In the cold winter months, it’s easy to let our appearance become lacklustre and we lose that vitality of summer. Our lips become chapped in the cold, skin becomes dry from central heating, more colds, viruses and lack of sunshine means our faces become a bit grey and tired looking and suddenly all those vitamin packed salads and fresh vegetables are replaced by warming comfort foods. But there is an easy way to ensure that your skin is still at its best, even through the darkest winter months – having enough vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a healthy way to keep skin glowing. Foods rich in vitamin C that you can add into your diet include kale, broccoli, potatoes, oranges, strawberries, blueberries, red peppers and sprouts. You could also consider taking vitamin C supplements: Altrient C from Abundance and Health is one of the most powerful oral vitamin C supplements out there – it has 98% absorption and delivers the nutrient straight to your body’s cells. It has this high absorption because it is liposomal – tiny bubbles of healthy fats that surround and protect the vitamin C while transporting it straight to your bloodstream. Even in summer months, these supplements could be a good idea because the body cannot store vitamin C – the kidneys flush it out – so you do need to keep replenishing your body’s supply. However, taking an excess of 2,000 milligrams a day can make your skin itchy, so it’s advised you don’t take more than the prescribed amount.
So why is vitamin C so essential for skin? Here are five ways that this wonder vitamin can help keep skin healthy and beautiful.
- It slows the rate of free radicals
You will have heard about the importance of getting antioxidants into the body – many of the so-called ‘superfoods’ contain them. Antioxidants are essential in fighting off disease and infection as they hamper the oxidation of the body’s molecules – a process that produces free radicals and leads to cell damage. Some of these cells include collagen, which, when damaged, leads to dry skin and wrinkles. Vitamin C is an antioxidant and not only slows this process down, delaying the signs of aging, but a study from the University of Leicester in 2009 showed that it can also reverse DNA damage. This all means that vitamin C can help skin look younger and more moisturised.
- It makes skin firmer
Vitamin C is often used in moisturisers because it has the ability to make our skin firmer. This is because it not only helps protect the body’s cells from free radicals, but also helps the body produce collagen. Collagen is an essential protein that helps build up the body by providing strength, structure and elasticity. It is found in the bones, tendons, muscles and skin, though it depletes with age and exposure to UV rays and smoking. Some types of collagens are stronger than steel. In the skin, it forms a layer on which new skin cells can grow as well as replacing and restoring dead cells. Research has shown that taking supplement Altrient C can makes skin up to 61% firmer, particularly because it aids the formation of collagen.
- It helps form scar tissue
Once again, it’s vitamin C’s role in the production of collagen that helps with the formation of scar tissue. Collagen repairs and replaces damaged skin tissue, allowing blood vessels to group at the damaged area so that new skin and nerve cells can form. It is also essential in reducing the pigmentation caused by scarring and the size of the scar by producing connective tissue.
it is thought that vitamin C could even help to reduce inflammation and scarring caused by acne. The red inflammation that comes with acne occurs because the body releases inflammatory chemicals to combat bacteria. But the acne bacteria convey these chemicals to the skin instead so the skin inflames and the spots remain. Vitamin C helps the body to reduce its reaction to the perceived threat, thus reducing the inflammation. Then in comes the collagen to rebuild the damaged skin. The Acne Authority explains in more detail about how you can use vitamin C to combat problems with acne if it is affecting you.
- It could reduce the effects of sun damage
Vitamin C isn’t just a helpful nutrient in the winter. There has been research that suggests that vitamin C can help reduce sunburn caused by prolonged exposure to the sun and ultraviolet B radiation that leads to skin cancer. While no one is suggesting that taking supplements of the vitamin will protect you fully from a day out in the sun, there could be some interesting implications here, once more concrete evidence on the subject has been found.
- It helps prevent scurvy
When you think of scurvy, it may make you think of pirates and seem outdated, and while it may be rare, the condition can still affect certain groups of people. Scurvy is a deficiency in vitamin C and can affect people on fad diets or poor diets that cut out sources of vitamin C, those who don’t eat enough, such as people suffering eating disorders or the elderly, pregnant women and heavy smokers (as smoking reduces the body’s absorption of vitamin C). The symptoms of scurvy include skin that bruises easily and develops red or blue spots (bleeding under the skin), especially on the shins. The condition can easily be treated with adding vitamin C rich foods into your diet and taking supplements (although do talk to a GP if you think you may be suffering with scurvy). For more information about scurvy, look at the NHS’s page on the condition.