Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)
| Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, meaning that your body doesn't store it. You get what we need, instead, from food. You need vitamin C for the growth and repair of tissues in all parts of your body. It helps the body make collagen, an important protein in skin, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels. Vitamin C is essential for healing wounds, and for repairing and maintaining bones and teeth.|
Vitamin C is an antioxidant, along with vitamin E, beta-carotene, and many other plant-based nutrients. Antioxidants block some of the damage caused by free radicals, which occur naturally when our bodies transform food into energy. The build-up of free radicals over time may be largely responsible for the aging process and can contribute to the development of health conditions such as cancer, heart disease, and arthritis.
Some evidence suggests that many people may be mildly deficient in vitamin C, although serious deficiencies are rare in industrialized countries. Smoking cigarettes lowers the amount of vitamin C in the body, so smokers are more at risk of deficiency. Signs of vitamin deficiency include dry and splitting hair; gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and bleeding gums; rough, dry, scaly skin; decreased wound-healing rate, easy bruising; nosebleeds; and a decreased ability to ward off infection. A severe form of vitamin C deficiency is known as scurvy.
Vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid) is one of the relatively few topical agents whose effectiveness against wrinkles and fine lines is backed by a fair amount of reliable scientific evidence. Potentially, vitamin C can benefit skin in two important ways. Firstly, vitamin C is essential for the synthesis of collagen, a key structural protein of the skin. Adding vitamin C to a culture of skin cells (fibroblasts) dramatically increases the synthesis of collagen. Secondly, vitamin C is an antioxidant and can help reduce skin damage caused by free radicals. So, when vitamin C is properly delivered into skin cells, there is a good chance to reduce wrinkles and improve skin texture.
Unfortunately, the practical use of vitamin C in skin care presents some difficulties due to its lack of stability. When exposed to air, vitamin C solution undergoes oxidation and becomes not only ineffective but also potentially harmful (oxidized vitamin C may increase the formation of free radicals).
Some skin care companies offer stabilized vitamin C products, which oxidize less rapidly. However, these products are usually very expensive (especially the ones concentrated enough to be effective) and may still be excessively oxidized by the time you use them. In addition, only highly concentrated preparations (10% or more) deliver enough vitamin C to the cells to be topically effective.
Is it possible to get the skin benefits of vitamin C at reasonable cost and without the risk of using a degraded product? Yes --HIGH ALTITUDE™ Organic Skin Care line is using air-tight containers with our products that contain active Vitamin C and its derivatives, as well as other fast oxidizing ingredients, wich are present in our products in a sufficient % content to be highly effective.
To improve the practicability of vitamin C in skin care, scientists have been looking for its relatives with comparable or superior skin benefits. An ideal vitamin C derivative should be able to easily penetrate into skin cells and release L-ascorbic acid in amounts sufficient to boost collagen synthesis. Also, it should be more stable and less irritating than vitamin C. So far, two compounds have found their way into the broad skin care market: ascorbyl palmitate and magnesium ascorbyl phosphate. A few other highly promising derivatives are on the horizon.
Ascorbyl palmitate is the most widely used fat-soluble derivative of vitamin C in skin care. It is nonirritating and more stable than vitamin C. Furthermore, ascorbyl palmitate is a fat-soluble antioxidant and is at least as effective as vitamin E in protecting the skin from lipid peroxidation (a key type of free radical damage in the skin). Unfortunately, it appears that the concentrations of ascorbyl palmitate achievable in skin care formulas do not boost collagen synthesis as much as vitamin C.
Numerous skin care products containing ascorbyl palmitate are commercially available. When buying products with ascorbyl palmitate (or other vitamin C-derived skin care for that matter), it is best to choose colorless or white formulation. That way you can spot the advanced stages of oxidation of the active ingredient by the emergence of a yellowish tint. Unfortunately, the lack of tint does not guarantee complete lack of oxidation because the early oxidation products are colorless.
Magnesuim ascorbyl phosphate
Magnesuim ascorbyl phosphate is a water-soluble derivative of vitamin C rapidly gaining popularity in skin care. It is nonirritating and more stable than vitamin C. Most importantly, magnesuim ascorbyl phosphate appears to have the same potential as vitamin C to boost skin collagen synthesis but is effective in significantly lower concentrations. Overall, magnesuim ascorbyl phosphate appears to be a better choice than vitamin C for people with sensitive skin and those wishing to avoid any concomitant exfoliating effects. (Most vitamin C formulas are highly acidic and therefore produce exfoliation.)
Skin care products with magnesuim ascorbyl phosphate are available and their number is growing. Be careful though. Many products contain less than effective concentration and fail to boost collagen synthesis. Also, even though magnesuim ascorbyl phosphate is several times more stable than vitamin C, it still gradually degrades when exposed to light and air. Hence freshness and proper storage are important.
Next generation of vitamin C derivatives
Most vitamin C derivatives on the market, including ascorbyl palmitate and magnesuim ascorbyl phosphate, consist of the ascorbic acid fragment (ascorbyl) and a fragment of another acid (e.g. palmitate or phosphate). Recent research indicates that new vitamin C derivatives consisting of multiple chemical fragments bound to a single ascorbic acid fragment may work even better. These new derivatives are more stable compared to both vitamin C and older derivatives. Furthermore, some of these newcomers (particularly the so-called tetrasubstituted lipophilic ascorbates) also appear to be more powerful boosters of collagen synthesis.
While unmodified vitamin C remains an important skin care ingredient, its derivatives may do a better job in some situations. They tend to be more stable, more affordable and less irritating. Furthermore, some of the derivatives may even be as effective in boosting skin collagen synthesis. On the other hand, unmodified vitamin C may be a better choice if you want to stimulate collagen synthesis and exfoliate at the same time. (High potency vitamin C products are highly acidic and therefore have exfoliating effect.)
Some excellent sources of vitamin C are oranges, green peppers, watermelon, papaya, grapefruit, cantaloupe, strawberries, kiwi, mango, broccoli, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, and citrus juices or juices fortified with vitamin C. Raw and cooked leafy greens (turnip greens, spinach), red and green peppers, canned and fresh tomatoes, potatoes, winter squash, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, and pineapple are also rich sources of vitamin C. Vitamin C is sensitive to light, air, and heat, so you'll get the most vitamin C if you eat fruits and vegetables raw or lightly cooked.
Disclaimer: The information presented
herein is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not
been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or
prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements,
it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.