Mineral Ascorbates are vitamin C (usually ascorbic acid) bound to one or more minerals. These minerals are typically calcium, magnesium, potassium, and/or sodium and may include minor minerals like zinc. Many people prefer mineral ascorbates, also known as buffered, forms of vitamin C since they may be better absorbed, easier on the system since they are non-acidic, and more effective for combatting some maladies. Mineral ascorbates are also useful to supplement minerals like calcium and magnesium. Most mineral ascorbates have relatively small amounts of minerals since it only takes roughly 1 part of a base, alkaline mineral like magnesium or calcium (in the form of carbonate) to fully react 10 or more parts of ascorbic acid. If one likes to get a lot of vitamin C, such as 3g or more per day, they are an ideal form of both vitamin C and minerals, Also note that mineral ascorbates are one of the better absorbed forms of minerals so less is needed to achieve the same effects as poorly absorbed forms of these minerals.
There are two types of mineral ascorbates. The most common type is fully-reacted, where the ascorbate reaction has already occurred. With this type, it is possible to have the product in capsule or tablet form, in addition to powdered form. The other type is the non-reacted. The best known product of the non-reacted type is probably Emergen-C, the powder packets. Non-reacted types must be mixed with water so the reaction occurs. This is an effervescent reaction, with carbon dioxide forming as the ascorbic acid mixes with the alkaline mineral(s) to form the mineral ascorbates. The non-reacted type can also come in large tablets meant to be added to water to effervesce. One doesnot want to make the mistake of swallowing a non-reacted type without first adding to water to let the effervescent reaction occur since if it occurs in the stomach, it is a painful and gassy experience!
There are many products of each type available. An example of the fully-reacted form is Ester-C, which is calcium ascorbate. Even when Ester-C comes in powder form, it is already reacted, although people who don't like to use capsules or tablets may prefer it in a powder anyway. The trademarked Ester-C formula is licensed to many different manufacturers and used in a wide variety of products. Lately, many if not most supplement manufacturers are just making their own calcium ascorbate without licensing the Ester-C name, That is so they can make their products more affordable. A good example of this is Now Calcium Ascorbate.
Another example of a reacted mineral ascorbate is Allergy Research Magnesium Ascorbate, which comes in capsule form. Some multivitamins contain vitamin C in the form of a mineral ascorbate, too, usually magnesium and/or calcium ascorbate. Although Ester-C is a trademark,there are many other manufacturers of calcium ascorbate, too, and they are usually less expensive and just as high, or higher, quality. A good example of this is Now Foods Calcium Ascorbate. It comes in capsule or fully reacted powder forms and with about the same ratio of calcium to vitamin C as Ester-C.
Besides calcium ascorbate, Now has other reacted mineral ascorbates products in tablet, capsule, and powder form including magnesium ascorbate and sodium ascorbate, plus Now Ascorbate Minerals, which is an excellent tableted supplement with calcium, magnesium, zinc,. potassium, and manganese ascorbates. Many people prefer to use this type instead of Ester-C or plain calcium ascorbate since magnesium, for example, is usually much harder to get in the diet so more people are deficient, so a more beneficial supplement than calcium.
The other type of mineral ascorbate product is the non-reacted type. The most popular product of this genre is probably Alacer's Emergen-C. Emergen-C is highly regarded by Electroherbalism and is widely available at drug stores, markets, even Wal-mart. Emergen-C has an excellent formula with ascorbates of calcium, magnesium (more magnesium than calcium!), zinc, manganese, chromium, sodium, and potassium. Emergen-C is also convenient and comes in small single serving packets which are easy to pack for travel, work, or whenever they might be necessary. Emergen-C comes in many varieties and for various purposes. One has MSM (1000mg per packet), another with glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin (called Joint Health), another with cranberry powder, and many others.
Twinlab makes two non-reacted mineral ascorbate powdered products called Ascorbate-C and Super Ascorbate-C. The Ascorbate-C has just calcium ascorbate with rose hips, bioflavonoids, acerola, and rutin, while the Super Ascorbate-C, a better formula, uses a mixture of minerals (calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, etc) instead of just calcium.
Nutribiotic, best known for their grapefruit seed extracts and protein powders, also makes a line of excellent ascorbate powders and other vitamin C and mineral supplmenets including Ascorbate Bio-C, Hypo-Aller-C, Meta-C, and also Essential Electrolytes. These are harder to find to purchase than many of the other brands, although Amazon has a good selection.
The top-rated fully reacted mineral ascorbates line is Source Naturals Ultimate Ascorbate-C. This come in tablets or powder form. Although you get more ascorbates for the money with the powder form, the tablet are very high potency and in addition to the calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and manganese that is in the powder, also includes bioflavonoids, rutin, vitamin D, and hersperidin.
Someone who does not like the nutrient ratios of the various mineral ascorbates products described above or just wants to save a lot of money can make their own non-reacted formulation using ascorbic acidmixed with magnesium, calcium, potassium, and/or sodium carbonates or bicarbonates. Note that, like Emergen-C, these MUST be mixed in water before use. Note that Now Vitamin C Crystals is pure ascorbic acid (it used to be called Now Ascorbic Acid) and comes in a size as large as 3lb, which is 1362 one gram servings. All that is involved is mixing ascorbic acid with the desired carbonate and storing the powder in a dry place. Note that if moisture gets into this mixture it will turn it into a rock, so don't go mixing up pounds of the stuff.
Calcium carbonate powder is easy to find and very inexpensive. Since Now stopped making it, magnesium carbonate powder is much more difficult to find although Freeda Vitamins and PureBulk do still sell it. Potassium carbonate or bicarbonate is even harder to find, but some chemical supply houses and Purebulk do carry it, usually for a high price when in ACS or USP food grade quality. Sodium bicarbonate is very inexpensive and widely available since it is just baking soda.
A good product to use to make DIY mineral ascorbates is Cardiovascular ResearchEcological Formulas Reagent Quality Tri-Salts Mineral Bicarbonates. Tri-Salts are carbonates and bicarbonates of calcium, magnesium, and potassium with 1/2 tsp providing 450mg calcium, 250mg magnesium, and 99mg potassium. This can be mixed in varying ratios with Now Ascorbic Acid Vitamin C Crystals, or other powdered ascorbic acid. When it is mixed with too little ascorbic acid, a tri-salts mixture will taste chalky and flat, but if one desires a very alkaline mineral ascorbates with a high pH, this could be done easily, for example mixing 1/2 tsp or more of the tri salts with a tsp of ascorbic acid. Plain calcium carbonate or magnesium carbonate can be mixed with ascorbic acid, too, to make calcium and/or magnesium ascorbates in whatever ratio one desires.
Note that while calcium carbonate is a pretty concentrated source of calcium (about 40% of calcium carbonate is calcium), there is not as much magnesium in magnesium carbonate - about 25% is magnesium. This means that a gram (about 1/4 tsp) of calcium carbonate contains about 400mg of calcium while a gram of magnesium carbonate (closer to 1/2 tsp since it is light and "fluffy") contains about 250mg.
A good mixture for the Tri-Salts to make a small batch is 6 tablespoons ascorbic acid to 1 tablespoon of Tri-Salts. When mixed with water it will fully react the ascorbic acid with plenty of alkalyzing minerals to spare and does not taste too bad at this ratio.