Skin care fads come and go, but one thing is certain: vitamin C is absolutely essential to skin health.
As the body’s largest organ, our skin protects us from many forces outside the body, including moisture, the sun’s ray, cold, pathogens, and much more. It deserves the best of care in return.
• Vitamin C is present at high levels in all layers of the skin.
• The human body cannot produce its own Vitamin C.
• Ascorbic acid can be applied topically (as a lotion or serum onto the skin) or ingested (eaten) – both will find their way to the skin cells.
Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, plays many roles in protecting the skin and its structure. Here are some of the main functions it fulfills.
Protection against UV light exposure
In this case, it’s not that vitamin C acts as a kind of sunscreen. It’s the antioxidant activity of ascorbic acid that protects skin against damage from free radicals that can result from UV ray exposure. However, at the same time, UV light decreases the levels of vitamin C in the skin. Studies on rodents saw skin tumors that were caused by chronic sun exposure reduced by simply adding ascorbic acid to their diet. The conclusion? Increase your vitamin C intake when you are spending a lot of time in the sun.
Collagen is a type of protein that provides structure to the body’s connective tissues, such as tendons, ligaments, and skin. It is the protein that gives your skin elasticity. Vitamin C plays a crucial role in the development of collagen in the body. As we age, and also with damage from over exposure to the sun, collagen production slows down. Studies using skin cells in cultures (i.e. not in a living human) have shown that supplementing vitamin C helps the skin produce more collagen to repair itself, and even repair damaged DNA.
While the research is still ongoing, some studies have been performed that indicate increased levels of vitamin C can help prevent skin from drying out. In the tests, vitamin C helped to promote the production of the fats (lipids) that form a protective moisture barrier for the skin.
When the skin is broken in a wound, it produces inflammation, and free radicals which can cause a cascade of damage in the body. Vitamin C levels in the skin are decreased. Increased levels of vitamin C result in less inflammation and increased collagen production, and it is known that vitamin C deficiency (scurvy) does result in poor wound healing.
One fact emerges clearly – vitamin C is essential for skin health.