Expert Q&A

Vitamin C: Are bioflavonoids important?

Is a vitamin C supplement with bioflavonoids better than plain vitamin C?

-Yolanda from New York

Bioflavonoids are a class of hundreds of food pigments. Some are particularly concentrated in citrus fruits, and may have biological activity on their own.  Over the years, the belief arose that vitamin C, also present in citrus fruits, was better absorbed in the presence of these bioflavonoids.  As a results, supplements were developed that contained both.  There is actually no evidence for this effect at all. 

Supplemental vitamin C—whether or not it’s “natural” or combined with bioflavonoids—is chemically the same substance, and is absorbed and utilized the same way.  While vitamin C supplements enhanced with bioflavonoids are not any better for vitamin C absorption, the bioflavonoid content may be beneficial for its own biological properties.  Research indicates possible anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity. The amounts of bioflavonoids in most supplements are small compared to the amount obtained by eating an orange.

For more information increasing your vitamin C see the following article from TheDietChannel: Vitamin C: Tips For Increasing Your Intake.

Donna Feldman, MS, RD
Contributing Expert

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