Vitamin C is probably one of the best-known vitamins around.
Growing up, we always had a bottle on the kitchen table, conveniently found on the ‘lazy Susan’. W
e typically had chewable, orange-flavored tablets in either 250 mg or 500 mg dosages.
Taking one with breakfast, along with a multivitamin with minerals was just part of my family’s morning routine at breakfast.
My mother instilled the importance of good nutrition at an early age, whether she was aware of it or not, and the foundation for the proper use of a dietary supplement was also laid.
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What is vitamin C?
Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is one of the 50 essential nutrients you need every day for optimal health.
Vitamin C is water soluble meaning it’s found in bodily compartments that are water-based such as the blood, in the spaces in between cells and within cells themselves. Because vitamin C isn’t fat soluble, it doesn’t make its way into fatty tissue such as your fat cells or within the fatty part of the membrane that makes up the cells of your body.
Human beings have lost the ability to make their own vitamin C, unlike most other animals. Therefore, we must get it from our diet (or supplements).
Vitamin C is an essential cofactor in various biochemical reactions such as collagen and carnitine synthesis, regulation of gene expression, immune support, neuropeptide production and more.
What does vitamin C do?
Besides being a cofactor in various biochemical reactions, vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant.
What is oxidation? Think of it this way. Oxidation is what happens to an apple core when it’s exposed to the air, it browns or when an iron nail is exposed to water and oxygen; it rusts.
Oxidation of bodily structures like protein, fats, carbohydrates, and even the DNA, found in all tissues and organs, increases inflammation and the risk for chronic degenerative diseases. In the case of DNA, oxidation can lead to mutations increasing the risk of cancer.
Vitamin C helps to prevent this from happening. It protects you from dangerous compounds generated during normal metabolism. Vitamin C also protects you from free radicals from exposure to toxins and pollutants.
These toxins include first or second-hand smoke, exposure to, and the metabolism/breakdown of recreational and prescription drugs.
Other toxins include alcohol, air pollution, inflammation from trans fats and diets high in sugar and refined carbohydrates. You’re exposed to toxins produced by viruses, bacteria and other pathogens that your immune is faced with every day.
What are the benefits of taking vitamin C?
There are many benefits from getting more vitamin C in your diet and by including vitamin C supplements. Vitamin C is a versatile nutrient that supports your health in many ways including*:
- Helps the body to metabolize fats and proteins.
- A factor in energy production
- Aids in the development and maintenance of bones, cartilage, teeth, and gums.
- It helps in connective tissue formation.
- It helps with wound healing.
- An antioxidant for the maintenance of good health.
- Protects against free radicals and the damage & oxidative effects of free radicals
- Helps to prevent vitamin C deficiency
- Supports a healthy immune system & reduces the risk of chronic diseases
- Supports collagen production for healthier skin, muscles, ligaments, cartilage and joints
- Improves the appearance of skin; more supple, improved clarity [see details about skin study below]
- A dietary antioxidant that significantly decreases the adverse effects of free radicals on normal physiological function & lipid oxidation in body tissues
- Supports optimal overall health
* Health Canada approved health & function claims
However, vitamin C is only as good as its ability to be where it needs to be and in amounts known to confer the greatest benefit. This why lypospheric technology is arguably superior for delivery of nutrients. If these formulations are absorbed and distributed throughout the body better, what are some liposomal vitamin C benefits?
What are liposomes?
A liposome is a very tiny sphere comprised of an outer wall of fat (membrane) and an inner payload of any number of water-soluble substances. Of particular interest is that the liposome’s membrane is made of the same fat found in the cell membranes throughout your body: phospholipids.
Because of this, liposomes have actually been studied as artificial models of cells. However, liposomes are vastly smaller than any of the cells in your body, allowing them to pass into cells without difficulty.
What really makes the liposome so special is that can deliver its contents (nutrients) directly into the cells of your body without the consumption of energy. An added bonus, liposomes protect its contents from digestion or oxidation before the final delivery into your cells.
When a nutrient can be delivered into the cells of your body, not be degraded before delivery, and not consume energy in the process, the benefits of that nutrient can be optimized in a way that even intravenous delivery often does not match. Liposomal vitamin C is great for that reason.
What Are The Benefits Of Lypo Spheric Vitamin C?
Lypo Spheric vitamin C is no ordinary supplement. It delivers more vitamin C to where it’s needed most because of its unique structure. Lypo-spheric technology is arguably superior for the delivery of nutrients. Why is liposomal vitamin C better? Check out the reasons below.
Regular vitamin C does have a disadvantage making vitamin C supplementation different from other nutrients.
Much of the vitamin C you take orally, either from food or supplements, isn’t absorbed by the gut. Smaller amounts are absorbed better, e.g. if you took 100 mg, you’d absorb about 98 mg. There’s a larger “fractional absorption” amount with smaller doses.
The fractional absorption amount decreases though with larger doses. Only about 1000-1250 mg of vitamin C would be absorbed with a single 2000 mg dose. True, more total vitamin C is absorbed but it’s less efficient. To put this in perspective, a single 12,000 mg dose would only result in about 16%, or 1920 mg, of it being absorbed.
Vitamin C must be transported through the gut wall using transporters. There are only so many transporters available and this action requires energy. Also, there only so much time before vitamin C moves along on its merry way down your digestive tract. Once vitamin C has moved on, it’s lost its chance to be absorbed. As you can see, there are limitations to the absorption of traditional vitamin C.
Also, regular vitamin C is quickly absorbed, distributed throughout the circulation and then eventually filtered, and excreted by the kidneys.
Once taken, blood levels peak about 2 to 4 hours afterward and then drift back down to pre-supplementation (baseline) levels about 6-8 hours after that. If you want more from your regular vitamin C, several doses need to be taken throughout the day.
Needless to say, this can make oral dosing of vitamin C somewhat burdensome.
Once in your bloodstream, a portion of the vitamin C will diffuse or be actively transported from the blood into the various cells of your body such as your muscles, heart, kidneys, liver, digestive tract, your brain, eyes, etc.
It does offer antioxidant protection but the amount of vitamin C that gets into your cells is much less than the amount that’s in the bloodstream (outside your cells). Much of the vitamin C that doesn’t get absorbed by your cells will be excreted in your urine. This is why liposomes are better and lypospheric vitamin C offers greater benefits.
Being wrapped in essential phospholipids, vitamin C is absorbed like dietary fats. It is taken up by the lymphatic system with an estimated 98% efficiency. Once there, it moves from the lymphatic system into your bloodstream. Liposomes deliver more vitamin C into the circulation compared to traditional vitamin C supplements.
The circulating vitamin C-rich liposomes deliver more vitamin C to your tissues and organs. The liposomes bind to the cell membranes where they release vitamin C into your cells, effectively raising INTRA-cellular levels.
A recent clinical trial by world-renowned vitamin C expert and pharmacologist, Steve Hickey, Ph.D., showed that liposomal vitamin C was able to produce serum levels of vitamin C nearly double those thought theoretically possible with any oral form of the vitamin.
This astounding level of bioavailability not only dramatically increases the amount of vitamin C in the blood, but recent thermographic microscopy provides visible evidence that it also aids its entry into individual cells.
Even IV vitamin C has its limits in terms of raising intracellular levels of vitamin C because most of the vitamin C is still in the blood. Some of it will find its way into the cells, but not much. Studies estimate that only about 20% of the vitamin C from IV delivery gets in despite very high concentrations in the serum. Liposomal C is different.
Anecdotally, vitamin C researcher Thomas Levy has found through years of clinical experience that a much smaller oral dose of lypo spheric vitamin C (5 to 10 grams) often results in a similar clinical response as a much larger dose of vitamin C given intravenously (25 to 100 grams).
Source of essential phospholipids
It’s not just about the vitamin C. When you take liposomal products, you’re getting all the nutritional benefits of the material that the liposomes are made from. Liposomes are made of phospholipids with a high concentration of phosphatidyl-choline, which is a building block of all of your cellular structures including cell membranes.
It’s the unique phospholipid-based structure of liposomes that allows them to ‘slip’ through the cell membrane (without needing energy to do so), into your cells, where vitamin C is needed most.
Phosphatidyl-choline is a specific type of essential fats (phospholipids) that your body can’t produce on its own so you need to get it from food. As a structural feature of your cell membrane, phospholipids are needed for ongoing repair and maintenance.
Liposomes are a supplemental source of phosphatidyl-choline which, in turn, provides your body with much-needed choline. Most people don’t get enough choline and its importance in human health has been largely forgotten. To learn more, read my post Choline. Always A Bridesmaid, Never A Bride.
Each sachet of a LivOn Lab lypo spheric product has 75 mg of choline.
What is liposomal vitamin C used for?
Liposome encapsulation overcomes all the bioavailability and cellular uptake restrictions. Liposomes do not rely on a specialized carrier transport system. Instead, due to their size and composition, they are able to be passively absorbed through the intestinal wall and through cellular membranes.
As a result, liposome encapsulated nutrients (like lypo spheric vitamin C and liposomal glutathione, lypo spheric carnitine, and lypo spheric alpha lipoic acid) provide a greatly enhanced bioavailability (delivery into the bloodstream) and greatly improved delivery into individual cells.
This better absorption has the advantage of the vitamin C entering the lymphatic system first, giving up a lot of its vitamin C to your white blood cells of the immune system (such as the macrophages and phagocytes that love to concentrate vitamin C within their structures to fight infections and cancer).
The vitamin C filled liposomes then enter the bloodstream but unlike regular ascorbic acid that is filtered by the kidneys, when liposomal vitamin C is cleared from the blood it is taken up by various cells, tissues, and organs throughout the body. It makes its way into your cells and is not lost in your urine.
PRO TIP: One form of vitamin C doesn’t, nor shouldn’t, replace the other. Regular vitamin C increases blood levels nicely while lypospheric is better at increasing the vitamin C within your cells. It’s best to have both forms to ensure maximum benefits!
Reproduces our hypothesized lost ability to synthesize our own vitamin C
Now, here’s where it gets interesting. This concept will be new to most people.
Along with primates and guinea pigs, humans are the only other mammal on Earth incapable of making our own vitamin C. It’s true.
Goats, dogs, cats, elephants, pigs, horses, and other mammals make their own vitamin C [in their livers and/or kidneys] and they make it in HUGE amounts. Much more on a per kg of body weight basis than what’s recommended for human health. Much, much more than the 90 mg or so per day recommended for adult humans.
But researchers say it wasn’t always like that. Our earlier ancestors used to make their own vitamin C.
We’re missing the enzyme L-gulonolactone oxidase (GLO) needed to do this for ourselves.
You and I have the gene in our DNA that’s responsible to make the GLO enzyme [and by extension vitamin C], but it’s mutated. Because of this, our liver cells can’t ‘read’ the gene and are unable to finish the final step of making vitamin C from glucose. Not only do we have all the other genes to make vitamin C, all of those genes are active in us except for the last one.
Note. In the diagram above, you and I (mammals) can do everything needed, up to the last step: L-GulL to L-ascorbate a.k.a. “vitamin C”
It’s for this reason that some researchers think vitamin C [and the inability to make it] should be reclassified. That vitamin C production defects should be seen as an “inborn error of carbohydrate metabolism”.
Researchers theorize that once, long ago, we produced large amounts of vitamin C just like those animals that can make it themselves do. For example, a 150 or 72 kg goat can produce up to 13,000 mg of vitamin C per day. More when it’s under stress.
Animals that produce their own vitamin C do so all day long, 24/7. As a result, they have both higher levels of vitamin C in their blood and within their cells. A liposomal vitamin C benefit is one where it raises your INTRA-cellular (within the cell) levels of vitamin C like it would if you made your own vitamin C all day long. Like a goat.
Liposomal vitamin C benefits you by mimicking the hypothesized, long lost ability to maintain higher levels of vitamin C in both your bloodstream and within your cells like they would have been when our long ago ancestors made their own.
Better delivery of vitamin C to maturing white blood cells
As mentioned, your immune system LOVES vitamin C.
Your adrenal glands do too. Like white blood cells, your adrenals selectively take up vitamin C from your bloodstream and concentrate in their respective cells but I digress [hint, vitamin C helps with stress tolerance].
Vitamin C bolsters your immune response. It is the premier antioxidant circulating throughout your body but vitamin C does more. Studies have clearly established vitamin C’s ability to directly promote and stimulate a number of very important functions of your immune system.
These functions include the following:
- Enhanced antibody production (B-lymphocytes, humoral immunity)
- Increased interferon production
- Enhanced phagocytic (scavenger cell) function
- Improved T-lymphocyte function (cell-mediated immunity)
- Enhanced B-lymphocyte and T-lymphocyte proliferation. Enhanced natural killer cell activity (very important anti-cancer function)
- Improved prostaglandin formation
- Increased nitric oxide production by phagocytes
Phagocytic white blood cells (granulocytes) have 25X more vitamin C than what’s in the blood. Vitamin C is ‘used up’ when these cells digest pathogens and cellular “debris”. Phagocytic cells are like PACMANs, moving about the body, gobbling up the bad guys.
The biggest consumer of vitamin C in the immune system though, are the monocytes. These are also known as macrophages; another cell with phagocytic functions. They are vitamin C hogs. Monocytes have more than an 80X increased concentration of vitamin C inside it relative to the blood.
Lypo spheric vitamin C benefits the immune system because of the structure of the liposome. Because it’s absorbed as fat, liposomal vitamin C enters the lymphatic system where it is transported to the lymph nodes throughout the body.
Once there, the liposomes release the vitamin C into the maturing blood cells so that when released into the bloodstream, they are ‘supercharged’, ready to fight the good fight and keeping your healthy.
Study: Liposomal vitamin C improves skin quality
Sun damage is considered one of the main causes of skin aging mostly because UV radiation breaks down the skin’s supportive and structural proteins, collagen and elastin. Because vitamin C is needed for optimal collagen production, researchers wanted to know if liposome encapsulated vitamins might play a role in antiaging nutrition.
In a December 2014 study by Princeton Consumer Research Ltd., researchers conducted a double-blind placebo-controlled study to assess the impact of liposomal vitamin C on skin firmness and wrinkling.
Compared to placebo, those who took 1000 mg of lypospheric vitamin C per day saw a 35% increase in skin firmness and an 8% reduction in fine lines and wrinkles whereas those who took 3000 mg per day saw a 61% increase in skin firmness and a 14% reduction in fine lines and wrinkles.
The results are believed to be due to the fact that vitamin C is needed for the production of collagen and elastin, the skin’s supportive structural proteins, and because phospholipids are fats that make up all cell membranes.
Liposomes are the best way to deliver these nutrients into the skin cells. Liposomal vitamin C is the way to go.
Liposomal vitamin C side effects
Lypo spheric vitamin C is very well tolerated. There are no known meaningful liposomal side effects when reasonable doses are taken.
Safety studies have shown that 1 to 5 g per day are well tolerated. In studies where very large doses are taken, 20 – 30 g, some subjects experience some gastrointestinal upset.
This is thought to be due to the phospholipid content. Large intakes of fat can cause some gas, bloating and flatulence. Smaller doses spread out over the day is a good dosing pattern.
To learn more watch this video What is Lypospheric (Liposomal) Technology?
Vitamin C is one of the best-known vitamins around. This is largely due to the work done in the 1970s by Linus Pauling, an American biochemist and engineer.
His books How to Live Longer and Feel Better and Vitamin C and the Common Cold were two seminal works that lead the way to the two fantastic documents listed in this post Ridiculous Dietary Allowance – A Challenge to the RDA for Vitamin C and Ascorbate – The Science of Vitamin C
At the time, Pauling and others didn’t have the understanding that we do today regarding how vitamin C is absorbed, distributed and ultimately excreted by the body. We know better today and to cite limitations from the 70s and 80s is a common response to anti-supplement crowd.
Vitamin C serum levels are influence by both the amount of vitamin C taken and how often. Small amounts, taken frequently are better absorbed when it comes to regular vitamin C such as ascorbic acid or sodium ascorbate.
Fast forward to today, and liposome encapsulated vitamin C overcomes the historical limits of regular vitamin C supplementation.
Lypospheric vitamin C is a superior formulation that increases the amount of vitamin C that gets into cells and tissues.
Because it’s transported and metabolized differently (in phospholipid spheres), lypospheric vitamin C isn’t as effective at increasing serum, and interstitial concentrations like regular vitamin C does which is why it’s best to take both formulations if you decide to supplement with vitamin C.
One form of vitamin C doesn’t, nor shouldn’t, replace the other. It’s best to have both forms to ensure maximum benefit!
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