Organic Vitamin C vs. Synthetic Vitamin C: What's the Difference?

By The Ora Crew

Is synthetic vitamin C as effective as natural vitamin C? Ora breaks down the facts and delves into the sources of each.

Fun fact: Humans are unable to synthesize vitamin C endogenously (in the body), so, we need to consume it via our diet or through supplementation.

While vitamin C is naturally present in some foods, largely fruits and vegetables, we all know how tough it can be to meet our daily vitamin quotas.

This is where supplements come into play. Because going into flu season with a poor immune system is like going to battle without armor - NOT favorable.

Provided you are taking a quality supplement, vitamin C supplementation is a sure-fire way of keeping you, and your immunity, on top of its game.

So what kind of characteristics define a "quality" vitamin C supplement?

Well, a lot of things really, but here at Ora Organic it comes down to these simple standards:

Choose a vitamin C supplement, in its whole food form, that’s high in bioflavonoids, is made cleanly, and is 100% certified organic

Vitamin C Isn't Made from Oranges

Most vitamin C supplements on the market use synthetic vitamin C or ascorbic acid. The majority of this synthetic vitamin C is originally derived from GMO corn and processed with chemicals like acetone (think: nail polish remover) that are not used in the production of organic certified products. 

Synthetic vitamin C is often derived from GMO corn. 

To make matters worse, supplements containing synthetic vitamin C are often advertised as "natural" and are added to other organic foods as a preservative.

A growing amount of evidence shows a correlation between high consumption of synthetic ascorbic acid and health implications such as thickening arteries and the formation of genotoxins that can even lead to cancer.

Yikes - the flu isn't sounding so bad then!

Organic Vitamin C Is Complete

Organic, truly au naturel, vitamin C refers to whole food vitamin C occurring in its natural state.

Synthetic vitamin C is simply a stripped down, isolated version of vitamin C; devoid of the micronutrients, dietary fiber and phytochemicals (eg. bioflavonoids) found in vitamin-rich wholefoods.   

Vitamin C in its wholefood form contains bioflavonoids (bioavailable flavonoids). Bioflavonoids are powerful antioxidants which enhance the use of vitamin C by improving its absorption and prolonging its effectiveness.

Flavonoids in and of themselves provide a myriad of health benefits, so much so that although not technically a vitamin. They are collectively referred to as "vitamin P" in recognition of their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiallergenic, antiviral, and anti-carcinogenic properties.

Best Sources of Vitamin C

At Ora Organic they source their vitamin C supplement from organic acerola cherries.

The acerola cherry has an extremely high vitamin C content. In fact, it has one of the highest vitamin C contents of any other food, topped only by camu camu (which has an extremely bitter flavor, making it difficult to make yummy products with #teamtasty).

Acerola is loaded with over 150 phytonutrients. In other words, it has a complete vitamin C complex.

How to Check If a Vitamin C Supplement Is Organic

You'd think that the easiest way to tell if a supplement is organic is to see if it has the USDA or CCOF Organic symbol on it, however, having this certification doesn't necessarily mean that all the ingredients in the product are organic.

The best way to check whether or not a supplement source is organic is to look at the supplement facts on the label and see what the wording is next to the nutrient (Vitamin C in this case).

If it's from an organic, real food source, it will specify the source right there e.g. "from organic acerola extract," or will be similar to "from organic whole food blend." If the source has been produced synthetically, it will say "from ascorbic acid."

Here's an example from one of our organic supplement products and a conventional vitamin c supplement to help you spot the difference.


Not every supplement manufacturer follows this formatting, so if you're not sure about a product's source, it's always okay to ask! Make sure you get a clear answer - and if you don't, then steer clear of the product in question.