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What is Vitamin C?

Vitamin C (a.k.a. ascorbic acid) is a water-soluble vitamin found naturally in fruits and vegetables, but is primarily synthesized in laboratories for manufacturing supplements. Whether naturally occurring or synthesized, heat destroys vitamin C. It’s an essential nutrient because our body can’t make it or store it, so we need to consume vitamin C regularly to avoid illness, such as scurvy, and to support immune health, iron absorption, energy metabolism, joint, collagen and skin formation, and as an antioxidant to help cells fight free-radical damage.

How We Choose Our Top 5 Supplements (View our Site Disclaimer)

We recommend any of the five products listed below equally and so present our choices in alphabetical order by brand. We do not receive any compensation in exchange for our recommendations. Read more about how we make our selections.

Ester-C Group

American Health® Ester-C®

The Ester-C® family of products comes in many forms to choose from. All contain a better form of vitamin C: less stomach irritation, less oxalate in the urine and longer retention in immune cells.


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Ester-C® is a special form of vitamin C. It’s made by a patented process that creates a unique form of calcium ascorbate (non-acidic and better tolerated calcium-buffered ascorbic acid.) It’s the only form of vitamin C known to contain the active vitamin C metabolites threonate and furanone and to stay in white blood cells—an important part of the immune system—longer than regular vitamin C, for up to 24 hours! See details in the Learn More tab.

Clinical trials have shown Ester-C® to:

  • • Produce 66% less stomach irritation than consuming regular ascorbic acid: many people find ordinary vitamin C causes stomach irritation
  • • Increase vitamin C retention in immune functioning white blood cells significantly longer than regular vitamin C—up to 24 hours—by consuming 1000mg daily: good indications of supporting white blood cell immune functions
  • • Significantly reduced urinary oxalate output vs. regular vitamin C, when taking 1,000 mg – 2,000 mg per day of each: good for people concerned with formation of oxalate kidney stones

Clinical trials comparing Ester-C® vs. common ascorbic acid:

  • • Less stomach discomfort: Gruenwald J et al. Adv Ther. 2006;23(1):171-8
  • • Lower urinary oxalate: Moyad MA et al. Adv Ther. 2008;25(10):995 - 1009
  • • Higher Retention in white blood cells: Moyad MA et al. Urol Nurs. 2009;29(2):95-102

Doctor's Best Vitamin C With Quali-C

Doctor's Best® Vitamin C With Q®-C

Doctor's Best® Vitamin C with Q®-C is basic ascorbic acid vitamin C with a twist: it is made from pure, branded Quali®-C, the only lab-produced ascorbic acid not sourced from any Chinese manufacturer, which is important to some shoppers.


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Quali®-C—the world's first branded vitamin C ingredient—is manufactured by DSM, the world's leading supplier of nutritional ingredients. DSM’s Dalry plant in rural Scotland is the only site in the Western world to produce ascorbic acid, better known as vitamin C. There is no other source of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) outside of Asia. Doctor's Best® Vitamin C with Q®-C is available in 500mg and 1000mg Veggie Caps and 250 Gram Pure Vitamin C Powder.

Other Ingredients: Modified cellulose vegetarian capsule. Does Not Contain milk, egg, wheat, gluten, corn, soy, sugar, sweeteners, starch, salt, or preservatives.

Dr. Mercola Liposomal Vitamin C

Dr. Mercola® Liposomal Vitamin C

If you’re looking for a “better mouse-trap” in vitamin C technology, then Dr. Mercola® Liposomal Vitamin C 1,000 mg liquid caps is a great choice: it’s non-acid and uses liposomes fat to increase the bioavailability of vitamin C, since water-soluble vitamin C is not absorbed well.


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The latest in vitamin C technology is Liposomal Vitamin C. Simply put, this technology wraps ascorbic acid in phospholipids creating a liposome. This technique has been used on many hard-to-absorb nutrients and herbs in the past but is relatively new for vitamin C supplements. The end point is that this expensive technology increases the uptake and bioavailability of vitamin C, since water-soluble vitamin C is not absorbed well. Liposomal Vitamin C can also potentially ease intestinal discomfort associated with taking high amounts of vitamin C.

Human clinical trial using in-house made liposome technology showing higher absorption/retention effects as a proof of concept: J Clin Med. 2020 Jun; 9(6): 1616 —

From the Mercola website:

“Our Liposomal Vitamin C provides a more practical and effective way to complement your diet with vitamin C than traditional oral C by how it:

  • •Utilizes liposomal technology for bioavailability and gastrointestinal protection advantages.*
  • •Incorporates phospholipids to help protect the vitamin C and aid in the formation of liposomes in the stomach.*
  • •Includes a sunflower lecithin emulsifier, thereby totally avoiding a soy-based one.
  • •Delivers vitamin C in a high-quality, tightly-sealed Licaps® capsule that may be superior to other oral delivery systems in terms of leakage protection.*
  • •Comes from a world-leading quality manufacturer with more than a century of experience and innovative delivery technologies.”

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Flora Acerola Powder

Flora Acerola Powder

Looking to go “au naturel” for your vitamin C? A 3-gram serving (1 scoop) of Flora’s Acerola Powder from acerola cherries provides 850 mg of naturally occurring vitamin C. But don’t expect some ‘maraschino cherry buzz’ from this powder, as Flora describes their product as having a delightful, tart taste that blends well into smoothies, juice, and yogurt.


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Flora Acerola Powder from acerola cherries is a product of the “fruit laboratory”—not the result of a chemistry lab. If you understand the principle of synergistic cofactors in vitamin C products (like citrus bioflavonoids in other vitamin C products) you can see the benefit of this “less is more” natural approach. The equation is this: although there are only 850 mg of vitamin c per serving of Flora's acerola cherry powder, the remainder of that 3,000 mg scoop has known and unknown nutrients that may enhance your health too. You get all this natural goodness in a convenient ready-to-use product.

850 mg of naturally occurring ascorbic acid in 3,000 mg of Flora’s acerola powder is a reasonable claim, as scientific reviews of the acerola fruit’s properties show that 10 grams of whole fruit contain 1,677 mg of ascorbic acid. Plus, the USDA ranks acerola raw juice as the number one food source for vitamin C, with 3,872 mg of ascorbic acid per cup! The trick for producing a supplemental form of acerola is that high temperatures destroy this vitamin C content. Flora is a reliable company that has a history of bringing to market minimally processed botanical supplements. Since 1965, products from Flora Manufacturing & Distributing Ltd have been offering exotic and yet verifiable ingredients, which inspires confidence in this product. Flora advises to: keep the product in dark places without direct sunlight. Store at room temperature (do not exceed 77°F) and protect from moisture.

All About Acerola fruit: J Food Sci Technol. 2018 Sep; 55(9): 3373 – 3384.

Acerola tops the USDA list of foods for vitamin C content:

MegaFood C Defense Gummies

MegaFood® C Defense Gummies

MegaFood® C Defense gummies are great for purests who want their gummy “cake and eat it too”. They’re loaded with organic fruits and made with pectin instead of gelatin, so they’re vegan and a very “clean” choice for this fun form. Formulated for adults at 180 mg of vitamin C per 2 gummies (but kids can take just one for a kid-sized 90 mg serving!)


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MegaFoods® delivers serious nutrition with this fun and delicious gummy! More than ascorbic acid, these innovative chews contain real organic food—whole foods sourced from farm fresh partners to deliver a range of nutrients:

  • • organic oranges, that impart a real citrus flavor and provide complementary cofactors
  • • organic berries and ginger—to provide additional antioxidant compounds
  • • only 2 grams of sugar per serving

It’s not surprising that consumers highly rate these for taste and purity. These gummies have no artificial flavors, are non-GMO Project Verified, certified vegan, gluten-free, soy-free and dairy-free.

Organic ingredients include: 120 mg per serving of Organic Whole Orange and Super Food Blend (Organic Orange, Organic Cranberry, Organic Blueberry, Organic Ginger Root)

Organic, non-gelatin gummy ingredients: Organic Tapioca Syrup, Organic Cane Sugar, Apple Pectin, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Organic Sunflower Oil, Carnauba Wax.

How We Choose Our Top 5 Supplements

Ingredients with measurable efficacy: Some supplement ingredients have had decades of scientific study and thousands of published studies describing their measurable efficacy and benefits to human nutrition. But some are only recently showing up on the market and have little science to explain their properties. Since you can't buy or try everything, we recommend products with studied ingredients.

Added value/complementary nutrients: Much of the cost of supplements is in their packaging, so if a product contains several complementary ingredients for its intended benefit, then we usually recommend that product over a single ingredient product. The exception is a single ingredient product that has special recognition as superior to similar but less effective products.

Different forms (tablets, powders, etc.): Some people just hate to take pills of any kind. So, when there’s a chewable, liquid, powder or gummy option that’s effective, we may also recommend those products.

Good manufacturing practices and reputation: There has been an explosion of supplement brands in the last 10 years. Many of these brands live only online and have ownership outside of USA regulations or ownership whose identity is sometimes hard to determine. We recommend companies that have made and marketed supplements for many decades in the USA and have earned good reputations for closely following FDA, GMP, and FTC guidelines, submitting to protocols that verify purity and potency and refraining from misleading product claims.

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