Vitamin C 101: Everything You Need to Know
- Written By:Julia McVeigh
Although newly-minted wellness darlings arrive each season (hello, CBD!), vitamin C has reliably maintained its status as a go-to health-enhancing ingredient for years. Understandably so, too. Vitamin C’s benefits are manifold, and they can be unlocked from both the ingestion of vitamin C-containing foods as well as via the topical application of vitamin C-based skincare products.
Ahead, we’re breaking down the A, B and Cs of vitamin C—and we’re tapping our friends Dr. Sejal Shah, a board-certified dermatologist practicing at SmarterSkin Dermatology, and Amy Shapiro, MS, RD, CDN and Founder of New York City–based Real Nutrition, to help. Read on!
WHAT IS VITAMIN C?
Found in some foods, vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin (also known as L-ascorbic acid). It plays a critical role in a number of processes in the body, including the biosynthesis of collagen. As an antioxidant, vitamin C helps to limit the damaging effects of free radicals within the body. In this sense, vitamin C is a particularly attractive skincare ingredient, as it helps to both plump the complexion and can reduce the signs of early aging.
VITAMIN C AND SKINCARE
Dr. Shah argues that the benefits of vitamin C are innumerable, suggesting that all skin types would benefit from its topical application. She elaborates, “Vitamin C is an antioxidant that has a number of proven benefits for the skin, such as anti-aging, brightening the complexion and evening out one’s skin tone. As an antioxidant, it neutralizes free radicals generated from UV radiation, pollutants and other sources.” She continues, “Additionally, vitamin C stimulates collagen synthesis, inhibits melanin synthesis, and has anti-inflammatory activity.” Translation: This is a do-it-all beauty ingredient.
VITAMIN C AND HOLISTIC HEALTH
Sure, we all want a glowing complexion, but consuming vitamin C goes way beyond #skingoals. Shapiro points out the staggering holistic benefits of vitamin C, noting, “It may prevent heart disease, stroke and certain cancers, as it is a powerful antioxidant; it helps to absorb non-heme iron from plant sources more efficiently; and it helps to treat high blood pressure, as it has a slight diuretic effect.” She then summarizes, “Consuming vitamin C will generally help to boost overall immunity and can even assist with things like wound healing.”
WHERE TO FIND VITAMIN C
While the classic sources of vitamin C are usually citrus fruits, Shapiro suggests noshing on a wide array of plants in order to increase your vitamin C intake. Some of her favorites include red pepper, kiwi, strawberries, papaya, chili peppers, kohlrabi, pineapple, broccoli and cauliflower. As for skincare products, Dr. Shah recommends the following: Jan Marinin C-Esta, Revision Skincare Vitamin C Lotion 30 and La Roche Posay Redermic C Vitamin C Lotion.
Taking notes? We are, too—because if the recipe is for radiant health, then we’ve got a killer grocery list at the ready.