To understand what a “buffered” form of vitamin C is, we must first understand what a non-buffered, or “normal” form of vitamin C is.
What is vitamin C in general?
Vitamin C is a type of acid, called ascorbic acid. It has many functions in the body, from tissue repair, to enzyme function and acting as a powerful antioxidant, just to name a few. With that in mind, it is no wonder that vitamin C is considered an essential vitamin, and one of the most popular health supplements to take.
There is, however, one small drawback that some people might experience from taking this supplement: if you’ve got a sensitive stomach, the slight acidity of this vitamin can cause some pretty unpleasant side effects for you. Experiences of nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain and heartburn are some of the symptoms, and there have even been cases where people have reported getting bloody urine.* Some try to relieve some of the discomforts by taking the supplement together with meal, as the food can sometimes work as a buffer to the acid, but there is another solution: the buffered vitamin C.
What is a “buffered” vitamin C?
The buffered form of vitamin C is created when you have the ascorbic acid reacting with mineral carbonates (a salt of carbonic acid). As ascorbic acid prefers to bind with metals, this isn’t a very complicated process, and the end product is a white powder with a salty taste. The minerals combined with the ascorbic acid are usually sodium, calcium, potassium, and magnesium, leading to sodium ascorbate (E301), calcium ascorbate (E302), potassium ascorbate (E303), and magnesium ascorbate. Out of these four, the most common ones to ingest as a vitamin C supplement are calcium ascorbate and magnesium ascorbate, while the other two are more often found as food additives.
What are the benefits of taking “buffered” vitamin C?
What is the benefit then, of choosing a buffered vitamin C supplement? After the mineral salts have been combined with the acid, it makes for a much less acidic version of vitamin C, meaning that even people who have a sensitive stomach can use this supplement without any discomfort. The buffered versions also contains minerals, which will give you not only the benefits of the vitamin C, but also to a certain degree that of the mineral. This is especially true when it comes to the combination of vitamin C and calcium, as the vitamin increases the body’s ability to absorb this bone strengthening mineral.
All in all, there is no downside to go for the buffered vitamin C supplement, only upsides. If you’re concerned that the vitamin C dose of the supplement will be too low, then you can put that worry to rest. All serious supplement companies will have listed declarations of the dosage per tablet on their products, and carefully thought through recommendations of daily intake. Just follow these, and you should be fine.
*in cases of painful urination or blood in the urine, please seek out medical help immediately, as this can be symptoms of more serious ailments, such as kidney stone.