What Is the Common Name for Ascorbic Acid?

white pills on table near bottle

Those asking what is the common name for ascorbic acid may be surprised to learn that it's vitamin C. Yet ascorbic acid is much more than vitamin C.

What is the Common Name for Ascorbic Acid

The common name for ascorbic acid is vitamin C, yet ascorbic acid refers to a specific chemical structure. Ascorbic acid is actually a type of sugar, and when looked at on its own it has a white or light yellow appearance. Ascorbic acid crystals dissolve easily in water.

Ascorbic Acid Facts

  • Walter Haworth and Paul Karrer shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1937 for their work in discovering and identifying ascorbic acid. Since then, science has discovered some remarkable facts about ascorbic acid.
  • A lack of ascorbic acid causes scurvy. Both people and animals can get scurvy.
  • Primates such as monkeys and humans as well as guinea pigs are just some of the mammals who cannot create ascorbic acid in their bodies. They must obtain it from food sources.
  • Sunlight and heat destroy ascorbic acid.
  • Many animals actually manufacture ascorbic acid in their bodies.
  • Every single animal and plant studied to date needs ascorbic acid in some amount. The only exception known is yeast, which needs a slightly different form of ascorbic acid.
  • Reptiles and older birds (those animals closer to the earliest dinosaur ancestors) make ascorbic acid in their kidneys or the liver.
  • It can be used as a chemical to develop photographs.
  • Because ascorbic acid is such a powerful antioxidant, it is often added to foods today to preserve and protect them for longer shelf life.

Ascorbic Acid as Medicine

The University of Maryland Medical Center the Library of the U.S. National Library of Medicine, states that ascorbic acid is the name given to the medicinal form of vitamin C. Such preparations are given to people suffering from scurvy or severe vitamin C deficiency. It may be taken as a tablet, pill or liquid.

Vitamin C or ascorbic acid is water soluble, meaning that if you take more than you need, the body flushes out the excess. It can, however cause stomach upset, stomach pain, diarrhea or cramps if you take too much. If you're considering taking extra vitamin C, increase the dose slowly over time to assess any potential side effects.

Uses of Vitamin C

Vitamin C or ascorbic acid acts as a powerful antioxidant in the body. Its chemical structure helps it neutralize free radicals, thus preventing cellular damage. The body uses vitamin C for many functions, including repair and maintenance of nearly all bodily tissues. Studies have been conducted on the use of vitamin C for heart disease, high blood pressure and prevention of the common cold. The use of vitamin C to prevent or treat many other diseases continues to be under scrutiny today. While many natural health experts believe vitamin C can prevent disease, supplements studied in clinical settings show only mild results. Eating a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, nature's sources of vitamin C and ascorbic acid, may confer additional health benefits from a combination of vitamin C and other substances found in foods.

The simple answer to the question, "What is the common name for ascorbic acid?" is "Vitamin C." Yet vitamin C is anything but a simple vitamin. Found in abundance in nature, needed by every living creature under the sun from single celled organisms to people, it's a miraculous substance that may be one of the most important vitamins known.

Was this page useful?
What Is the Common Name for Ascorbic Acid?