The below article was originally published in our June, 2011 e-newsletter.
by Daniel P. Kray, Senior Editor
Published June 22, 2011
We like Vitamin C for a lot of things, from prevention to post-infection treatment. That's why we're concerned about the popularity of certain hyped Vitamin C products. A natural cold and flu remedy would be great, but what sort of extra baggage is hitching a ride on these packs of Vitamin C supplements? Turns out, a pair of unnecessary ingredients, aspartic acid (or asparagine) and sucralose, are often tagging along. You may have to look into the fine print of the ingredients list, but you'll be surprised at how often they show up.
L-aspartic acid is one of our non-essential amino acids. The body makes it, so we don't need to get it from our diets. We definitely need it for energy creation, nerve function, and a host of other bodily activities. But like most good things, too much can be bad. In excess, aspartic acid becomes an excitotoxin, revving the neurons and nervous system up so high that nerve damage can be a result. In effect, excitotoxins cause our neurons to die from excitement!
In fact, if the facts behind Aspartame make you uncomfortable, aspartic acid is a large part (40%) of the reason. In our bodies, this artificial sweetener breaks down into phenylalanine, methanol, and aspartic acid. Methanol is just plain toxic, but the overdose of amino acids can likewise do great harm. Sucralose (Splenda) is of course much the same thing as Aspartame-an artificial sweetener. This one mostly passes out of the body without being metabolized, but some 15-20% does not pass out of the body immediately. Since sucralose is an organochloride (an organic chlorine compound), many of us are justifiably concerned about the possibility of introducing free chlorine molecules into our bloodstream and tissues. Makes you nostalgic for good old belly-expanding glucose!
Since the liver can produce aspartic acid whenever bodily levels are low, we never experience true aspartic acid deficiencies, so there is no need to get it through supplements. Easy then, we won't take aspartic acid supplements. That is, unless we don't know it's there in our other supplements! Now, weight lifting supplements often contain aspartic acid along with a medley of the other amino acids, so there is an issue there. However, for the Earth Clinic community we're more concerned about products like Ester-C (the brand) and Emergen-C, both of which add aspartic acid to their Vitamin C supplements. Just check out the Other Ingredients on the fine print on this ingredients list to see for yourself.
Products advertised as energy boosters frequently contain aspartic acid, as do whey powder products. Airborne and Super C Vitamin C products do not seem to use aspartic acid (please do not read that as a general endorsement); however, Airborne and Super C do contain sucralose as a sweetener, as do FRS Healthy Energy products.
Additionally, you're likely to find aspartic acid in these products:
- Various collagen formulas
- _____ Liquid Aminos
- Many potassium-magnesium supplements
- Many folic acid tablets
- Many lipoic acid supplements
- Many Nature's Plus products
- Some Solgar vitamin supplements
- Some Nutritech supplements
Now, plenty of foods naturally contain aspartic acid as well, and the body is happy to find it there. It is nature-made, not man-made (unlike sucralose). We don't want to alarm anyone, just let you know what you're potentially putting in your body. Toxic levels of this amino acid are definitely possible, so take a look at your supplement labels and make the best choice for your own health.
The following Earth Clinic reader contributions (and a note from Ted) should help you make the decision that is right for you.
Vitamin C and Excitotoxins
Catherine from Seattle, WA writes: "I was fighting a sinus infection last week after landing in California and went to a Whole Foods to get some Vitamin C. I decided to get Emergen-C to add to water because it had a really tempting fruity flavor. Immediately after taking my first packet (which was delicious), I felt a weird sensation in my head and then I got really edgy (as in bad mood edgy). I read the ingredients on the box and sure enough, the vitamin C used in this brand is Aspartic acid, an excitotoxin. The Emergen-C also contained "natural flavors", aka MSG. I waited 24 hours and tried again to see if I would have the same side effects. Again, within a minute of drinking the packet, I got the same sensation in my head. My question is, are you doing more good or harm to the body when you take this form of vitamin c?!!"
Ted from Bangkok, Thailand replies: "Aspartic acid is a well known excitotoxin and so is monosodium glutamate or MSG. In the long run it's going to destroy the immune system through a neurodegenerative disorder. Once the excitotoxin is destroyed the immune system is down. Now in a pharmaceutical formulation adding this results in the need to take that since you get sicker and so you might feel some relief, the long term is it's going to make a person sicker, which result in greater sales for product with excitotoxins added. Now imagine a child who is a borderline autism, ADHD, these can result in many other neurodegenerative disorders and metabolic acidosis. As for me decades ago I took accidentally soft drinks with aspartame resulting in deafness, but also a permanent partial macular degeneration of the eyes. So the systematic destruction is almost wholesale if given long term use. Luckily Emergen C is not sold in Thailand, although some friends of mine have given me this, I don't take it. I prefer to buy bulk vitamin C and mix them myself. There are other excitotoxins, but aspartic acid, aspartame, monosodium glutamate, and glutamic acid are the most well known...
Therefore most effervescent products sometimes they are not labeled so I ended up calling the factory sometimes. One easy way to measure excitotoxin poisoning is that the urinary pH suddenly become very acid, such as pH 5.5 or lower and even taking more baking soda barely raise the pH long enough to be satisfactory. Such as it can't raise the pH for the entire day. It also takes weeks for the pH to be near normal after taking b complex and baking soda for a week or two. A long term taking of this can also resulted in higher urinary sugar and damaged pancreas, besides damaging the brain. One of the worse advertisement I have seen is Michael J. Fox supporting Diet Pepsi, which contains aspartame, and he himself has Parkinson's disease, which will make such conditions much worse. The remedy is not to take aspartame for Parkinson's disease or to undergo stem cells, since it's not yet legal at the moment and stem cell research has been blocked for at least 8 years. Methylene blue taken at 2 drops at 0.1% concentration might reverse some of the effects of excitotoxins as it is one of my remedies for Parkinson's disease also.
Taking excitotoxins is a long term damage that may lead to degenerative disorders, metabolic acidosis, and lowered immune system. Therefore I would avoid them as best as I can.
Supplements Brought on Rage
Wes from Webster, TX writes: "I'm 220 and work out almost everyday. I started taking 2000mg of vitamin C. Ester C tablets. A few days later I noticed I was very easily enraged. I did this for about 4 weeks and decided it wasn't worth it. I recently started taking and animal pack vitamin package. After taking for several days I noticed the same effect. Read the ingredient 2000 mg Vitamin C. So I stopped taking it. Is there anyway to counteract the aggressiveness. IE some other vitamin."
Christine replies: "This afternoon, I visited your site and noted a comment by a reader who said that Ester C made him enraged. It's not the Vitamin C, it's the aspartic acid in the Ester C product. I verified this with an aspartame activist. Aspartic acid is an excitotoxin, a poison that kills brain cells. Yep, it's the same stuff as in aspartame. All of the studies done on Vitamin C were done with sodium ascorbate, which is a type of chemically buffered Vitamin C. It's best to take it as a powder in water, because you can get gastritis if you take too many pills."
© 2011 Earth Clinic. All Rights Reserved.
Troutdale, Or, Usa
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR OWN VITAMIN C POWDER!!!! Do this at home and you will know you are taking a high quality supplement straight from the source. Organic citrus fruits have all the good stuff in their pulp and peel.
-Cut the peels into thin strips and lay them out on cheesecloth, or use a dehydrator to dry out the peels. After a few days, or when fully dry, put the dried peels into a coffee grinder to make into a powder. One spoonfull is said to be all you need for a whole day. Add the powder to your food or drinks, store in an airtight container.
You can use organic grapefruit, tangerines, oranges, lemons or limes. :-)
St. John's, Newfoundland And Labrador, Canada
Taking Vitamin C in Solution
Hi Everyone...With good reason, Ted has long advised that Vit C in the form of Ascorbic Acid should be converted to its Ascorbate form because this form is more alkaline, more absorbable and uses up less bicarbonates from your body's digestive system.
This means getting out your mortar and pestal, crunching up your Ascorbic acid tablets then adding water and finally adding the baking soda(sodium bicarbonate) -- let it finish fizzing -- then drinking it down.
I take Vit C most days with lysine and discovered something useful.
Today, I just filled a glass full of water and plopped in 4 X 500 gm tablets of ascorbic acid. Then I just added 1/4 to 1/2 teasoon of baking soda to it. It fizzed away and dissolved for about three minutes and then the tablets simply disappeared into solution as Sodium Ascorbate -- a bit like Alka-Seltzer !!
Then I just scraped off the residue of bubbles off the top of the solution (which contains all the insoluble binder additives like mag stearate, calcium Trihosphate, micro-cellulose, starch etc.) and drank it down.
So, no tablet crunching necessary really.
Mobile, Alabama, Us
San Fernando, Luzon, Philippines
Which is the best kind of vitamin C one can take? Is it normal one, is it Ester-C or something else? Pills, powder, solvable? And although many books advise quite high doses of Vitamin C there are experts, including my homeopathic doctor who believe that it can help cancer develop. Is this true?
Princeton, N J
Ny, Ny, Usa
I used to have angina. Probably for 2-3 years. Never severe but painful nonetheless. What brought about the end of angina was megadoses of Vit C. I had been taking probably 20+ grams/day for stubborn allergies in the spring of the year. I continued to take it at night for dust mite allergies at bedtime instead of medications. I noticed one day in the fall that I hadn't had any chest pains for quite a while. It's been I think two years now since I had any. Vitamin C megadoses, according to Linus Pauling and Matthias Rath, allow the arteries to heal which reverses plaque buildup in all but completely blocked arteries. They also recommend adding L-Lysine and Proline to your regime along with the C.
I added Baking Soda to my ACV treatment and had many of the side effects others mention on this site. Baking Soda lowers Vitamin C levels and this can lead to symptoms of scurvy. I had to do a lot of research to find this out. I woke up with a purple spot/bruise on my leg and that convinced me, as I had not bumped into anything to bruise myself. The purple bruise looking spot is a sign of scurvy. Luckily, it was recommened to me to take Vitamin C for Constipation. I was sooo sick (my asthma was out of control) last night and the night before. I did not know that Vitamin C actually helps Astmatics.
I took 6 mgs of Vitamin C last night in error. I picked up the wrong size of measuring spoon!!..luckily! I had been up the prior two nights coughing up mucus, but last night I slept through the night. I couldn't figure it out since I needed to take bendryl the other nights just to not choke on the mucus. It appears that the 6 mg of Vitamin C did it's job to replenish my Vitamin C and to help with my asthma.
I woke up with the usual morning junk to cough up and spit out. I took 1000 mg of vitamin C and it stopped this problem dead in it's tracks. People need to read about what vitamin C does, especially for people with Asthma and food allergies. Also, the baking soda should NOT be recommended on this site.
It depletes the Vitamin C. If someone is already low in Vitamin C it can cause Survy Symptoms as it did in me.
I love this site, but I think promoting Baking Soda that depletes Vitamin C is wrong. Also, I love Apple Cider Vinegar and it is promoted her as the top natural relief, but I never hear any talk of vitamin C. It works wonders for Asthma, Hay fever and a load of Respiratory illnesses and other illnesses.
Vitamin C cured my wifes' bacterial vaginosis. She used 250mg of ascorbic acid by breaking off 1/4 of a 1000mg caplet and using it as a suppository. Within one day the odor was gone. She plans on continuing this for a week or so to make sure it's gone.
How do I buffer Vitamin C powder? In a book I am reading right now Linus Pauling says that he used to buffer his Vitamin C by dissolving it in orange juice but how does it work given the fact that orange juice is also an acid? Or else he added bicarbonate of soda but he doesn't say how much. Right now I am taking 2g powder and 4g in tablets. I don't want to take more tablets because of the fillings as I am afraid that if you take many a day they will do you more harm than good. Also, in the book he says that he used to take 12g in the morning but I ask myself whether he took them in many glasses of water as I find 2g in a glass of water already quite strong.
San Fernando, San Fernando, Philippines
I started taking increased doses of Vitamin C a number of years ago at my doctor's recommendation for a tendency to bruise easily. One of the other unexpected benefits is that my sinuses cleared up. I used to wake up sneezing and would continue throughout the morning, sometimes through the entire day, year round. After experimenting with different dosages, I am now on a maintenance level of 2000 mg of Vitamin C daily and this keeps my allergies under control usually 50-51 weeks out of the year. Occasionally, I may have a flare-up and need something else. When that happens, I stir 1 teaspoon of ground Turmeric into an 8 oz. glass of water and drink it. Within 15 minutes, I am breathing freely once again and no more sneezing!
Is food grade Citric Acid powder a viable type of vitamin C supplement? I bought this thinking it was a healthy alternative to tablets, capsules and then realized that maybe ascobic acid was really what I wanted. Is there any benefits from citric acid or a way to take it for supplementation?
My partner woke up with a very heavy cold and so we decided, following an article we had read to take 6 grams of vit c every 20 mins until he hit near diararea. At that point you back off and just take around 20 grams every 3 hours. It totally worked. It was incredable to see. There he was sneezing and coughing, runny nose and then it all stopped. Like turning off a tap. But make sure you keep with it for at least another 3 days. Look up cold on the vit c website for more info. I also felt one coming on and did the same thing. No cold.
I too have taken Vitamin C for colds and flu for over 20 years.
I had a friend of mine who got a full body flu...he said he ached from head to toe...he was shivering and sweating a lot and looked very pale. I suggested that Vitamin C might help...to take 500mg every hour (if wake up a night = take another 500mg). He took the C with a little snack, like a cracker or small slice of bread...something to buffer his stomach from the acid. Within 24 hours all his symptoms were gone and didn't come back.
When I first notice symptoms of a cold coming on (slightly swollen throat or my nose starting to drip or pressure in head or just a feeling some kind of bacteria has gotten into the body), I immediately start the following:
If the symptoms are mild, I will take 500 to 1000mg Vitamin C powder (can also use capsules or tabs) every 2 hours. I sometimes add it to my Apple Cider Vinegar and Honey tea, or just with water or just before a meal...but I never take the C on an empty stomach.
If the symptoms are bad, I will take 500 to 1000mg C every hour.
What happens in the body is that when a person has a cold or flu, they tend to have to urinate more. When sick the body uses up Vitamin C very fast. Even if you take 5000mg or more in one shot, within 2 hours all of it will be gone through the urine. That's why it is so important to take it in smaller doses every hour or two.
I discovered this approach from Adelle Davis in her book Let's Get Well...it was published in the 1960s. I have been able to kill all cold and flu symptoms within about 24 hours for over the last 20 years...I have not had a full blown cold or flu since. The Keys are (1) start early when first get symptoms and (2) take the Vitamin C every hour or two until better.
Colds and Allergies
My children usually get sick at the beginning of the spring and the beginning of fall... most likely allergies. They also usually get whatever sickness is going around school. For the last year, I've been successfully giving my 6 and 8 year olds 500 mgs of vitamin c under the recommendation from the Linus Pauling Foundation. They love the chewables (ascorbic acid). They havent gotten sick AT ALL in that time. Meanwhile, my 13 year old has gotten broncitis and pneumonia who refuses to take the vitamin c. I've been trying to get her to take the vitamin c but she is not big into the taste of the chewables and doesn't like taking pills. Everytime she gets sick, I try to reason with her that the other two are not getting sick anymore, and in fact, NONE of us are, so why is she the only one in our house getting sick?? It used to go from one of us to the next and the next like a domino effect. Now, it's just her.( My husband and I take 2000 mg of Vitamin C per day, also recommeded by the Linus Pauling Institute)
Dream Inducer: I stumbled upon this years ago when I was taking as much as possible to battle a nasty cold bug, but chewable vitamin C tablets (500mg) right before bed produce vivid dreams. I occasionally have some just before bed for fun, and it never fails.
I always use 4000 mg of vit C, if I get food poisoning. It has worked well in the past.