Vitamin C has always had an excellent reputation for strengthening the immune system. How many times have you been told to eat citrus fruits and drink lots of orange juice during cold season? It is one of the most commonly recommend supplements, and is found in many forms: liquids, capsules, chewable tablets, powders that turn into fizzy drinks (I like Emergen-C), etc.

Does Vitamin C really live up to its reputation?

Citrus fruits are great sources of Vitamin C.

Absolutely. When taken internally from food sources or from high quality, bioavailable supplements, it has numerous benefits for the entire body.

  • It increases the white blood cell count. White blood cells, or leukocytes, are the body?s strongest armor against invaders.
  • It inhibits the formation of an inflammatory chemical called arachidonic acid. This chemical has been linked to psoriasis, and also can accelerate the aging process of the skin.
  • It is an antioxidant that combats and neutralizes free radicals in the body.
  • It helps maintain metabolism by assisting in the conversion of fat to energy.
  • It is required for collagen production. Collagen is found in the entire body. It is responsible for keeping our muscles, bones, joints, and tissue intact and functioning properly. Collagen also comprises 70% of the dermis, which is the live layer of the skin. Collagen depletion is responsible for many of the visible signs of aging.
  • It helps the brain create neurotransmitters that keep us thinking and communicating clearly.
  • Got Scars?? Vitamin C also helps heal wounds and minimize and reduce scarring.

Vitamin C is a skin care super-ingredient.

It is important to take Vitamin C internally, as well as apply it externally to maximize the benefits. The important thing to know about topical Vitamin C, however, is that it needs to be in the correct form to be able to be absorbed into the skin and penetrate into the cells at those deeper layers.

The most common form of Vitamin C comes in the form of L-ascorbic acid. This form is very beneficial to the body when taken internally; however, there are a few reasons why it is not best form for topical application.

  • It is water soluble, and the skin?s natural barrier is largely composed of lipids (oils). Water soluble ingredients cannot penetrate a barrier layer unless they are specially formulated to do so.
  • It is very acidic, which can inflame and irritate the skin.
  • It breaks down and oxidizes quickly, which means it loses its effectiveness very quickly.

Vitamin C Ester (ascorbyl palmitate), however, is the perfect form of Vitamin C for topical application. It is oil soluble which means it can penetrate the skin?s barrier layer; it is not acidic, which means it is non-irritant and actually has an anti-inflammatory effect; and it does not break down or oxidize quickly, so its benefits last much longer than L-ascorbic acid.

According to the bestselling book The Wrinkle Cure*, by Nicholas Perricone, MD, Vitamin C Ester has been known to reduce irritation and inflammation, and treat conditions such as sunburn and psoriasis. It also stimulates growth of the cells that form collagen and elastin in the skin. This is crucial for any anti-aging regimen, because with regular use, it will help minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and give sagging skin a firmer, more toned look.

I highly recommend integrating Vitamin C into your lifestyle. Eat lots of foods that naturally contain L-ascorbic acid, such as citrus, pineapples, kiwis, and strawberries. Take high quality supplements of both Vitamin C Ester and L-ascorbic acid.?

Choose skin care products that contain high concentrations of Vitamin C Ester (look for it in the first five ingredients on the label), NOT L-ascorbic acid. I really think you will see a difference in your skin and experience an improvement in how you feel.

*Source: Perricone MD, Nicholas. The Wrinkle Cure. New York, NY: Warner Books, 2000.

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