The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Ascorbic acid

L-Ascorbic acid
Chemical name 2-oxo-L-threo-hexono-
Chemical formula C6H8O6
Molecular mass 176.12 g/mol
Melting point 190 - 192 °C
CAS number 50-81-7
SMILES OC1=C(C(O[[email protected]@H]1
[[email protected]](CO)O)=O)O
chemical structure of L-Ascorbic acid

Ascorbic acid is an organic acid with antioxidant properties. The L-enantiomer of ascorbic acid is commonly known as vitamin C. In 1937 the Nobel Prize for chemistry was awarded to Walter Haworth for his work in determining the structure of ascorbic acid, (It was shared with Paul Karrer, who received his award for work on vitamins), and the prize for Medicine that year went to Albert Szent-Györgyi for his studies of the biological functions of ascorbic acid.

See the vitamin C article for a discussion of social, historical and medical aspects.



Ascorbic acid is easily oxidized and so is used as a reductant in photographic developer solutions (among others) and as a preservative.

The L enantiomer of ascorbic acid is also known as vitamin C (the name "ascorbic" comes from its property of preventing and curing scurvy). Primates (including humans) and a few other species, such as the guinea pig, cannot synthesise vitamin C from glucose.

Ascorbic acid and its sodium, potassium, and calcium salts are commonly used as antioxidant food additives. These compounds are water soluble and thus cannot protect fats from oxidation: for this purpose, the fat-soluble esters of ascorbic acid with long-chain fatty acids (ascorbyl palmitate or ascorbyl stearate) can be used as food antioxidants. The relevant European food additive E numbers are: E300 ascorbic acid, E301 sodium ascorbate, E302 calcium ascorbate, E303 potassium ascorbate, E304 fatty acid esters of ascorbic acid (i) ascorbyl palmitate (ii) ascorbyl stearate.

See also

  • Vitamin C for a discussion of the medical properties of ascorbic acid as well as its historic and social role.

Last updated: 02-08-2005 22:50:10
Last updated: 04-25-2005 03:06:01