Vitamin C otherwise known as L-ascorbic acid is a water-soluble vitamin required for multiple biological functions. It cannot be stored in the body except in insignificant amounts. Therefore, it’s essential that it be consumed regularly. The name “ascorbic” is derived from ascorbutic (scorbutus: scurvy). This disease was described by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans during the crusades in the thirteenth century. Its deficiency is responsible for scurvy. It is characterized by altered functions of the connective tissue, such as perifollicular hemorrhages and defective healing.

Vitamin C is found in many foods, particularly fruit and vegetables. I bet most people just think of citrus fruits when it comes to Vitamin C, but did you know that bell peppers, strawberries, kiwis and papaya actually contain more Vitamin C than citrus fruits like oranges. Isn't it?

The daily serving is recommended to be between 65 to 90 milligrams.

One of the most compelling arguments for the vital role of Vitamin C in skin health is the association between Vitamin C deficiency and the loss of a number of important skin functions. In particular, poor wound healing (associated with collagen formation), thickening of the stratum corneum and subcutaneous bleeding (due to fragility and loss of connective tissue morphology) are extreme and rapid in onset in Vitamin-C-deficient individuals.

The primary function of the skin is to act as a barrier against the damages from the environment, and its unique structure reflects this. The skin is composed of two layers: the epidermal outer layer is highly cellular and provides the barrier function, and the inner dermal layer ensures strength and elasticity and gives nutritional support to the epidermis. Normal skin contains high concentrations of Vitamin C, which supports important and well-known functions, stimulating collagen synthesis and assisting in antioxidant protection against UV-induced photodamage. Like the rest of the human body, the skin is subject to changes caused by the process of natural aging. All skin layers show age-related changes in structure and functional capacity and, as occurs in other body systems, this may result in increased susceptibility to a variety of disorders and diseases, such as the development of dermatoses and skin cancer. As well as this, changes in the appearance of the skin are often the first visible signs of aging and this can have implications for our emotional and mental wellbeing.

When it comes to Vitamin C in skin care products, there are several advantages, for the skin. The first is the overall brightening of the skin and helping with lightening acne marks, sunspots, and hyperpigmentation. Vitamin C helps these skin conditions by interacting with the copper ions at the tyrosinase level of the skin and it inhibits its production, which means less melanin, which in turn means less hyperpigmentation. Next is building collagen and elastin. As I mentioned, our body uses Vitamin C to produce collagen and it's what we associate with youthful, glowing, and smooth skin. Applying a Vitamin C serum may boost collagen production, resulting in an overall tightening effect. Another one of the main benefits of Vitamin C is to fight free radicals. Free radical is a type of unstable molecule that is made during normal cell metabolism. However, there are many environmental factors that can cause an excess of free radicals such us: pollution, radiation, cigarette smoke, stress, lack of exercise, and sleep. Eventually, they can build up in cells and cause damage. Free radicals can speed up the aging of our skin. Vitamin C is known as an antioxidant that is suggested to decrease oxidative damage such as those found in environmental pollutants and after exposure to ultraviolet radiation. The last major benefit is that there is a synergy that happens when you use Vitamin C with other products, like Vitamin E, ferulic acid as well arbutin. Vitamin E helps nourish and protect skin from damage caused by free radicals. Ferulic acid is also known for its UV protection properties, while arbutin reduces uneven skin tone.

When it comes to choosing what to buy, remember our skin doesn't necessarily absorb more Vitamin C just because a product has a higher concentration of it. It really comes down to the combination of concentration, potency, and the agent itself, whether that's a water or oil-based product. The most expensive products aren't necessarily the best.

Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is a member of the coronaviridae family. By October 2021 more than four million lives have been sick with this disease. Vitamin C has kind of taken on an interesting social media presence during this outbreak. We see a lot of messages on Facebook, Twitter, promoting Vitamin C as being a cure for the coronavirus. As we already know, Vitamin C is critical for a well-functioning immune system and plays a vital role in promoting health and nutritional wellbeing. So, will eating an orange stop us from getting Covid-19? Of course not! But it does help our immune system. According to WHO, there is still no evidence to prove that consuming a high amount of Vitamin C is effective against Covid-19.

Getting older is inevitable. We may live longer, but we cannot age any slower. Like a bottle of wine; you can get better with age with smart choices along the way. Aging is linked to changes that can make you prone to deficiency in Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, Vitamin K, and Vitamin E.

Vitamin D is a steroid hormone that controls over a thousand different physiological processes inside your body. The primary source of Vitamin D is UVB radiation. Our skin can make Vitamin D as a result of exposure to UVB radiation. As we age our body becomes less efficient in producing Vitamin D. Vitamin D is a unique nutrient because your body can get enough of it from a healthy diet and exposure to the sun. Foods with a high Vitamin D content include cheese, egg yolks, and fatty fishes (salmon, mackerel, and tuna). Vitamin D helps our bodies to absorb calcium downright essential for healthy bone mass and strength. Oral Vitamin D supplementation reduces the risk of hip fracture and falls. Moreover, it improves muscle strength, function, and balance.

Vitamin B12 (aka cobalamin) is a key nutrient that our body needs for the development and function of the central nervous system as well as for the production of healthy red blood cells. It is abundant in liver, meat, eggs, and milk, but not in plant products. In nursing homes, older people are most likely to be deficient in Vitamin B12 because their diet is limited. Depression, dementia, and mental impairment are often associated with a deficiency of B12. Maintaining adequate Vitamin B12 levels may decrease the risk of osteoporosis, prevent the risk of age-related macular degeneration, improve our mood, and prevent brain atrophy.

Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin. It has been suggested to play a protective role in aging and age-related diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, osteoarthritis, and osteoporosis. Those diseases have been associated with an increased risk of mobility disability and frailty in the older population. There are two main types of Vitamin K: K1 is found mostly in dark green vegetables like kale, broccoli, spinach, and Brussels sprouts. K2 is found in animal products such as beef liver, chicken, egg yolks, and hard cheeses. This nutrient helps maintain strong healthy bones in older adults, improves various cognitive functions, including memory storage and reasoning.

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin with several forms, but alpha-tocopherol is the only form that is used by our bodies. Its main role is to act as an antioxidant. Vitamin E, which is in plants oils such as sunflower and safflower oil, and other foods including nuts (almonds, peanuts, and hazelnuts), seeds (sunflower seeds), and greens (spinach and broccoli), helps protect us from free radicals that can damage our cells. It is also important to cardiovascular health, specifically by maintaining wide blood vessels and preventing clotting.

Aging a very complex biological process that is influenced by several factors, and nutritional intervention has been shown to play a key role in supporting people's health as they age. With the help of specific vitamins and antioxidants, you can't turn back the clock but you can wind it up again.

(Article by: Dr. Thiago Freire and Kulkov Ilona)