Vitamin C Analysis: Obtaining Accurate Color Absorption Measurement with Spectrophotometers

Summer is officially over and autumn is upon us, with shorter days and colder weather already spreading its frigid hand across the northern regions. Along with this drastic shift in climate, comes the dreaded cold and flu season which has consumers filling their shopping baskets with citrus fruits and vitamin supplements in hopes of warding off any germs lurking nearby. Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) typically takes the spotlight when it comes to nutritional value and immunity-boosting potential and is easily measured in color absorption through the use of spectrophotometers.

sliced orange color absorption
Consumers flock the produce and supplement isles in search of products that contain high levels of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) to help boost body functioning and strengthen their immune systems.
Image Source: Flickr user Pink Sherbet Photography

Staking a claim on vitamin C

Color absorption measurement of vitamin C is important to nutritional and medical research analysts because of the substantial health benefits it provides. Due to these claims, it is widely desired by consumers for its renowned ability to boost the immune system, but the benefits do not stop there. Today’s research shows multiple benefits of vitamin C, which include:

  • helping to prevent cancer and heart disease
  • detoxifying the body
  • supporting the good bacteria in your gut
  • preventing hardening of the arteries
  • building collagen, which help prevent wrinkles
  • neutralizing harmful environmental and bacterial toxins
  • destroying free radicals
  • combating stress and acting as an antidepressant
  • removing heavy metals like mercury and lead
  • lowering high cholesterol

Food provides the main source of vitamins for humans, so the ability to determine quantitative levels of ascorbic acid in food products through color absorption is essential. Strict guidelines have been developed through the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) that state the requirements for making claims on the health benefits of vitamin C in food products, dependent on their color absorption measurement levels. The FDA requirements for food indicate that it must be a fruit or vegetable and provide a “good source” of vitamin C without fortification.

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spinach color absorption
Fruits and vegetables both provide a ‘good source’ of vitamin C which is recommended in our daily diets.
Image Source: Flickr user Daniella Segura

Food products must be able to provide quantifiable data that proves a significant level of vitamin C is present. Color absorption measurement through spectrophotometric analysis provides the most accurate and easy-to-use analysis for this purpose.

Spectral Analysis of Vitamin C

Color absorption is the key factor in the analysis of ascorbic acid (vitamin C). Spectral analysis uses absorption of visible light and the transmittance of other wavelengths to determine the physical properties of a product sample. “The absorption or transmission of specific wavelengths is characteristic for a substance, and a spectral analysis serves as a ‘fingerprint’ of the compound.” Color absorption determines the specific “finger print” for vitamin C using a spectrophotometric analysis, and provides quantifiable data that allows for products to make explicit claims and ensure proper labeling.

Color absorption levels can change frequently depending on a number of different variables. Vitamin C levels in fruits and vegetables can contrast greatly depending on a variety of factors such as species, maturity, soil, climate, season, and processing methods.  These changes must be measured and quantified regularly to assure consistency between locations and product batches.

tomatoes color absorption
Levels of vitamin C can vary greatly due to changes in soil quality, location, ripening, and processing methods.
Image source: Flickr user Nina Matthews Photography

Instrumentation Requirements

Spectrophotometers provide the most effective and simplest method for color absorption analysis of vitamin C. Choosing the right methods and instrumentation for specific measurement needs are imperative  and dependent upon the specific characteristics and properties of the product sample you are measuring. Hunterlab has over 60 years of experience in the food industry and has developed product solutions for many of the leading produce manufactures in the nation. We offer a variety of durable instrumentation that is accurate and easy to use, and we back our products with our promise of satisfaction and exceptional customer support. To find a solution for all your color measurement needs, contact HunterLab today.

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