Vitamin C is one of the most essential vitamins in our daily diet and is needed for good cellular growth, tissue repair, the formation of collagen, and to help heal wounds. An antioxidant, it helps prevent damage caused by free radicals in our body, improves the absorption of iron from plant-based foods, and helps to strengthen our immune system.
Vitamin C is perhaps the most familiar of all the nutrients because of its widespread use as a dietary supplement, and because the body can't store vitamin C we need to consume it on its regular basis. So how can you tell if you need to boost your vitamin C intake? Indicators include dry and splitting hair, gingivitis or inflammation of the gums and rough, dry and scaly skin.You may also notice a tendency to bruise easily, excessive nosebleeds and a delay in the healing process of scabs or wounds. Dangerously low levels of vitamin C may lead to high blood pressure, gallbladder disease, a stroke and atherosclerosis, which is the build-up of plaque that can lead to heart attack and stroke.
Not only is it important to maintain general health, vitamin C plays a vital role within the beauty industry too.
- Sun Protection: Vitamin C protects our skin from free radicals which we develop as part of our daily life through sun exposure, environmental pollution and smoking.
- Production of Collagen: Vitamin C is a required component for the production of hydroxyproline and hydroxylysine, both of which are essential in the production of collagen and so vital in the fight against ageing.
- Healing Wounds: The body uses Vitamin C to replace damaged tissue. It also helps improve skin elasticity thereby aiding a quicker recovery.
- Reducing skin discolouration: Vitamin C applied topically lightens hyper-pigmentation such as skin freckles and age spots for a younger and smoother looking skin.
- Improving skin texture: Vitamin C is essential for a healthy vascular system. The tiny blood vessels under the skin carry oxygen and nutrients that keep the skin healthy. Without enough nutrients the skin becomes rough and dry. Creams containing Vitamin C help it retain moisture and will visibly plump up the surface.
- Improving hair health: Vitamin C deficiency is thought to result in dry hair and split ends, whilst if not treated, dandruff and a dry flaky scalp can lead to damage of the hair follicle and inhibit hair growth. Vitamin C helps to fight the bacteria on the scalp to prevent flakiness and encourage new hair to grow. Its anti-viral properties will help reduce itchiness. By improving blood circulation it strengthens and repairs capillaries so helping in the search for stronger, thicker hair.
Best natural sources of vitamin C: Oranges, kiwi fruit, strawberries, broccoli, sprouts, cauliflower, kale, bell peppers, red and green chillies. How much is enough? the recommended daily dose of vitamin C is around 500mg which you will struggle to get from your five a day. Recent research shows there may be a contra-indication when taking too high a dose (some supplements are as high as 1500mg), so if in doubt seek advice before taking supplements.