Vitamin C and skin

We are always being told that vitamin C is good for your health, but what direct affect does Vitamin C have on maintaining healthily looking skin?

Skin damage develops over time and can be caused by a number of different factors including exposure to UV radiation, poor diet, mental and physical stress, increased alcohol intake and smoking as well as environmental and chemical pollutants. UV radiation is the biggest cause of skin damage, so don’t forget to cover up or use a high factor sunscreen on those sunny days outdoors.

Vitamin C is known to counter the harmful free radicals which are associated with premature skin ageing as well as helping to remove the DNA damage free radicals form if they pass the cell’s defences. Vitamin C also plays an essential role in collagen synthesis and without sufficient levels of vitamin C within the body diseases such as scurvy can take hold.

Scurvy occurs when the collagen that is synthesized is defective due to the lack of vitamin C. The collagen that is produced has weak connective tissues and can lead to skin discolouration, wounds that don’t heal, bleeding/swollen gums, teeth loss, fatigue, limb pain – particularly in the legs and ultimately death if left untreated. Fortunately, Scurvy can be easily cured with as little as 10mg of vitamin C a day, so it is a disease that is very rarely found in developed countries in modern times.

Collagen synthesis is a complex process which we won’t explore in detail here, basically, vitamin C is required for the hydroxylation of proline and lysine residues of Protocollagen. The resulting Hydroxyproline and Hydroxylysine amino acids are essential for the cross-linking, strength and stability of the collagen.

Keep skin looking healthy

Unfortunately, as we age our skin starts to take on that lived in look, here are some things that you can do to maintain healthy looking skin.

  1. Ensure there are adequate levels of vitamin C within the body.
  2. Avoid exposure to UV radiation, cover up or use a high quality high factor sunscreen (check the expiration date on the bottle, do not use if past the expiration date or if the product shows any obvious changes in colour or consistency).
  3. Exfoliate your skin twice a week.
  4. Stay Hydrated.
  5. Maintain a healthy diet.
  6. Limit/Avoid alcohol and tobacco use.


Dermatology Research and Practice Volume 2012

Study reveals new role of vitamin C in skin protection

Essentials of Bio Chemistry by Pankaja Naik 2012

Further reading:

What Causes Skin Ageing?

Understanding Collagen and Your Skin’s Health