Is bubble wrapped vitamin C better for you than the ordinary pills? 

Vitamin C is the nation’s most popular dietary supplement — and with some justification, it seems.

While previous claims that it can prevent colds by boosting the immune system have been debunked (although it may shorten the duration of an illness by a day or two), new research has shown that its antioxidant effects have the potential to reduce the risk of stroke and to improve muscle mass in the elderly and even help fight skin cancer.

And some experts now believe that the UK recommended daily intake of 40mg should be at least doubled to provide the health benefits of the vitamin, which is naturally found in fruit and vegetables.

Vitamin C is the nation's most popular dietary supplement — and with some justification, it seems

Vitamin C is the nation’s most popular dietary supplement — and with some justification, it seems

While the consensus is that it’s best to get vitamin C through food, its use as a dietary supplement dates back to 1934, when it was the world’s first vitamin to be mass-produced in tablet form.

Vitamin C deficiency is rare, but research suggests that about 40 percent of people aren’t getting 80 to 90 mg a day — the amount shown to fight cell damage from free radicals and support the immune system as we age – says pharmacist Aidan Goggins, an independent consultant to the dietary supplement industry.

We asked experts to review some of the latest vitamin C supplements and products on the market. We then rated them…

patch

PatchMD Vitamin C Plus topical patch, £18.50 for 30, patchworksuk.com

Claim: “This slow-release topical vitamin C patch causes more vitamin C to enter the bloodstream,” says the manufacturer.

Each patch contains 90mg of vitamin C and 10mg of zinc, which “may shorten the duration of infections and help your body create collagen, which improves skin, nails and hair”. Use daily for eight hours.

Expert verdict: “We know that vitamin C and zinc are good for the immune system, but there is limited evidence that vitamins can be absorbed well beyond the epidermis – the top layer of skin – let alone directly into the bloodstream via a skin patch , in high enough concentrations to make a health difference,” says Dr. Lindsy Kass, Sports Scientist and Functional Nutrition Expert from Hertfordshire University.

“You’d better take a pill or liquid. At 61p a day, the patch is expensive.’

2/10

PatchMD Vitamin C Plus topical patch

PatchMD Vitamin C Plus topical patch

pills

Doctor’s Best PureWay-C 500mg, £10.22 for 60 tablets, iherb.com

Claim: This dietary supplement contains fatty acids and bioflavonoids for “superior absorption compared to other forms of vitamin C,” says the manufacturer. Take one tablet twice a day.

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Expert verdict: “This pill has been modified to improve absorption by the normal vitamin C transporters in the gut,” says Aidan Goggins.

“Fatty acids bind to vitamin C to improve absorption, and bioflavonoids — natural antioxidants — prevent damage to vitamin C molecules.

“This is useful because vitamin C is exposed in the small intestine to oxygen, acids and food, which can break it down. Bioflavonoids act like bodyguards, safely guiding vitamin C through the gastrointestinal tract for maximum absorption.

“I’m quite impressed with this new mechanism for delivering maximum vitamin C. It’s a reasonable dose and price.”

8/10

Carbonated drink

Get More Vits Vitamin C Sparkling Orange Drink, £1.40 for 500ml, sainsburys.co.uk

Claim: This drink is “sugar-free, low in calories, and fortified with 160 mg of vitamin C per bottle,” says the manufacturer.

Expert Verdict: “Although this drink is sugar-free, it’s loaded with sweeteners and preservatives, so it’s not the healthiest choice,” says Dr. cash.

“It also doesn’t appear to contain any real orange juice – just flavorings. You’re better off making your own drink that’s 50 percent fresh orange juice and 50 percent sparkling water – a 500ml glass would give you about 125mg of vitamin C, but with no sweeteners and 75 calories.

“Most people who eat fruits and vegetables don’t need a fortified drink. For those low on vitamin C, a medium-sized orange (70mg of vitamin C) or a kiwi (65mg) would be healthier choices.”

3/10

spray

BetterYou Vitamin C Oral Spray, £11.95 for 50ml, betteryou.com

Claim: This cherry and pomegranate flavored daily oral spray contains 120 mg of vitamin C per squirt. It delivers the nutrients “directly into the bloodstream via the buccal membrane of the inner cheek, bypassing the intestines,” says the manufacturer.

Expert verdict: “Some of the vitamin C is destroyed by the time it reaches the intestines, thanks to oxygen, food, and acids that break it down,” says Dr. cash.

“By taking it as a spray, where it’s absorbed through the tissue in the cheek and then going straight into the bloodstream, rather than swallowing it as a pill, this problem is avoided.

“This product could be particularly useful for people with malabsorption issues such as bowel disease and those who cannot swallow pills. However, it contains the sweetener xylitol which can cause stomach cramps, although ingestion on the cheek should avoid this.’

7/10

gummy bear

Boots Vitamin C Gummy Bears

Boots Vitamin C Gummy Bears

Boots Vitamin C Gummies, £2 for 30, boots.com

Claim: The redcurrant-flavored gummy contains 80 mg of vitamin C “to support a healthy immune system,” according to the manufacturer. For adults and children over 12 years old. Take one a day.

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Expert Verdict: “With glucose syrup as the key ingredient, you know this is going to be a high-sugar product that will only add unnecessary calories to your diet,” says Dr. cash.

“They taste pleasant enough and provide you with 80 mg of vitamin C (200 percent of your recommended daily allowance). But for the same benefit, it’s better to take a cheap pill or eat a handful of strawberries.”

4/10

powder

Nature’s Best Vitamin C soluble powder, £9 for 250g, naturesbest.co.uk

Claim: This is “the cheapest way to buy vitamin C,” says the manufacturer. It is recommended to add between ¼ tsp (1,000 mg) and ½ tsp (2,000 mg) to beverages daily.

Expert opinion: “While our need for vitamin C increases in the case of chronic stress on the body’s cells – for example reduced by around 50 percent due to smoking – the dose proposed here is too high,” says Aidan Goggins.

“The majority of people don’t need 1,000 mg or 2,000 mg of vitamin C a day and can’t get that amount.

“The only situation where these megadoses can be helpful is in people with chronic inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease. There is evidence that these conditions cause accelerated turnover of vitamin C in the body, which could lead to deficiency.”

5/10

Nature's Best Soluble Vitamin C Powder

Nature’s Best Soluble Vitamin C Powder

bubble wrap

Lipovitamin C, £29.99 for 250ml, amazon.co.uk

Claim: This liquid contains a high dose (1,450 mg) of vitamin C encapsulated in liposomes — a protective sac of fat — “to protect it from the digestive tract,” says the manufacturer. Take 1 to 2 teaspoons (1,450 to 2,900 mg) per day.

Expert verdict: “The goal here is to bypass the body’s normal vitamin C absorption process in the gut — which is limited to 200 to 400 mg — by using liposomes to release extra vitamin C directly into the blood,” says Aidan Goggins.

“While this approach brings extra vitamin C into the body, it ignores the fact that the body doesn’t need more for everyday functions.

“Research has also shown that high doses of vitamin C can negate the benefits of exercise and increase levels of oxalic acid in the body, leading to kidney stones. In my opinion, this product is an absolute no-go.”

0/10

tea

Vitabiotics Tea+ Vitamin C, £3.95 for 14 sachets, vitabiotics.com

Claim: The orange and blueberry flavored tea bag contains echinacea, green tea and ginseng and provides 80mg of vitamin C per 200ml cup. “Enjoy at least one a day,” says the manufacturer.

Expert verdict: “This is an odd way to get more vitamin C, since we know it’s easily damaged by heat and oxygen,” says Aidan Goggins.

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“I would be interested to know how much vitamin C is left after three minutes of brewing in boiling water. A 2009 study by Zhejiang University in China found that boiling broccoli for five minutes reduced its vitamin C content by about a third.

“There’s a good chance you’re not getting the full 80mg in one cup. Drink it if you like the taste, but I wouldn’t count on it for all your vitamin C needs.”

5/10

Vitabiotics Tea + Vitamin C

Vitabiotics Tea + Vitamin C

serum

La Roche-Posay Pure Vitamin C 10 Serum, £40 for 30ml, boots.com

Claim: The serum contains a 10 percent concentration of vitamin C, which “prevents wrinkles and fine lines and helps correct the appearance of wrinkles,” according to the manufacturer. Apply in the morning.

Expert verdict: “Skin products containing antioxidants like vitamin C may offer protection against free radical damage caused by UVA and UVB rays, which have been linked to skin cancer and premature aging,” says Dr. Justine Hextall, Consultant Dermatologist at Tarrant Street Clinic in Arundel, West Sussex.

“Vitamin C also plays an important role in the production of collagen, which keeps skin firm, elastic and wrinkle-free, so it’s an ingredient worth adding to your skincare routine. However, higher concentrations may irritate the skin.”

8/10

mini muscle could

The little muscles that play big roles

This week: Vastus medialis oblique (VMO) above the knee

The vastus medialis oblique (VMO) is one of four thigh muscles and its specific job is to stabilize the kneecap, keep it in line when the knee is flexed, and prevent the knee from falling inwards. It runs from the pelvis to the inside of the kneecap on the inner edge of the thigh.

Many people have weak VMO, says physical therapist Clare Lewey, and this can lead to kneecap misalignment, pain and inflammation: “You may notice weak VMO by creaky knees and pain in the front of the knee when you stand up afterwards sitting for long periods or climbing stairs,” she says.

To keep it healthy, try sitting on the floor with your legs straight, place a rolled-up towel under your knees and tighten your hamstrings with your leg rotated slightly outward and hold the contraction for five to ten seconds. If you can’t do this without pain, try half squats (lowering down slowly as if you’re about to sit in a high chair) with feet turned outward, or squeezing a soft ball between your knees while being careful getting on your VMO is contracting.