Ascorbic acid helps maintain the red color of cured meat and prevents the formation of nitrosamines, which promote cancer (see SODIUM NITRITE). It helps prevent loss of color and flavor by reacting with unwanted oxygen. It is used as a nutrient additive in drinks and breakfast cereals. Sodium ascorbate is a more soluble form of ascorbic acid. ERYTHORBIC ACID is very similar to ascorbic acid, but has no value as a vitamin. Large amounts of ascorbic acid may reduce the severity of colds and offer other health benefits..