Letter | Published:

Constitution of Ascorbic Acid

Nature volume 131, page 617 (29 April 1933) | Download Citation



WE have now confirmed the accuracy of the structure (I) cooH.co.co.CHOH.CHOH.CH2OH which we had previously assigned to the first (reversible) oxidation product of ascorbic acid on the ground that it yields oxalic acid and trihydroxybutyric acid (l–threonic acid) on further oxidation1. The above formulation represents an open chain acid, but it is now evident that at the moment of formation the substance behaves as a lactone of (I) and not as the free acid. We have already advanced a constitutional formula for ascorbic acid (represented by (II) and its tautomerides) which shows the relationship between (I) and (II) to be as follows :2

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. 1.

    NATURE, 130, 888 ; 1932.

  2. 2.

    J.S.C.I.(Chemistry and Industry), 52, 221; 1933.

  3. 3.

    Helv. Chim. Acta, 16, 181 ; 1933.

  4. 4.

    NATURE, 131, 274, Feb. 25, 1933.

  5. 5.

    Z. physiol. Chem., 215, 222 ; 1933.

  6. 6.

    Helv. Chim. Acta, 16, 302 ; 1933.

Download references

Author information


  1. Chemistry Department, University of Birmingham. April 7.

    • E. L. HIRST
    • , E. G. V. PERCIVAL
    •  & F. SMITH


  1. Search for E. L. HIRST in:

  2. Search for E. G. V. PERCIVAL in:

  3. Search for F. SMITH in:

About this article

Publication history




Further reading


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.