One of the most compelling reasons to recommend vitamin C is for skin health and chronic wound healing. There is an association between vitamin C deficiency and the loss of important skin functions. Poor wound healing is associated with decreased collagen formation, thinning of the stratum corneum, and subcutaneous bleeding due to fragility and loss of connective tissue.1
Several reports have indicated that vitamin C levels are lower in aged or photodamaged skin. The question is which came first, the chicken or the egg; the aged and damaged skin, or the lower vitamin C levels. Either way, research shows the people who respond to vitamin c supplementation with improved wound healing are those who have low levels in their skin.2 Healthy, well-nourished individuals do not usually have accelerated wound healing with vitamin c supplements.
Smokers in particular have depleted vitamin C levels compared with nonsmokers. These levels could be improved by smoking cessation or vitamin C supplementation, which results in improved wound healing.3
Sometimes, people have low vitamin C levels in their skin from poor diets. Good skin health is positively associated with fruit and vegetable intake in a number of well-executed intervention studies. Vitamin C status is closely aligned with fruit and vegetable intake.4
There are other ways vitamin C keeps the skin healthy and youthful-looking. It reduces oxidative damage from the sun and/or toxin exposures, like smoking. It also stimulates collagen and elastin formation, and it reduces the activity of melanocytes, which are the cells that produce pigment in our skin. Therefore, vitamin C is considered by some as a skin lightener. It is being studied in melasma and age spots.5
We all want to look good, and taking oral vitamin C can aid in that, but from a clinical perspective, healthy skin means a healthy body. Healthy skin means quick wound healing. High vitamin C levels in the skin greatly assist wound healing and minimize raised scar formation. This has been demonstrated in numerous clinical studies in humans and animals.1
- Pullar JM, Carr AC, Vissers MCM. The Roles of Vitamin C in Skin Health. Nutrients. 2017;9(8):866. Published 2017 Aug 12. doi:10.3390/nu9080866
- Duarte TL, Cooke MS, Jones GD. GeneexpressionproﬁlingrevealsnewprotectiverolesforvitaminCin human skin cells. Free Radic. Biol. Med. 2009, 46, 78–87.
- Sorensen LT, Toft BG, Rygaard J, et al. Effect of smoking, smoking cessation, and nicotine patch on wound dimension, vitamin C, and systemic markers of collagen metabolism. Surgery 2010, 148, 982–990.
- Pezdirc K, Hutchesson M, Whitehead R, et al. Can dietary intake inﬂuence perception of and measured appearance? A systematic review. Nutr. Res. 2015, 35, 175–197
- Bertuccelli G, Zerbinati N, Marcellino M, et al. Effect of a quality-controlled fermented nutraceutical on skin aging markers: An antioxidant-control, double-blind study. Exp. Ther. Med. 2016, 11, 909–916.