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tautomeric isomers. The first synthesis of vitamin C was announced almost simultaneously by Ault et al.238 and Reichstein239 in 1933. Since that time, it has been synthesized in several different ways.

Vitamin C can be synthesized by nearly all living organisms, plants, and animals; but primates, guinea pigs, bats, and a few other species cannot produce this vitamin. The consensus is that organisms that cannot synthesize vitamin C lack the liver microsomal enzyme L-gulonolactone oxidase (1.1.3.8), which catalyzes the terminal step of the biosynthetic process. Sato and Udenfriend240 summarized studies of the biosynthesis of vitamin C in mammals and the biochemical and genetic basis for the incapability of some species to synthesize the vitamin. Because humans are one of the few animal species that cannot synthesize vitamin C, it has to be available as a dietary component.

Dietary sources of ascorbic acid include fruits (especially citrus fruits), vegetables (especially peppers), and potatoes. Although the sources of some commercial products are rose hips and citrus fruits, most ascorbic acid is prepared synthetically.

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