Ester-C is a patented combination of vitamin C (as calcium ascorbate) along with various metabolites of vitamin C, such as threonate and aldonic acid. Ester_C is clamined to be better absorbed and utilized compared to other forms of vitamin C. However, absorption studies have not shown it to be better absorbed. Because it is a buffered vitamin C, it tends to be less irritating to the stomach.
Folic acid, also known as folate and folacin, functions together with vitamin B12 in many body processes. It is essential to cellular division because it is necessary in DNA synthesis; without folic acid cells do not divide properly. Folic acid is critical to the development of the nervous system of the fetus. Deficiency of folic acid during pregnancy has been linked to several birth defects, including neural tube defects such as spina bifida. Folic acid deficiency is also being linked to depression, atherosclerosis, and osteoporosis.
Folic acid, vitamin B12, and a form of the amino acid methionine known as SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine) function as “methyl donors”, that is, they carry and donate methyl molecules to facilitate biochemical reactions, including the manufacture of DNA and brain neurotransmitters.
Folic acid and other methyl donors reduce body concentrations of homocysteine, which has been implicated in a variety of conditions including other osclerosis and osteoporosis. Homocysteine is thought to promote atherosclerosis by directly damaging the artery as well as reducing the integrity of the vessel wall. In osteoporosis, elevated homocysteine levels lead to a defective bone matrix by interfering with the proper formation of collagen (the main protein in bone).
Cervical dysplasia is an abnormal condition of the cells of the cervix. It is generally regarded as a precancerous lesion, and has risk factors similar to those of cervical cancer. It is quite probable that many abnormal Pap smears reflect folate deficiency rather than true dysplasia, especially in women who are pregnant or taking oral contraceptives, because estrogens antagonize folic acid. Folic acid supplementation (10 mg per day) has resulted in improvement or normalization of Pap smears in patients with cervical dysplasia in clinical studies.
Folic acid exerts a mild antidepressant effect, presumably via its function as a methyl donor, which helps increase levels of serotonin in the brain. Folic acid supplementation in depressed patients taking antidepressant drugs such as fluoxetine (Prozac) was found to enhance the antidepressant action of the drugs.
Heart disease (atherosclerosis) prevention
Elevated homocysteine levels are an independent risk factor for heart attack, stroke, or peripheral vascular disease. Elevations in homocysteine are found in approximately 20 to 40 percent of patients with heart disease. It is estimated that folic acid supplementation (400 mcg daily) alone would reduce the number of heart attacks suffered by Americans each year by 10 percent.
Prevention of birth defects
Numerous studies have now demonstrated the benefit of folic acid supplementation in pregnancy – beginning either before conception or very early on in the pregnancy, and continuing throughout – in preventing a type of birth defect known as a neural tube defect (e.g., spina bifida). The evidence became so overwhelming that the FDA finally had to reverse its previous position, acknowledging the association and allowing folic acid supplements and foods fortified with folic acid to claim that “daily consumption of folic acid by women of childbearing age may reduce the risk of neural tube defects”.
Folic acid is available as folic acid (folate) and folinic acid (5-methyltetrahydrofolate). In order to utilize folic acid, the body must convert it to folinic acid. Therefore, supplying the body with folinic acid allows it to bypass this process. Folinic acid is the most active form and has been shown to be more efficient at raising body stores than folic acid.
Food and Nutrient Interactions
Folic acid supplements are generally better absorbed than the folic acid naturally present in foods.
For general health and the prevention of atherosclerosis and neural tube defects: 400 mcg to 1,000 mcg daily. For the treatment of cervical dysplasia and depression: 10 mg (10,000 mcg) daily. (Note: Since the FDA restricts the amount of folic acid available in nutritional supplements to 800 mcg, higher dosages are best achieved with a prescription from a health care provider).