Special Update on Ascorbyl Palmitate: The Fat-Soluble Form of Vitamin C

Fat-soluble versus water-soluble vitamins

Vitamins are either fat-soluble or water-soluble. Water-soluble vitamin C and the B complex are excreted in urine, if taken in excess. The fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, K accumulate within the fat stores of the body and within the liver.

Although most animals produce their own vitamin C, humans, primates and guinea pigs have lost this ability. Since your body can’t manufacture it, vitamin C must be obtained through diet and supplementation.

Fat-soluble vitamin C

Ascorbyl palmitate is a fat-soluble form of vitamin C, which is better absorbed than ascorbic acid, the water-soluble form. It offers all the benefits of ascorbic acid, plus it won’t flush out of the body as quickly as ascorbic acid, and it is able to be stored in cell membranes until the body needs it.

Ascorbyl palmitate is an amphipathic molecule, which means one end is water-soluble and the other end is fat-soluble. This dual solubility allows it to permeate the extra-cellular aqueous environment of the cell and the interior cellular environment, as well. When it is incorporated into the cell membranes of human red blood cells, ascorbyl palmitate protects them from oxidative damage and also helps protect vitamin E (a fat-soluble antioxidant) from oxidation by free radicals.1

Ascorbyl Palmitate has powerful antioxidant properties, helps maintain normal connective tissue, may reduce the risk of certain cancers as well as coronary artery disease, and helps in the healing of wounds.

What else does vitamin C do?

Vitamin C is an important weapon in your immune system’s arsenal against bacteria and viruses. It also helps protect unsaturated fatty acids from being oxidized, therefore protecting their potency. A protective vitamin essential to over-all body health, vitamin C is especially important for neutralizing free radicals. It also:

  • helps in the production of collagen and maintenance of healthy skin and blood vessels
  • promotes the healing of scar tissue and fractures
  • gives strength to blood vessels
  • helps prevent and treat the common cold
  • promotes healthy teeth and gums
  • helps the body utilize iron and folic acid
  • supports the thymus gland
  • enhances T-cell production, increasing resistance to viral and bacterial infections, and some allergies
  • helps increase interferon levels
  • aids in the absorption of iron and the formation of red blood cells
  • protects blood lipids from peroxidation2
  • reduces the effects of some allergy-producing substances

A deficiency of vitamin C may result in bleeding gums, swollen or painful joints, slow healing of wounds and fractures, the tendency to bruise or bleed in any part of the body, scurvy, and cardiovascular disease.

Advantages of ascorbyl palmitate

One of the advantages of taking a nutritional supplement that contains ascorbyl palmitate and ascorbic acid is that you may require a smaller dosage because ascorbyl palmitate doesn’t flush out of your system as quickly as water-soluble vitamin C. More importantly, exciting new research done on laboratory animals and in vitro indicates that ascorbyl palmitate:

  • is a preventative against stomach cancer and colon cancer 3 4
  • reduces the toxic effects of acetaminophen better than ascorbic acid 5 6 7
  • stimulates collagen synthesis at lower doses than ascorbic acid 8 9
  • is a powerful free radical scavenger 10

Most supplements contain little or no ascorbyl palmitate because it is much more expensive than regular ascorbic acid. Because both the fat-soluble and water-soluble forms of vitamin C each has unique properties, it makes sense to obtain our supplemental vitamin C from both forms. A well designed vitamin C or multi-nutrient supplement should contain at least 25% of its vitamin C in the fat-soluble, ascorbyl palmitate form.


  1. Higdon, R.N., Ph.D. The Bioavailability of Different Forms of Vitamin C.
  2. Passwater, R.A., Ph.D. The New Supernutrition. Pocket Books, NY 1991
  3. Shimpo K, Takahashi H, Tsuda H, Hibino T, Kawai K, Kimura C, Nagatsu T, Fujita K. Inhibition of hepatocellular carcinoma development and erythrocyte polyamine levels in ODS rats fed on 3′-methyl-4-dimethylaminoazobenzene by hemicalcium ascorbate, 2-O-octadecylascorbic acid, and ascorbyl palmitate. Cancer Detect Prev 1996;20(2):137-45.
  4. Wargovich MJ, Harris C, Chen CD, Palmer C, Steele VE, Kelloff GJ. Growth kinetics and chemoprevention of aberrant crypts in the rat colon. J Cell Biochem Suppl 1992;16G:51-4
  5. Mitra A, Kulkarni AP, Ravikumar VC, Bourcier DR. Effect of ascorbic acid esters on hepatic glutathione levels in mice treated with a hepatotoxic dose of acetaminophen. J Biochem Toxicol 1991 Summer;6(2):93-100.
  6. Mitra A, Ravikumar VC, Bourn WM, Bourcier DR. Influence of ascorbic acid esters on acetaminophen-induced hepatotoxicity in mice. Toxicol Lett 1988 Nov;44(1-2):39-46
  7. Jonker D, Lee VS, Hargreaves RJ, Lake BG. Comparison of the effects of ascorbyl palmitate and L-ascorbic acid on paracetamol-induced hepatotoxicity in the mouse. Toxicology 1988 Nov 30;52(3):287-95
  8. Rosenblat G, Willey A, Zhu YN, Jonas A, Diegelmann RF, Neeman I, Graham MF. Palmitoyl ascorbate: selective augmentation of procollagen mRNA expression compared with L-ascorbate in human intestinal smooth muscle cells. J Cell Biochem 1999 Jun 1;73(3):312-20.
  9. Rosenblat G, Perelman N, Katzir E, Gal-Or S, Jonas A, Nimni ME, Sorgente N, Neeman I. Acylated ascorbate stimulates collagen synthesis in cultured human foreskin fibroblasts at lower doses than does ascorbic acid. Connect Tissue Res 1998;37(3-4):303-11.
  10. Perricone N, Nagy K, Horvath F, Dajko G, Uray I, Zs-Nagy I. The hydroxyl free radical reactions of ascorbyl palmitate as measured in various in vitro models. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 1999 Sep 7;262(3):661-5