C6H8O6 along with, say, a hamburger and fries, but a balanced approach along with other essential nutrients.

    You are absolutely correct however. The Kakadu plum does indeed have the highest Vitamin C of all fruit, it could be however that the natural news author is not aware of the Kakadu, since it’s an Australian aboriginal fruit, yet Camu Camu is available just south of the border.

    I have a new post which shows the top 10 superfruits with the highest vitamin C content here on my blog which you might find useful.

    1. gcanyon Post author

      My point isn’t that there aren’t any other useful chemicals in food, or in Kakadu plums, but that the distinction between “natural” and “synthetic” is false. The quote from the article I was complaining about is, “Natural (not synthetic) vitamin C is an antioxidant that prevents free radical damage to the DNA of the cells throughout your body, which helps in the prevention of cancer and heart disease (among other health problems).” This is clearly misleading, since synthetic vitamin C is chemically identical to “natural” vitamin C.

      Further, to simply say that there are other useful nutrients in foods that contain vitamin C is both true and insufficient. Without identifying what nutrients in what amounts, and without identifying the requirement for those nutrients, the most that can be said is, “Eat a variety of foods, and a vitamin pill on the side is an okay idea.” The whole point of vitamins is that they are essential nutrients. Without vitamin C humans develop scurvy. Without B1, beriberi, B12, Biermer’s disease, etc. “Essential” has a specific medical definition that most phytochemicals don’t meet, even though they might be health-promoting.


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