Buffered vitamin C has minerals to boost digestive comfort

Buffered Vitamin C: What's the Difference?

Vitamin C is renowned for the many critical roles it plays in the human body, from acting as a powerful antioxidant to supporting immune system function and collagen synthesis. But because of their acidic nature, traditional vitamin C supplements may be difficult to tolerate, especially for those with sensitive stomachs.

Luckily, there's a better approach: Buffered vitamin C supplements are specially formulated so that you can reap the benefits of this vitamin without the discomfort. Let's dive into the differences between buffered and unbuffered vitamin C to help you choose the best option for your health needs.

What is vitamin C?

Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin that plays many critical roles in the body. A powerful antioxidant that provides cellular protection throughout the body, vitamin C is also involved in collagen synthesis, immune support, iron absorption, and the maintenance of healthy skin, blood vessels, bones and cartilage.

Our bodies don't produce or store vitamin C, so we must obtain this essential nutrient from supplements or from dietary sources like citrus fruit, broccoli, brussels sprouts and bell peppers.

Because of its role in cellular health and its skin, heart and immune support, vitamin C—either buffered or regular—is a highly recommended supplement.

Buffered vitamin C vs. regular vitamin C: What's the difference?

Buffered and regular vitamin C are two different forms of the same essential vitamin. Most vitamin C supplements typically contain vitamin C in the form of ascorbic acid. Ascorbic acid is a weak acid that can cause stomach discomfort in some people, especially when taken in a high dose or on an empty stomach.

Buffered vitamin C is a specialized form of the vitamin that has been formulated to be gentler on the digestive system while still retaining its health benefits. It is created by combining ascorbic acid with minerals like calcium, magnesium, zinc or potassium. These minerals act as a buffer to neutralize the acidity of ascorbic acid. This makes buffered vitamin C gentler on the stomach and more tolerable for individuals with sensitive digestive systems and those who experience discomfort with regular vitamin C. It is also good for those who want to take it without food on an empty stomach.

Is buffered vitamin C good for you?

Yes! Despite its reduced acidity, buffered vitamin C provides the same health benefits as standard ascorbic acid, such as supporting immune health, promoting collagen synthesis and acting as a powerful antioxidant to scavenge free radicals. It also provides an extra boost of health-promoting minerals like magnesium, calcium, zinc and potassium.

Among other benefits, vitamin C:

  • Encourages healthy cartilage, teeth, bone and blood vessels.
  • Supports a healthy immune system, promoting the function of immune cells and a healthy immune response.
  • Encourages healthy skin by various mechanisms. It supports the synthesis of collagen, skin elasticity and hydration.
  • Promotes the absorption of iron from plant-based sources, supporting healthy iron levels in the body.
  • Supports cardiovascular health by encouraging blood vessel health and helping maintain already-healthy blood pressure.
  • Is an essential cofactor in numerous enzymatic reactions in the body and in the regulation of gene expression.

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Who should take buffered vitamin C?

The National Institutes of Health recommend a daily intake of 90 mg of vitamin C for males and 75 mg for females. The recommendations are slightly higher for pregnant and breastfeeding women. However, many experts recommend much higher doses for optimal health. For example, the Linus Pauling Institute recommends a daily intake of 400 mg for healthy adults. 

Vitamin C supplements are generally safe to take even at high doses (the upper limit of daily intake is 2000 mg/day). However, some people may experience digestive discomfort when taking them. For those with a sensitive stomach or sensitivity to vitamin C supplements, the buffered form of this vitamin can be particularly beneficial. A buffered vitamin is also a good option for anyone wanting the additional nutritional boost from the minerals.

The buffered form of this vitamin is often sold as a powder that has to be mixed with water. So, if you have a hard time swallowing capsules or tablets, buffered vitamin C powder may be a better choice.

Whether buffered or unbuffered, vitamin C supplements like capsules, chewable tablets or powders are a good option if you're looking to support your immune system or if you are seeking antioxidant support. If immune health is a concern, a liposomal vitamin C supplement might help you optimize your dose.

How to take buffered vitamin C

A gluten-free buffered vitamin C powder is a convenient and effective way to get the benefits of vitamin C. No matter what buffered form you choose, be sure to choose a high-quality supplement from a reputable brand. Follow the recommended dosage and directions on the product packaging.

If you are taking Life Extension's Buffered Vitamin C Powder, mix it with a glass of water and stir it thoroughly before drinking it. Drink all the liquid right away; do not save it to drink later. Vitamin C powder has compounds that make it effervesce when mixed with water, but only for a short while.

Wondering how to best support your immune system health? Our health needs quiz can give you a personal recommendation on the nutrients that may fit you best!

About the Author: Sonali Ruder, DO, is a board-certified emergency medicine doctor, classically trained chef, cookbook author and founder of the popular website, TheFoodiePhysician.com. Dr. Ruder is a contributing writer, recipe developer, spokesperson, and health and wellness expert for several national magazines, websites, and organizations. Her passion is giving people the tools to take control of their health, starting in the kitchen!

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