Vitamin C is one of the most widely known vitamins there is, and it has tons of natural sources, from citrus fruits to broccoli.
However, not that many people know what Buffered Vitamin C is or how supplement manufacturers buffer a vitamin in the first place.
In this article, we’ll be looking at the science behind buffered vitamins and how they differ from their standard forms to help you pick the best form of vitamins for your needs.
Vitamin C (also known as ascorbic acid) is an essential vitamin with many benefits, such as maintaining a healthy immune system, promoting wound healing and supporting cellular energy production. However, many vitamin C supplements are quite acidic, which causes gastrointestinal irritation and makes it especially tough for people with sensitive stomachs to get the vitamin C they need through supplements.
Buffered vitamin C supplements contain the same nutritional benefits as comparable vitamin C supplements but with added minerals to act like a ‘buffer’ for your stomach. By reducing the overall acidity of supplements, these extra ingredients help people take larger doses of vitamin C whilst reducing the discomfort caused by ingesting acidic vitamins.
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Most vitamin C supplements contain ascorbic acid – a water-soluble, sugar-based acid form of vitamin C – which is sour, acidic and can cause gastric irritation in larger doses. Although ascorbic acid is easy to synthesize and widely available, taking it in an unbuffered form makes it harder for your body to absorb and is more likely to cause stomach issues.
Contrastingly, buffered vitamin C is made from mineral salts and ascorbic acid, resulting in a less acidic supplement that you can take in higher doses before upsetting your stomach.
Both forms of vitamin C have virtually identical nutritional benefits, but the lower PH levels of buffered vitamin C supplements means it is less likely to cause stomach issues or kidney stones, avoiding many of vitamin C’s side effects.
Based on the lower acidity and reduced side effects of buffered vitamin C supplements, it’s easy to see that they are better for you than unbuffered vitamin C.
Vitamin C is water-soluble, and supplements can come in a wide variety of forms – from powder and pills to lozenges and wafers – which are usually designed to be taken orally. To put it simply, using buffered vitamin C supplements is as simple as taking a tablet by mouth – with or without food – one or two times daily for the best results.
According to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) of vitamin C for people aged four and above is 60mg, regardless of gender.
Taking higher doses of vitamin C may help support immune function, iron absorption and healthy pregnancies, though you should be careful not to exceed the safe Upper Limit of 2g (or 2,000mg) a day.
Vitamin C is an essential vitamin that supports your health in a wide variety of ways, and while it can be found in many fruits and vegetables, supplements help boost your daily intake. Furthermore, buffered vitamin C supplements minimize the side effects of taking high doses of vitamin C whilst providing lots of health benefits, including:
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect your cells from harmful molecules called free radicals, which cause inflammation and oxidative stress.
Increased levels of inflammation put you at greater risk of chronic disease, so consuming more vitamin C can increase your blood antioxidant levels, reduce inflammation and reduce your risk of chronic disease.
High blood pressure affects roughly one-third of American adults, putting them at risk of heart disease – the leading cause of death worldwide.
Fortunately, studies have shown that buffered vitamin C supplements reduce blood pressure after a few weeks, meaning they could help lower your risk of heart disease.
Many factors like high blood pressure and cholesterol increase your risk of heart disease, but supplementing with vitamin C may help to reduce these risk factors.
Analysis of multiple studies found that taking at least 500mg of vitamin C per day helped to reduce the risk of heart disease, but if you already get plenty of vitamin C, you may not benefit from taking more.
Gout is a type of arthritis that involves inflammation of the joints and is caused by excess uric acid, a waste product that your kidneys normally filter out.
Rich foods, excessive alcohol consumption and obesity all contribute to gout but taking buffered vitamin C supplements helps reduce uric acid in the blood, lowering your risk of gout.
Iron is an essential nutrient used in making red blood cells and transporting oxygen throughout the body, though it can be tough to get enough from your food, especially on meat-free diets.
Taking vitamin C helps improve iron absorption, reducing the risk of anemia and helping raise low blood iron levels, making it highly beneficial for people prone to iron deficiencies and those on meat-free diets.
One of the most well-known benefits of vitamin C supplements is that they boost your immune response, as vitamin C is involved in multiple parts of the immune system.
Taking buffered vitamin C supplements can encourage white blood cell production and effectivity, boosting your immune response and helping you recover from cold, flu and other illnesses more quickly.
Studies suggest that oxidative stress and inflammation caused by free radicals increases your risk of dementia (a broad term used to describe a loss of mental abilities) as you age.
Although vitamin C is incredibly beneficial, and buffered supplements are a great way to maintain a high daily intake with less stomach irritation, you can get too much of a good thing.
Taking too many buffered vitamin C supplements might not set your stomach off (thanks to the gentle buffer of mineral salts), but it can have some pretty nasty side effects, including:
Because vitamin C (also known as ascorbic acid) is acidic, consuming high amounts can cause stomach issues like diarrhea and nausea. You’re most likely to experience these symptoms when taking excessive amounts of vitamin C, so make sure not to exceed the tolerable upper limit of 2,000mg a day and reduce your intake if you notice any digestive problems.
Vitamin C improves iron absorption, which is usually a good thing but can increase your iron levels to dangerous levels if you suffer from certain conditions.
For example, if you suffer from hemochromatosis, which increases the risk of iron accumulation, taking high dose buffered vitamin C supplements can cause iron overload.
Because vitamin C is water-soluble, your body flushes out excess amounts as oxalate, which your body typically purges via urine.
However, oxalate may bind to minerals and form crystals that lead to the formation of kidney stones, so taking excessive amounts of vitamin C puts you at a higher risk of kidney stones due to increased oxalate levels.
Regular vitamin C can cause stomach upset, especially when taken in higher doses, and your body can struggle to absorb the quantities you need for improved immune response and other benefits. Compared to buffered vitamin C, the unbuffered form is less bioavailable and more likely to cause discomfort, so buffering the vitamin helps improve absorption and reduce some side effects.
Buffered vitamin C – created by adding a mineral salt to ascorbic acid – resists changes in PH, making it less acidic and improving both absorption and side effects. While adding a mineral such as calcium may seem like a tiny change, buffering vitamin C allows you to take higher doses with less risk of stomach upset, making it great for people with sensitive stomachs.
According to the National Institute of Health, bioavailability is “the amount of (a given nutrient) in food, medications, and supplements that are absorbed in the intestines and ultimately available.” So, if you take a supplement that is designed to be high in bioavailability, your body should be able to absorb, use and/or store all of the vitamin and minerals content, increasing its effectiveness.
Although diagnosed vitamin C deficiencies are rare in the US, some people struggle to get enough vitamin C from their diet, so they turn to buffered vitamin C supplements.
People who may be at risk of vitamin C deficiencies include older people, smokers and those on restricted diets, so you should make sure to get plenty of vitamin C if you fall into one of those categories.
There are lots of reasons to take buffered vitamin C, whether you’re looking to increase your antioxidant levels or boost your immune system, but not all supplements are created equal. When searching for dietary supplements, you should make sure that you:
Vitamin C is a highly versatile ingredient that can be powdered, mixed into liquids, turned into gummies or infused into wafers, so you can take it in (virtually) any form you like.
Tablets are convenient and widely available, but some people prefer to add a little fun to their health routine by choosing gummy vitamins, though both are valid ways to get more vitamins in your diet.
RELATED: If you’re unsure of which form is best for you, read our detailed breakdown on the pros and cons of Gummy Vitamins Vs Pills here.
As we mentioned previously, taking excessive amounts of buffered vitamin C can lead to some pretty unpleasant side effects, so you need to make sure that your daily dose does not exceed the upper limit of 2g daily.
Contrastingly, smaller quantities of vitamin C may not provide any noticeable benefits, so you want to take more than 500mg and less than 2,000mg to see benefits like reduced blood pressure and immune support.
Because the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t regulate dietary supplements, the quality and contents can vary wildly between manufacturers.
When shopping for supplements, seek out products approved by 3rd party certifying authorities such as US Pharmacopeia or NSF International so you can be sure that they are manufactured to strict guidelines and contain all the active ingredients they claim to have.
Vitamin C is an essential vitamin with a huge array of health benefits, so there are plenty of reasons to get more fruit and veg in your diet or consider supplements. However, pure ascorbic acid is harsh on your stomach, making buffered vitamin C supplements ideal for people with sensitive stomachs and those who want to take higher doses of vitamin C.
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