Vitamin C is such an important nutrient for healthy skin. It’s pretty well known that it helps support the immune system… it’s one of the first vitamins we reach for when we feel that winter cold coming on. But as far as our skin is concerned it’s absolutely vital for collagen production and as a potent antioxidant.
But why is collagen important for healthy skin?
Collagen is a protein which forms the basis of our skin structure giving it its strength, resilience, hydration and elasticity. As such it plays a huge role in determining how well our skin functions. Unfortunately the breakdown of collagen leads to looser, less plump skin which we see as wrinkles… characteristic of aging.
This process of collagen breakdown happens naturally as we age, however it also occurs through photo damage (i.e. exposure to UV rays) and exposure to pollutants, such as cigarette smoke and pollution.
This is where vitamin C comes in.
Vitamin C is needed in order for us to make collagen. In fact it’s essential. And it’s also a potent antioxidant, able to deal with the oxidative stress caused by excessive UV and pollution exposure.
Those with eczema have been shown to have low levels of antioxidant vitamins, including vitamin C
Skin, under normal conditions, has pretty high levels of vitamin C in it already. However when exposed to UV light vitamin C levels decrease, and with repeated exposure levels can become depleted. But to counter this, UV light also stimulates us to make more of the proteins that help our cells take in more vitamin C from the bloodstream. How incredible is the human body?!
To support our body we need to make sure we have a steady supply of vitamin C in the bloodstream. The best way to do this is through eating plants. They are packed full of vitamin C, and if we are eating a well-balanced diet then we can get what we need without having to leg it to the shops to get a supplement.
In fact, supplements may just be wasted anyway. Once our bloodstream is fully saturated with vitamin C, our skin levels also plateau and any extra is simply removed when we wee. Therefore supplementation is only likely to support skin levels of vitamin C when blood levels are low.
So before you rush to the shops to get a vitamin C supplement, take a look at your diet and see how else you can get this essential nutrient through the foods that you eat. Vitamin C, as with most supplements, interacts with some medications. So if you think you may be falling short then seek advice from a BANT registered Nutritional Therapist or Dietician.