Vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid, is a naturally occurring vitamin that you need for a number of bodily functions. Vitamin C is important for bone, muscle, cartilage and vascular health. It is also an important component of regulating iron metabolism, which is necessary for red blood cells to carry oxygen to all of the cells and tissues of your body. Your body is not capable of producing vitamin C on its own, so you must make sure that you are getting enough of it from your nutrition in the form of fruits and vegetables that are naturally rich in this vitamin, like oranges, pineapples and broccoli. Alternatively, you may supplement your diet with vitamin C pills or tablets. When considering the use of vitamin supplements, you should be aware of all ingredients to ensure that you are not taking something that you may be allergic to or that will negatively interact with other medications you might be taking.
While particular formulations of vitamin C tablets may differ slightly among competing manufacturers’, the primary ingredient should be raw ascorbic acid. Vitamin C tablet makers utilize raw ascorbic acid that is either extracted from plants like corn, or chemically synthesized. The ascorbic acid derived from these sources is exactly the same chemically, although people with allergies may need to be aware of the plant sources used in food-derived ascorbic acid products as these tablets may contain small amounts of foods to which they are allergic. Some vitamin C supplements do not have ascorbic acid as the primary ingredient. These are marketed as special vitamins, which may tout extra benefits over a normal vitamin C supplement, or the product may be a multivitamin tablet that includes vitamin C among other nutrients.
In addition to the primary ingredient, benign filler chemicals are added to the mixture to serve as binding, coating and lubricating agents. Depending upon the manufacturer, the exact proportions and types of fillers that are used may vary slightly; however, most of these ingredients are identical or similarly classified. These may include vegetable or magnesium stearate, methylcellulose, glycerol and silica. These agents are considered non-active ingredients and are not expected to have any negative or positive impact on your health.
Besides the active and inactive filler ingredients, a cellulose coating is often applied to the exterior of your vitamin C tablet. This coating may either delay the release of active ingredients or reduce undesirable flavors. Alternatively, you could purchase vitamin C supplements that do not have an exterior coating -- these are often formulated to be chewable.