Vitamin C consists of a single molecule, called ascorbic acid or ascorbate, composed of six carbon atoms, six oxygen atoms, and eight hydrogen atoms, all linked to greater by chemical bonds.
All animals and plants synthesize their own vitamin C, except for a small number of animals, including guinea pigs, humans, apes, the red-vented bulbul, a fruit eating bat and a species of trout, that cannot.
Vitamin C is heat labile, and is destroyed by alkali solutions but stabilized by acid solution. It absorbs light whereupon it is destroyed.
The active part of the substance is the ascorbate ion, which can express itself as either an acid or a salt of ascorbate, that is neutral or slightly basic.
Commercial vitamin C is often a mix of ascorbic acid, sodium ascorbate and/or other ascorbates. Absence of vitamin C causes scurvy, leading to spongy gums, loosed teeth, bruising, and bleeding into the mucous membranes.