The pharmacokinetics of vitamin C (vitC) is indeed complex. Regulated primarily by a family of saturable sodium dependent vitC transporters (SVCTs), the absorption and elimination are highly dose-dependent. Moreover, the tissue specific expression levels and subtypes of these SVCTs result in a compartmentalized distribution pattern with a diverse range of organ concentrations of vitC at homeostasis ranging from about 0.2 mM in the muscle and heart, and up to 10 mM in the brain and adrenal gland. The homeostasis of vitC is influenced by several factors, including genetic polymorphisms and environmental and lifestyle factors such as smoking and diet, as well as diseases. Going from physiological to pharmacological doses, vitC pharmacokinetics change from zero to first order, rendering the precise calculation of dosing regimens in, for example, cancer and sepsis treatment possible. Unfortunately, the complex pharmacokinetics of vitC has often been overlooked in the design of intervention studies, giving rise to misinterpretations and erroneous conclusions. The present review outlines the diverse aspects of vitC pharmacokinetics and examines how they affect vitC homeostasis under a variety of conditions.
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