Vitamin C: Benefits and What you Need to Know



It is difficult to get excited by Vitamin C. It has been around for too long to be fashionable and too well known to pique one’s interest.

Hang on for a sec.

Benefits of Vitamin C

Vitamin C is one of the few antioxidants which has actually been proven to work. It is naturally occurring and as we all know, is found abundantly in citrus fruits.

The reason why it is important to take Vitamin C orally and apply it topically is that, unlike most plants and animals, we do not have the enzymes necessary to synthesize Vitamin C.

Topically applied Vitamin C has 4 beneficial effects on our skin:

1. It is a potent antioxidant, neutralizing harmful free radicals in our skin and protecting it from oxidative damage.

2. It is an essential component of the collagen synthesis pathway. Collagen improves aging skin, fine lines, and wrinkles.

3. It provides photoprotection for the skin, acting synergistically with sunblock to protect our skin from harmful UV rays.

4. It has anti-inflamatory effects. Thus, it is beneficial in burns, and even acne.

Only L – ascorbic acid please!

Unfortunately, pure vitamin C, or L-ascorbic acid, is inherently very unstable. Technological advances have allowed formulations of L-ascorbic acid, but these are expensive.

Manufacturers have looked to using other derivatives of Vitamin C, such as Ascorbyl Glucoside, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, etc. Unfortunately, experts are still divided in opinion as to whether these derivatives can be effectively converted to its active relative, L-Ascorbic Acid.

Read the fine print

Do not believe every product which claims to have “Vitamin C”. Here are some things to look out for:

1) The derivative compound of Vitamin C is important. To date, pure Vitamin C, or L-ascorbic acid, remains the only form of vitamin C which has consistently shown to exert beneficial effects when applied topically.

2) The concentration is important. L-ascorbic acid should be present in at least 5% concentrations in order to work effectively. Products with other Vitamin C derivatives require even higher concentrations to work.

3) No point paying exorbitant prices for Vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid) above 20% concentration. Studies show that no additional absorption occurs above 20%.

4) When combined with Vitamin E, Vitamin C confers additional photoprotective effects. Look out for products which contain both products.

Oral intake is not enough

Finally, little of the Vitamin C ingested actually make it to our skin, so topical application is still important. However, ingested vitamin C does have other beneficial effects.. so, pick up an orange and nibble away!