I have read a lot of bad science and speculation being posted on the different forums lately about synthetic L-ascorbic acid eliminating probiotic bacteria.
Where did all this speculation come from?
My research has concluded that it originated from this article on Natural News.
The article is filled with anecdotal evidence, opinion, and no scientific studies or information to back up anything.
The author of the article brings up that ascorbic acid is used as a preservative to keep bacteria in apple juice from over-multiplying and spoiling the product. 1 Yes, this is one of the only statements in the article based on fact. Acids can be used to lower the pH of food products to keep bacteria growth to a minimum. Lowering pH is done in canning to prevent botulism from occurring, the same could be said for its use in apple juice. 2 Does this mean that L-ascorbic acid ingested would eliminate the probiotic bacteria in the intestines?
The correct answer is that this is impossible. Ingestion of L-ascorbic acid (pH of 2.4 unless it is buffered) may slightly raise or lower pH levels in the stomach briefly (depending on the pH of your stomach acid) which if it lowers pH it can be helpful in keeping opportunistic bacteria like H. pylori at bay. 3 All acid is neutralized by sodium bicarbonate and bile in the small intestine. 4 In addition, the acid in your stomach (hydrochloric acid) has a lot lower pH than most ingested acids. So, if the proposed L-ascorbic acid eliminates intestinal flora theory is true, anytime you eat and stomach acid is produced all the bacteria in your stomach, small intestine, or colon would be eliminated.
Now I do recommend that if you are taking a probiotic supplement that it would be best that you take it away from any synthetic L-ascorbic acid supplement because of the possible slight decrease of pH in the stomach. I also recommend that you do not take a probiotic supplement at the same time as ingesting any acidic food, or during / after a meal. The best time to take a probiotic is three to four hours after eating, when stomach acid is at its lowest point, with a glass of nonchlorinated water. Bedtime is a good example of an optimal intake time for most people.
Synthetic L-ascorbic acid is not sourced from corn syrup. It is sourced from corn dextrose fermentation that is very different. 5 Now one thing the author of the article got correct is that most synthetic L-ascorbic acid is sourced from GMO corn. More than likely there is no GMO protein in the final L-ascorbic acid product, therefore very few probiotic bacteria, if any, would be eliminated from the GMO produced L-ascorbic acid.
Finally, Dr. Linus Pauling and a multitude of scientific studies have proved that synthetic L-ascorbic acid is safe. 6 If you want to take “natural” vitamin C, I have no issue with that as well, but I wish people would stop slandering synthetic L-ascorbic acid.
- http://pubs.acs.org/cen/science/8045/8045sci2.html ↩
- http://pods.dasnr.okstate.edu/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-962/FAPC-118web.pdf ↩
- http://bmb.oxfordjournals.org/content/54/1/121.full.pdf ↩
- Patton, Kevin, Thibodeau, Gary, Douglas, Matthew. Essentials of Anatomy and Physiology, Mosby, March 16, 2011. ↩
- https://www.pureencapsulations.com/media/Ascorbic%20Acid.pdf ↩
- http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/vitamins/vitaminC/ ↩