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Ascorbic acid

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A naturally-occurring, water-soluble organic compound with antioxidant properties


Ascorbic acid is one of the vitamers of vitamin C. Nevertheless, it is also simply referred to as vitamin C. Other vitamers of vitamin C are certain oxidized forms such as dehydroascorbic acid.

Ascorbic acid is whitish in color although it may contain impurities and thus may appear yellowish. It is water-soluble and therefore may yield mildly acidic solutions.

The name ascorbic acid is derived from the words a- (meaning absence or none) and scorbutus (pertaining to scurvy). Thus, this compound refers to that vitamin that prevents scurvy. Scurvy is a disease characterized by swollen bleeding gums and the opening of previously healed wounds. It would result when there is not enough ascorbic acid or vitamin C in the diet. Humans, most especially, need to include it in their diet since they lack to ability to produce it. Other animals that are also not capable of producing ascorbic acid naturally are some primates, guinea pigs, bats, certain birds, and teleost fishes.1

IUPAC name: (5R)-[(1S)-1,2-Dihydroxyethyl]-3,4-dihydroxyfuran-2(5H)-one

Chemical formula: C6H8O6


  • vitamin C

See also:

1 Lachapelle, M. Y.; Drouin, G. (2010). "Inactivation dates of the human and guinea pig vitamin C genes". Genetica 139 (2): 199–207.