This comes up in a lot of questions from readers so I thought I’d address it here to the best of my ability. When the whole idea of microencapsulating something like ascorbic acid became feasible, experts all seemed to agree that straight ascorbic acid is too acidic to introduce straight into the bloodstream.
As a matter of fact, sodium ascorbate in aqueous solution is what doctors use for intravenous (IV) ascorbic acid therapy. Sodium ascorbate, a buffered form of ascorbic acid and sodium bicarbonate.
Early versions of homemade liposomal vitamin C use ascorbic acid and sodium bicarbonate. But you can buy it already buffered as sodium ascorbate so it saves the extra steps of buffering it yourself.
Yes, there is a difference! And yes, you’ll hear folks use the terms synonymously. I do but below I’ll share a bit of the thinking from both sides of the table.
There is a hot debate in health circles about the idea of calling ascorbic acid the same as vitamin C. Technically speaking, one is the molecule that is found in nature, so named Vitamin C, typically with bioflavonoids and other nutrients within the food.
And the other, ascorbic acid, is the isolated active ingredient found in vitamin C. This is then synthesized in a lab and sold in bulk. It is what is found in 99% of all supplements that contain “vitamin C”. Supplement labels will say “Vitamin C as ascorbic acid”.
Vitamin C Purists would say we should consume as much vitamin C as would be found in an orange or similar food. They would say that it is nonsense, even dangerous, to take mega doses of vitamins. They would argue that the one is no way like the other and responds differently in the body.
On the other side of the table, there are those who say ascorbic acid is essentially the same as vitamin C. They would say you’d need to drink lots of orange juice or rosehip tonic to get therapeutic levels of vitamin C. The most convenient way to get the active ingredient in Vitamin C and at therapeutic levels is to take it in the ascorbic acid form.
Therein is the difference: Therapeutic doses.
sigh… I am assuming you are not averse to taking large doses of, ahem, ascorbic acid. There is a massive amount of info out there in support of taking therapeutic megadoses and the man who discovered vitamin c and ascorbic acid, Linus Pauling, himself, took 30 to 100 grams (!) of ascorbates a day. He discovered that when he took large doses of ascorbic acid, he could alleviate if not stop symptoms of the common cold among other things. I’d say that if a man who was the recipient of not one but two Nobel Peace prizes could take such high doses, it’s safe to say we could, too.
So, let’s say you want to take massive doses of true vitamin C. That’s a lot of oranges, rose hips, and the like!
If you look at ascorbic acid on its own, not trying to compare it to Vitamin C, it still has certain properties when introduced to the bloodstream, cause amazing changes. And the fact is IV vitamin C therapy is practiced with great success the whole worldwide, using sodium ascorbate.
For the record, I call what I make in my homemade version, liposomal vitamin C, even though I use sodium ascorbate. I use the terms synonymously.
And hey, what’s the worse thing that happens if you take too much ascorbic acid?? Gas and diarrhea? Small price to pay to cut off the colds and cases of flu that are going around.