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Ascorbyl Palmitate: A Fat-Soluble Form of Vitamin C

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By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH

Ascorbyl palmitate sourcesThere are several different forms of vitamin C. Ascorbic acid, the most common form, is water soluble. It dissolves quickly in water and is therefore excreted out of the body through the body relatively quickly. Ascorbyl palmitate is a fat (oil) soluble form of vitamin C that is used as an antioxidant and preservative in foods, vitamins, drugs and cosmetics. Being fat soluble, it is absorbed into the cell membrane where ascorbic acid cannot reach. It is therefore retained in the body for a longer period of time.

Forms of Vitamin C - Ascorbyl Palmitate vs Ascorbic Acid

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is a water-soluble vitamin. Humans cannot produce this vitamin, and supplementation must be taken in from external sources in order to avoid vitamin C deficiency diseases. Studies now show that chronic vitamin C leads to atherosclerotic heart disease and plaque built up, as the vascular wall is weakened from the lack of collagen buildup. Severe vitamin C deficiency leads to scurvy and death. Citrus fruits are good sources of vitamin C. One orange contains about 65mg of vitamin C. Once inside the body, this vitamin quickly dissolves in water and is excreted within a short period of time.

Ascorbyl Palmitate is a fat (oil) soluble form of vitamin C. It is used as an antioxidant and preservative in foods, vitamins, drugs and cosmetics. Because of its lipophilic nature, ascorbyl palmitate can enter the cell membrane (made from lipid) and access the lipoproteins. This special quality makes ascorbyl palmitate a very important nutrient in our body.

Ascorbyl palmitate works to protect fats from peroxidation, and it can be stored in the body in small amounts. It works best when taken in combination of ascorbic acid. Ascorbyl palmitate also acts synergistically with other antioxidants such as vitamin E.

Health and ascorbyl palmitateThe use of ascorbyl palmitate in anti-aging was pioneered by the two times Nobel Laureate Dr. Linus Pauling, whose research and subsequent clinical studies showed that ascorbyl palmitate, when used in combination with vitamin C and amino acids lysine and proline, is able to strengthen the vascular wall and reverse atherosclerotic heart disease.

The use of vitamin C as part of an anti-aging protocol is widespread. At least 300 mg to 2000 mg of vitamin C is widely accepted as the optimum anti-aging dose. However, vitamin C alone is insufficient for optimum health. Its half-life is short and retention time in the body is therefore low. Ascorbyl palmitate is a good balancing and complementary nutrient. Together, the antioxidant properties are extended. Furthermore, the addition of lysine and proline helps to enhance the cardiovascular system. Those serious in anti-aging and optimum cardiovascular health should consider the intake of these four important nutrients a part of their daily routine.

Ascorbyl palmitate is a free radical scavenger. Free radicals include active oxygen species, such as superoxide, *OH, *OOH, etc., and the free radicals derived from the biochemical utilization of oxygen or the prooxidant stimulation of oxygen metabolism, initiate the peroxidation of unsaturated lipids - especially those that constitute bio-membranes. Free radicals are responsible for a host of health problems in humans such as:

  • Aging
  • Cancer
  • Athrosclerosis
  • Cataracts
  • Inflammatory disorders

Free radicals can also lead to destruction of proteins and nucleic acids, resulting in low cellular activity and deterioration of living functions in our bodies. It is not yet clear whether lipid peroxidation is the main cause of the above mentioned diseases. However, we do know that having a large number of lipid peroxides in our bodies is destructive.

Ascorbyl palmitate protects fats from peroxidation, and can be stored in the body in small amounts. Taking Ascorbyl palmitate together with ascorbic acid seems to be the most ideal combination. This combination allows the body to be flushed with vitamin C at all times.

Ascorbyl palmitate acts synergistically with other antioxidants such as vitamin to boost immunity in our bodies.

To further investigate the bioavailability of ascorbyl palmitate, studies have been conducted. Two separate studies were carried out. One was on guinea pigs to reverse scurvy and another on humans. In both cases, ascorbyl palmitate was compared with water-soluble ascorbic acid.

In the case of reversing scurvy in guinea pigs, ascorbyl palmitate was found to be effective. It was approximately 50 percent as potent as ascorbic acid in preventing weight-loss associated with scurvy. However, the tissue levels of vitamin C did not differ much between the ascorbic acid and ascorbyl palmitate group.

Ascorbyl palmitate in guinea pigsWhy is this so? The reason may be related to the time constraint and design of the study. There was probably not enough time to determine fully the long-term effects of the different supplemental forms of vitamin C. The time period studied was only ten days. Nevertheless, it was clearly shown that changes in bone structure in the guinea pigs, a common pathology of scurvy, was equally reversed by both forms of vitamin C.

With regards to the study on humans, the effects of both a single dose and two weeks supplementation of both forms of vitamin C on plasma and urine levels were examined. The results revealed that after the single dose, ascorbyl palmitate did not appear in the plasma vitamin pool as quickly as ascorbic acid. There was a 20% difference when the results were checked 8 hours later. However, after 24 hours, the plasma values were the same for both forms of vitamin C.

Subsequently, the patients followed 2 weeks of supplementation at 2 grams a day.

The plasma vitamin C levels reflected higher for ascorbyl palmitate. The average urinary excretion was 33% lower, showing better utilization of ascorbyl palmitate. As such, it is apparent that ascorbyl palmitate is a more effective source of vitamin C when compared to water-soluble ascorbic acid, which may be easily lost in urine.

In animals, the scientist mentioned that these two types of vitamin C might act as anti-tumor agents. Ascorbyl palmitate is 30 times more potent than ascorbic acid as an anti-tumor promoter. By enhancing the production of collagen in the inter-celluar tissue, cancer cells are "walled off" The effect of vitamin C in this respect is further enhanced by the presence of L-lysine and L-proline. In addition, it is also very effective when added to the animal's diet whereas ascorbic acid was proven to be not effective.

It therefore appears that ascorbyl palmitate supplementation is complimentary to traditional ascorbic acid supplementation, both as a source of vitamin C and for its potentially unique properties.

Ascorbyl palmitate

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