Vitamin C gets even better; a new form of this essential vitamin known as Ester-C appears to be more readily absorbed by the body

Vitamin C gets even better; a new form of this essential vitamin known as Ester-C appears to be more readily absorbed by the body

Frank Murray

Vitamin C Gets Even Better

A new form of this essential vitamin known as Ester-C appears to be more readily absorbed by the body.

“Vitamin C supplementation may be useful, not only for lessening the severity of the common cold, but also for reducing virus transmission,” said Elliot Dick, Ph.D., professor of preventive medicine and chief of the Respiratory Virus Research Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin Center for Health Sciences, Madison.

Although Dr. Dick’s study was hailed as another contribution to the growing literature suggesting vitamin C can prevent or minimize the effects of a cold, some scientists were concerned about the relatively low dosage of 2 grams of vitamin C daily.

One of the skeptics, Madison, Wis. physician John P. Cleary, reported in Medical Tribune that 2 grams of vitamin C daily is “far too small to produce the maximal effect.

“When I notice any cold symptoms, I take 4 grams of vitamin C immediately and repeat the dose every four hours while awake,” Cleary said. “My cold last fall was gone in less than 24 hours. Vitamin C is a natural decongestant in these doses and improves the natural cell defenses against the virus. The addition of niacin 500 milligrams [mg] daily to the vitamin C treatment makes this even more effective, and a case of herpes zoster [shingles] cleared up in one week in a 60-year-old patient so treated. Aspirin and decongestants are not needed when you have effective vitamin therapy,” Dr. Cleary said.

For more than 20 years, Anthony J. Verlangieri, Ph.D., has been studying the role of vitamin C in the prevention of heart disease, diabetes and atherosclerosis, first at Rutgers University and now at the University of Mississippi, University, where he is professor of pharmacology and toxicology. Since 1982, he has been determining whether vitamins C and E help maintain healthy arteries.

“One of my greatest concerns is that people will be lulled into a false sense of security if they think simply lowering their cholesterol levels will prevent cardiovascular disease,” Dr. Verlangieri told Coronary Heart Disease Research Update.

Although Dr. Verlangieri believes cholesterol contributes to heart and artery diseases, he has long felt that cholesterol does not actually cause cardiovascular disease.

Dr. Verlangieri’s search for answers has concentrated on vitamins C and E based on the theory that insufficient amounts of these vitamins weaken the “cement” that holds together the thin layer of cells lining the arteries. Cholesterol in the bloodstream then begins to build up on the damaged areas, restricting and eventually blocking the flow of blood, thus causing heart attacks, strokes and — especially among diabetics — other complications associated with cardiovascular disease.”

Dr. Verlangieri said he is convinced that hardening of the arteries can only be eliminated by preventing the formation of arterial injury and preventing a buildup of cholesterol. Perhaps the most important finding of his studies is that supplementary doses of vitamins C and E actually reversed the atherosclerotic process.

Dr. Verlangieri and his colleagues recently have been comparing a new form of vitamin C called Ester-C with regular ascorbic acid. Ester-C is an esterified form of vitamin C or calcium polyascorbate.

In one study, Dr. Verlangieri and a colleague, Marilyn J. Bush, gave the two different forms of vitamin C to two groups of laboratory rats. Blood and urine samples were taken at 20-, 40-, 80-, 160- and 240- minute intervals.

The results indicated that the new form of vitamin C is absorbed more rapidly than 1-ascorbic acid, and it also is more fat-soluble than regular vitamin C. Ascorbic acid is water-soluble and therefore any daily excess is excreted. Fat soluble vitamins are stored in body fat for later use.

“If the unique structure of Ester-C promotes more rapid absorption and delayed excretion of ascorbic acid compared to the salt or acid forms of the vitamin, as the results of this experiment clearly imply, it may be advantageous in increasing circulating ascorbic acid concentration and promoting rapid tissue saturation,” the researchers said in Research Communications in Chemical Pathology and Pharmacology. “Such a result could be significant in reducing [illness and death] due to cardiovascular disease, cancer and respiratory illness, as well as other disorders in which relative ascorbic acid deficiency has been implicated.”

In another study, Jonathan V. Wright, M.D., a Kent, Wash. physician and Raymond M. Suen, M.T.ASCP., gave 12 men, ages 27 to 45, either 4,000 mg of Ester-C, 3,000 mg of L-ascorbic acid or 3,000 mg of citric acid daily. The vitamin C content of 4,000 mg Ester-C is equivalent to the vitamin C content of 3,000 mg L-ascorbic acid.

“Ester-C produced higher white blood cell levels, was excreted less in the urine, and was associated with lower urinary oxalate output than L-ascorbic acid,” the researchers concluded.

Because of the acidic nature of ascorbic acid, some people report intestinal disorders when they take regular vitamin C. The new form of vitamin C reportedly is neither alkaline nor acidic and therefore less likely to cause these problems.

In an unpublished study, Edwin Goertz, M.D., a Canadian researcher, said “during the past six years I have continued to use esterified C in approximately 300 patients with arthritis. It has been my experience that at least 50 percent have consistently reported beneficial results in their symptoms using [Ester C], either as primary treatment or as adjunctive therapy. Also I have never observed any toxic side effects to this product or had any adverse reactions when taken in conjunction with other medications. It may be of interest to note that several patients with psoriasis taking [esterified C] reported an improvement in this condition as well.”

In a study of 180 dogs, all with arthritic-like symptoms, researchers in Oslo, Norway, reported significant results with polyascorbate, an important observation since dogs normally make their own vitamin C. In a disease state, the animals apparently cannot synthesize enough of the vitamin to keep them healthy.

“Polyascorbate, given orally to this group [of dogs], displayed a tendency to afford symptomatic relief of chronic deforming changes in the joint and skeleton system in the majority of cases in this group of patients,” said Geir Erik Berge, D.V.M., Groruddalen Dyreklinikk, Oslo. “The polyascorbate should be a good alternative or addition to current treatments of this kind of ailment.

“Ascorbic acid is an extremely acidic, water-soluble molecule which, after absorption, is rapidly excreted through the kidneys, Berge said. “The ideal vitamin C molecule would be a neutral molecule which is absorbed rapidly and excreted slowly, thus allowing higher inter- and intra-cellular levels. The ideal vitamin C form has now been developed in the United States … in a patient-pending form of esterified ascorbate (polyascorbate) known as Ester-C.

“Polyascorbate is a complex mixture of calcium ascorbate molecules. The substance has a neutral pH in solution. The molecular weight, which is higher than traditional ascorbates, reduces the number of molecules per milligram and influences the [passage of fluids through a membrane] in the intestines for less than does ordinary ascorbic acid.”

Ester-C now is available in health food stores.

COPYRIGHT 1989 PRIMEDIA Intertec, a PRIMEDIA Company. All Rights Reserved.

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group