If you’ve checked ingredients in skin care products within the last two decades, you probably know that vitamin C is in the spotlight when it comes to taking years off your skin. Is this hype or reality? Read on to find out.
Vitamin C in research
According to a study published by the American Journal for Clinical Nutrition, women with the highest intake of dietary vitamin C had healthier skin. The scientists found that consuming a diet naturally rich in vitamin C reduces skin dryness and makes wrinkles less noticeable.
‘C’ how the vitamin works
Most of us know vitamin C for its ability to strengthen the immune system. However, this vitamin also plays a crucial role in keeping the skin healthy and resilient thanks to its unique characteristics as outlined below.
1. Antioxidant properties
Are you trying to get rid of age spots? Forget chemical peels and lasers – instead, make sure your diet is providing you with adequate vitamin C. Most age spots occur because of over-exposure to the sun. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that offers protection to skin cells during exposure to sunlight. It appears that it may make skin cells more resistant to harsh external conditions thus helping to diminish the effects of sunburn.
Vitamin C may even reverse and slow down skin damage following sun exposure by:
- Counteracting the effects of free radicals
- Making the skin’s protective lipid barrier less vulnerable to oxidation
- Limiting UV-related DNA damage
- Reducing inflammation
- Coordinating communication between skin cells to promote cell survival
Scientists have also found that after exposure to sunlight, keratinocytes (the major cell type of the outer layer of skin) contain more vitamin C transport proteins. What this implies is that regular and sufficient consumption of vitamin C rich foods can replenish your skin’s level of natural anti-ageing ‘warriors’. This will help your skin fight against discolouration and fine lines caused by environmental hazards.
2. Synthesis of collagen
Vitamin C is also involved in the production of collagen, a fibrous protein which makes up the skin and ensures its elasticity and stability. As we age, our skin’s ability to produce collagen starts declining – that’s when fine lines become more evident. Exposure to sunlight can also create these lines by causing collagen breakdown.
An adequate intake of dietary vitamin C can improve your skin’s innate ability to produce collagen and can also stabilise the collagen’s mRNA– this will help protect your skin against damage and neutralise wrinkle formation.
3. Protective effects
It seems that vitamin C may help reduce water loss from the skin – this can reduce skin dryness and, as such, delay skin ageing.
Your Vitamin C allies
The best sources of this vitamin include:
- Fruits – kiwis; citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruits, tangerines; strawberries; guavas.
- Vegetables – especially the dark green ones like spinach, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, watercress and bell peppers.
- Fresh herbs – parsley, thyme, basil, cilantro and chives.
Tips to maximise your intake of vitamin C:
- Make sure your diet is rich in fruits and veggies – the key here is to consume a varied and colourful diet every day.
- Consume these vitamin C rich foods as soon as you purchase them to reduce oxidation of the vitamin.
- Eat these plant foods raw if possible or at least very slightly cooked – vitamin C is very sensitive to heat.
As you can see there’s many benefits to including vitamin C into your diet. Remember that a healthy diet, regular exercise and plenty of water will all work towards you having youthful and glowing skin.
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