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Fizzy vitamin C tablets contain more “salt” than TWO packets of crisps

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New research into the sodium content of vitamin C effervescent tablets has revealed that many contain the equivalent of more salt than two packets of Walkers Ready Salted crisps. 


Salt, also known as sodium chloride, is a compound made up of sodium (40%) and chlorine (60%). Adults should consume no more than 2.4g sodium per day, which is equivalent to 6g salt: Salt = sodium x 2.5.

The research, undertaken as part of a survey commissioned by Healthspan, the UK’s number one direct supplier of vitamins and minerals, to launch its new Ruby Breakfast Vitamin C effervescent, examined the salt equivalent content of popular brands’ effervescent tablets, including Berroca and Boots.  

The average sodium content of each tablet was revealed to be the equivalent of 2.1 bags of crisps; 17 per cent of a person’s upper daily limit. While effervescent tablets do not contain salt, they do contain the sodium – too much of which is bad for your heart.

How sodium affects heart health
Sodium is a well-known contributor to high blood pressure, a condition affecting around 30 per cent of the UK’s population, according to the NHS.

"Heart problems are a common side effect in a diet too high in salt", says Dr Sarah Brewer. "Too much salt will raise your blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease, stroke and heart attack." 

Of those surveyed, 90 per cent recognised the effect that salt had upon blood pressure, yet only 49 per cent admitted to checking food labels to monitor their consumption.

Most worryingly, however, was that just one per cent of people said that they checked the labels on VMS supplements such as vitamin C.

Vitamin C and salt
Despite almost 60 per cent of people saying they take vitamin C effervescent tablets to help boost immunity, combat the common cold or give them more energy, a staggering 85 per cent were unaware that their daily tablet contained sodium.

“While a vitamin C effervescent is a popular way to consume higher doses of vitamin C, the high level of sodium outweighs the benefits”, says Dr. Sarah Brewer.

“Unfortunately, sodium has traditionally been used as the reactant, causing your tablet to fizz.”

Because vitamin C is water soluble, it is one of the most commonly ‘overtaken’ supplements available, with 25 per cent of people admitting to taking more than one vitamin C effervescent per day.

Which brands come out the worst?

Product

Salt equivalent (mg)

% of RDA

Crisp packet equivalent =

Berroca

718mg

12%

1.6

Boots blackcurrant flavoured vitamin C effervescent

965mg

16%

2.1

Boots orange flavoured vitamin C effervescent

732mg

12%

1.6

Redoxon vitamin C + zinc

624mg

10%

1.4

Valupak orange flavoured vitamin C effervescent

861mg

14%

1.4

Waitrose blackcurrant flavoured vitamin C effervescent

1002mg

17%

2.2

Waitrose orange flavoured vitamin C effervescent

942mg

16%

2

 
Of the seven products tested, Waitrose blackcurrant flavoured vitamin C effervescent had the highest sodium content, equating to more than two bags of crisps. In fact, both blackcurrant varieties (Boots, Waitrose) contained more sodium than standard orange flavoured tablets.

Rob Hobson, Healthspan’s head of nutrition said:

“Each of these products contain a startling amount of sodium – particularly if you are older or suffer from high blood pressure.”

Does this mean we stop taking vitamin C tablets?
“The latest National Diet and Nutrition Surveys (NDNS) show that only 27% of adults aged 19-64 meet the 5-a-day recommendation for fruit and vegetables”, explains Dr Sarah Brewer.

“This is worrying, as fruit and veg are the main dietary source of vitamin C; a lack of which has been linked to an increase in conditions such as scurvy.”

Moreover, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to obtain enough nutrients from the food we eat. To fulfill your RDA of vitamin C from fresh oranges, for example, you would need to eat 12 per day.

What are the alternatives?

Healthspan have created the UK’s first low-sodium vitamin C effervescent (patent pending), of which each tablet contains less than 1 per cent of your daily salt allowance.

Providing 1000mg (1,250% NRV) vitamin C per dose, each tablet contains natural grapefruit flavouring and helps maintain regular blood pressure, supports the immune system and contributes to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue.

Healthspan’s Ruby Breakfast Vitamin C Effervescent, 60 tablets, £11.95 is available from www.healthspan.co.uk



Sarah Brewer graduated as a doctor from Cambridge University. Having worked in hospitals and general practice, she gained a Master's degree in Nutritional Medicine from the University of Surrey. She is the author of over 60 popular health books and writes widely on all aspects of health including complementary medicine. More from this expert.

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