Self-Motivation
David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
Career Development
Bryan Cranston
Actor
Critical Thinking
Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
Emotional Intelligence
Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Management
Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
Learn
from the world's big
thinkers
Start Learning

Now you can track vitamin C intake on your skin

A new wearable patch has been created at the University of California San Diego.

68 year-old citrus grower Peter Spyke cuts a tangerine at Arapaho Citrus Management grove in Fort Pierce, Florida on November 21, 2019.

Photo by Gianrigo Marletta / AFP via Getty Images
  • A team at the University of California San Diego has developed a non-invasive skin patch that measures your vitamin C levels.
  • An electrode sensor measures vitamin C in your sweat.
  • The researchers hope this leads to the development of multivitamin patches that track nutritional deficiencies.

Vitamin C has long been one of the most discussed and debated vitamins. The curative effects of citrus on scurvy were known to 15th century explorers Vasco de Gama and Pedro Alvares Cabral. Royal Navy surgeon James Lind performed one of the first controlled trials in history in 1747, solidifying vitamin C's role in medicine. Soon after all crewmen received lemon juice while at sea.

As with every medicine, disentangling efficacy from hype is challenging. Two-time Nobel prize winner Linus Pauling went overboard in his fanaticism for vitamin C, popping pills like Silicon Valley elites ingest resveratrol. While Pauling's theories about megavitamin doses remain controversial today, there is no denying the necessity of regular vitamin C intake.

Vitamin C is making headlines during the pandemic. Some believe high doses of intravenous vitamin C help patients with COVID-19 recover faster, yet at the moment there is no proof. A clinical study in China is underway to test its efficacy in treating this novel coronavirus. Megadoses have been shown to help patients dealing with sepsis. Recent research showed positive results when using vitamin C to treat sepsis and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). There is precedent, but not a definitive answer.

Tracking vitamin C is important for some conditions. Being one of the most discussed essential vitamins, researchers at the University of California San Diego developed a wearable non-invasive vitamin C sensor similar to those used to track physical activity in fitness enthusiasts and blood sugar in diabetic patients.

No, Vitamin C won't cure your cold

Julian Sempionatto, first author of a study regarding this sensor, remarks, "This is the first demonstration of using an enzyme-based approach to track changes in the level of a necessary vitamin, and opens a new frontier in the wearable device arena."

The design is simple: an adhesive patch stimulates sweating. An electrode sensor measures vitamin C levels in your sweat. According to research on four human subjects who had taken vitamin C supplements or drank fruit juices, the sensor is highly sensitive. It detects small changes in vitamin levels over the course of two hours. The same sensor could also detect changes in tears and saliva.

Sempionatto believes the biomedical wearables industry is just beginning. He envisions a multivitamin patch in the near future. The study was conducted in Joseph Wang's lab at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering. Wang believes this is an important development in nutrition and health.

"I hope that the new epidermal patch will facilitate the use of wearable sensors for non-invasive nutrition status assessments and tracking of nutrient uptake toward detecting and correcting nutritional deficiencies, assessing adherence to vitamin intake, and supporting dietary behavior change."

--

Stay in touch with Derek on Twitter, Facebook and Substack. His next book is "Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."

Malcolm Gladwell live! | Strangers, Storytelling, and Psychology

Join the legend of non-fiction in conversation with best-selling author and poker pro Maria Konnikova.

Big Think LIVE

Add event to your calendar

AppleGoogleOffice 365OutlookOutlook.comYahoo


Keep reading Show less

Map of the World's Countries Rearranged by Population

China moves to Russia and India takes over Canada. The Swiss get Bangladesh, the Bangladeshi India. And the U.S.? It stays where it is. 

Strange Maps

What if the world were rearranged so that the inhabitants of the country with the largest population would move to the country with the largest area? And the second-largest population would migrate to the second-largest country, and so on?

Keep reading Show less

Virgin Galactic uses space tech to create new supersonic jet

The space tourism company Virgin Galactic teams up with Rolls Royce to create a new Mach 3 supersonic aircraft.

New supersonic aircraft from Virgin Galactic.

Credit: Virgin Galactic
Technology & Innovation
  • Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic announces a partnership with Rolls Royce.
  • The space tourism company will create a new supersonic jet for super-fast travel on Earth.
  • The aircraft will travel at Mach 3 – three times the speed of sound.
Keep reading Show less

Hulu's original movie "Palm Springs" is the comedy we needed this summer

Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti get stuck in an infinite wedding time loop.

Gear
  • Two wedding guests discover they're trapped in an infinite time loop, waking up in Palm Springs over and over and over.
  • As the reality of their situation sets in, Nyles and Sarah decide to enjoy the repetitive awakenings.
  • The film is perfectly timed for a world sheltering at home during a pandemic.
Keep reading Show less
Scroll down to load more…
Quantcast