Like vitamin C, only better, its makers say

Ester-C, a patented vitamin C compound composed of ascorbic acid and calcium, was developed in the 1980s and is now widely available as a dietary supplement. The supplement's manufacturers say it's more easily absorbed and less readily excreted from the body than standard vitamin C.

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Uses: Ester-C can be used as a replacement for standard vitamin C tablets, which are often taken to boost immunity and fend off ills.

Dose: Supplement makers recommend 100 to 1,000 milligrams of Ester-C daily. The daily recommended intake for vitamin C is 60 milligrams.

Precautions: Ester-C, like vitamin C, is generally considered safe in large doses.

Research: Animal studies in the 1980s showed that rats absorbed Ester-C better than pure ascorbic acid and were less likely to develop scurvy when given Ester-C compared with ascorbic acid. But later studies in dogs and humans showed no significant difference in absorption rates between the different forms of the vitamin.

Dietary-supplement makers are not required by the U.S. government to demonstrate that their products are safe or effective. Ask your health-care provider for advice on selecting a brand.

-- Elena Conis

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