Vi­ta­min C and your skin

It’s es­sen­tial for build­ing stores of col­la­gen

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - YOU - DR. GER­ALD IMBER Ger­ald Imber, M.D., is an in­ter­na­tion­ally known plas­tic sur­geon and anti-ag­ing au­thor­ity. Learn more atYouthCor­ri­

If there is one skin-care prod­uct every­one should use, it is vi­ta­min C. L-ascor­bic acid is the naturally oc­cur­ring form of vi­ta­min C— a wa­ter sol­u­ble vi­ta­min es­sen­tial for skin in­tegrity.

The ab­sence of vi­ta­min C from the diet can re­sult in scurvy, a dis­ease in which the skin breaks down and wounds don’t heal. This was of­ten the case in long sea voy­ages and in­com­plete di­ets. To pre­vent scurvy, the Bri­tish navy stocked the fleet with limes, a citrus fruit rich in vi­ta­min C, and the dis­ease dis­ap­peared. That is how the term ‘limey’ came to sig­nify a Bri­tish sailor.

Vi­ta­min C is es­sen­tial for the build­ing and main­tain­ing of col­la­gen, which is the pri­mary sub­stance of the skin. When col­la­gen breaks down, wrin­kles and lax­ity re­sult. So it’s im­por­tant to get vi­ta­min C into the skin and main­tain a healthy col­la­gen layer in the der­mis.

Vi­ta­min C is well ab­sorbed orally. How­ever, the level of cir­cu­lat­ing vi­ta­min C is lim­ited by the phys­i­ol­ogy of the body, and it does not con­cen­trate in the skin in ther­a­peu­tic amounts.

If we want to get higher lev­els, we must put it di­rectly on the skin. It can be in­jected di­rectly into the skin, but no one wants dozens of lit­tle vi­ta­min C in­jec­tions. The other op­tion is to ap­ply it top­i­cally. The wa­ter sol­u­ble vi­ta­min C molecule doesn’t read­ily pen­e­trate the skin, so var­i­ous tricks should be em­ployed to help its pas­sage, in­clud­ing giv­ing it a free ride along with the fat sol­u­ble vi­ta­min E.

We also know that in ad­di­tion to help­ing build new col­la­gen, L-ascor­bic acid is a po­tent an­tiox­i­dant, helps re­verse sun dam­age, fights wrin­kles, and ac­tu­ally acts to help pre­vent new sun dam­age by its an­tiox­i­dant ef­fect. Ob­vi­ously, vi­ta­min C should be part of any good skin-care rou­tine.

Here is where things get com­pli­cated: L-ascor­bic acid is read­ily ox­i­dized upon ex­po­sure to air and light, which makes it dif­fi­cult to com­pound and pack­age. To avoid this, many man­u­fac­tur­ers sim­ply use var­i­ous es­ters of vi­ta­min C, which are not L-ascor­bic acid, and are nowhere near as po­tent as the pure sub­stance but can legally be called vi­ta­min C.

My clinic has de­vel­oped vi­ta­min C sera us­ing 15 per cent so­lu­tions of L-ascor­bic acid in com­bi­na­tion with vi­ta­min E and mela­tonin. Mela­tonin is key and a po­tent an­tiox­i­dant. In com­bi­na­tion with vi­ta­mins C and E, it seems to po­ten­ti­ate the an­tiox­i­dant ef­fect of the serum, and in turn cre­at­ing a sit­u­a­tion where the sum is greater than the parts.

There are a num­ber of ex­cel­lent vi­ta­min C sera avail­able. Be sure to look for 15 per cent L-ascor­bic acid in the in­gre­di­ent list. That’s the real thing. Ap­ply vi­ta­min C serum to clean skin ev­ery morn­ing.

Your skin will thank you.

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