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You must have heard a lot about Vitamin C and its health benefits in your science classes, right? Well, we all have, but did anyone tell you about the powerful effects of Vitamin C on the skin? Vitamin C is popular for its ability to improve the texture of your skin, prevent aging, and enhance the production of collagen to prevent the skin from sagging. Get ready to enter the world of Vitamin C.
History of Vitamin C and its Traditional Uses
The need for Vitamin C was clear much before it was discovered. Several people across the world were suffering from the deficiency of Vitamin C. Health issues such as malnutrition, bleeding gums, gradually healing wounds, etc., became common.
As the shortage of Vitamin C became more and more prominent, it led to the birth of a serious disease known as scurvy. Unavailability of fresh food and water for sailors was found to be the primary reason behind scurvy. The life-threatening disease resulted in several deaths as sailors could not receive immediate medical attention because of their long traveling periods in the sea. It was scurvy that pushed physicians to dive deep into the world of nutrients. Finally, in 1753, the nutritional deficiency was linked to scurvy by the British Medical Community. After the discovery of the connection between scurvy, and nutritional deficiencies, William Stark, a young British physician started performing nutrition-based experiments on himself in 1769.
For straight 31 says, Stark survived only on water and bread. Then he slowly started introducing more foods to his diet. Even though he had enough meat in his diet, the quantity of fruits and vegetables was very limited. Stark died 7 months later but his experiments paved the way for fellow physicians to discover what was lacking in diets that were leading to scurvy.
James Lind, a Scottish physician, recommended the use of citrus fruits and lemon juice for sailors and surprisingly the number of scurvy cases on naval vessels dropped. At this stage, though the benefits of citrus fruits and lemon juice had been established, none of the scientists could discover the root cause behind it – Vitamin C, an important ascorbic acid. Some years later, Albert Szent-Gyorgi, a Hungarian researcher, discovered Vitamin C.
Vitamin C Fast Facts – All You Need to Know
Let’s look at some interesting facts about Vitamin C.
Vitamin C was discovered almost 250 years ago.
- Vitamin C is also known as ascorbic acid.
- Vitamin C is an essential nutrient for collagen production which is vital for the growth of healthy skin, bones, and cartilages.
- Vitamin C works as a powerful antioxidant to prevent any kind of cellular damage in the body.
- Vitamin C helps in the absorption of iron from food.
- Vitamin C helps in reducing cardiovascular damage by reducing blood cholesterol levels and lowering blood pressure.
- The best dietary sources of Vitamin C are red bell peppers, yellow bell peppers, kiwi, oranges, lemon, broccoli, strawberries, guava, papaya, and kale.
- Smoking results in higher excretion of Vitamin C from the body.
- People suffering from kidney diseases should avoid Vitamin C.
- Overconsumption of Vitamin C can lead to painful stomach cramps and diarrhea.
- The first animals used for Vitamin C experiments were guinea pigs since they cannot produce their own Vitamin C.
- Vitamin C helps a great deal in making your skin firm.
Health and Beauty Benefits of Vitamin C
Vitamin C is abundantly available, and there’s no reason to be deficient in Vitamin C. From a stuffy nose to a sudden bout of fever, Vitamin C can help you get rid of various health problems. Let’s look at some health benefits of Vitamin C.
Benefits of Vitamin C for your health
- Improvement of heart health – Higher levels of plasma in Vitamin C can greatly reduce the risk of heart diseases. Another study has also revealed that a vegetarian diet rich in Vitamin C can decrease blood cholesterol levels by 1%. This further reduces the risk of a heart attack by 2%.
- Strengthening of immunity – Vitamin C deficiency can make you vulnerable to pathogen attacks. Moreover, Vitamin C also fights off allergies and infections.
- Prevention of cancer – Research shows that high Vitamin C doses can decrease the growth rate of liver, prostate, colon, and several other types of cancer cells. A report by the Cornell University also shows that Vitamin C can reduce the growth rate of colorectal cancer.
- Treatment of Osteoarthritis – Adequate doses of Vitamin C can help you maintain healthy joints and prevent inflammatory arthritis. Research also shows that people with low Vitamin C levels in the body are three times more susceptible to arthritis.
- Enhancement of Eye Health – Research shows that optimum level of Vitamin C along with other essential nutrients can prevent age-related visual acuity loss and macular degeneration. It also shields the lens tissue in the eyes against molecular damage caused by free radicals.
- Prevention of high blood pressure during pregnancy (Preeclampsia) – An American study shows that Vitamin C helps in maintaining normal blood pressure during pregnancy.
Apart from the health benefits mentioned above, Vitamin C also helps in preventing scurvy, bleeding of the gums, allergies, and viral infections. Along with providing ample health benefits, Vitamin C also comes with some incredible benefits for your skin.
It is a water-soluble vitamin that helps in keeping your skin healthy, protects your skin against free radical damage, stimulates collagen products, quickly heals wounds, and much more.
5 Skin Benefits of Vitamin C
Stimulation of collagen production
Vitamin C is vital to the production of hydroxylysine and hydroxyproline, two chemicals that play a significant role in the binding of molecules to produce collagen. So, Vitamin C is important to produce collagen that keeps your skin firm, wrinkle-free and prevents sagging.
Correction of hyperpigmentation and dark spots
Depending on the daily exposure of your skin to the UV rays of the sun, your skin type, and your ethnicity, you might have more dark spots than your friends. Thought it is not something to worry about and a normal sign of aging, Vitamin C can help a great deal in diminishing dark spots or eliminating them altogether. So, Vitamin C helps in reducing brown spots by tackling free radicals.
Protection against free radicals
Increased exposure of the skin to harmful UV rays can damage your skin. Even though a sunscreen is good enough for protecting your skin and adding a dose of Vitamin C can add an extra protection layer. When skin cells are attacked by the sun and oxidative stress, free radicals enter the blood vessels and skin surrounding the area. These charged molecules damage the nearby tissues and lead to the increased breakdown of collagen. Vitamin C cages the free radicals and halts breakdown due to oxidative stress.
Reduction of undereye dark circles
Vitamin C evens the skin tone and minimizes the appearance of dark circles under the eyes. So, if you have tired eyes, don’t try to conceal the dark circle. Instead, use Vitamin C serums to fix them.
Protection against discoloration of the skin
Vitamin C guards the DNA against photochemical breakdown that can lead to skin discoloration, the formation of a tumor, and other serious skin-related problems such as skin cancer. It also slows down the formation of pyrimidine dimers that is the leading cause of melanoma. Vitamin C also helps in tackling age spots and skin freckles.
What are the types of Vitamin C and which one is most useful for your skin?
Since Ascorbic acid is easily bioavailable, it is used in skin care products and supplements. It naturally occurs in foods such as broccoli and oranges.
Other types of Vitamin C are:
- Calcium ascorbate
- Sodium ascorbate
- Ascorbic acid with bioflavonoids
- Combination Vitamin C forms
Studies have revealed that there’s a thin line of difference between the absorption rates of different types of Vitamin C. So, no matter which type you choose, the absorption will be equally quick. Since ascorbic acid is readily available and cost-effective it is widely used in skin care products and supplements.
What is the best way to use Vitamin C on your skin?
The best way to use Vitamin C on your skin is in the form of a serum. Ascorbic acid containing serums are useful for reducing excess pigmentation, protecting your skin against sun damage, eliminating dark circle, evening out your skin tone, improving your skin texture, and enhancing collagen production.
When purchasing a Vitamin C serum, look for serums that contain a combination of Vitamin C and powerful antioxidants such as Alpha Lipoid Acid, Vitamin E, or Ferulic Acid. Also, since Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin and oxidizes rapidly on exposure to air, make sure you store the serum in a dark place.
Is there a specific order in which Vitamin C should be applied?
Once you’re through with the cleansing process, allow your skin to dry and then gently apply the Vitamin C serum on your face and neck. Once you’ve applied the serum, you can apply moisturizer to seal the serum layer. If the purpose of using the Vitamin C serum is protection from the sun, then we recommend using the serum in the day. However, if the purpose of using Vitamin C serum is restoration of the skin and prevention of premature skin-aging, then we recommend using the serum at night. Also, make sure you apply the serum before applying makeup.
Is there an ingredient that should never be used with Vitamin C?
Retinol should not be used with Vitamin C. Retinol is absorbed at a pH of 5.5 to 6, while Vitamin C is absorbed at a pH of 3.5 or below. The efficiency of both the ingredients reduces when they’re used together.