If we remember our history lessons, we know that many sailors suffered greatly with the effects of scurvy. This was because sailors were at sea for long periods of time, where fruit and fresh vegetables were in short supply due to lack of space, or the stocks had run out due to the produce having a short shelf life.
Scurvy was found to be caused by a deficiency of vitamin C, by a Scottish surgeon, James Lind, who worked for the Royal Navy. His advice, to treat patients of scurvy with citrus fruit, was overlooked by his peers and consequently not implemented by the Royal Navy for several decades.
Vitamin C, it is said, can cure the common cold, but while there is no absolute proof of this; there are plenty of other benefits to ensuring the vitamin is a regular part of your diet. It acts as an antioxidant and also bolsters the effects of the immune system.
Vitamin C also contains a natural antihistamine. It prevents histamine release and increases the rate at which histamine is removed from the human body. A study in 1992 proved that taking just 2 grams of vitamin C on a daily basis lowered the blood histamine levels by 38% in healthy adults in just one week.
Well, that’s just one small part of the many benefits of vitamin C. Have you ever thought about what the vitamin actually does for our skin and scars?
Vitamin C Helps Skin and Scars Heal
Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C is vital to the production of collagen. This is a protein that aids the growth of cells and blood vessels and allows skin to remain firm and strong. Ascorbic acid also supports the production of scar tissue and ligaments and helps the skin to repair itself.
Unlike some animals, humans are unable to produce our own vitamin C. The only way we can ensure our skin gets enough is to add more to our diet and use skin care products that contain a stable form of vitamin C. More about stable vitamin C for scars and other safe ingredients in this post; the best cream for scar lightening.
This can be a minefield as ascorbic acid tends to turn brown once it has been oxidized, and unfortunately, this renders it completely useless. Many vitamin C-based products are colored brown or dark yellow to disguise the oxidation.
Independent studies show that vitamin C:
- Regulates collagen formation – which helps to keep skin firm
- Improves hydration of the skin – helps prevent wrinkles
- Lightens dark scars and pigmented skin lesions – reduces unsightly scarring and lightens liver spots
- Decreases inflammation and redness – helps to prevent blotches caused by irritated skin and spots
- Is a powerful antioxidant which prevents skin damage – oxygen can lead to cell dysfunction.
Patients were asked to carry out a blind test, with half applying a newly formulated vitamin C complex to one half of the face and a polysilicone gel base to the other side. Clinical evaluation of wrinkling, pigmentation, inflammation and hydration was performed before study and again at weeks 4, 8 and 12.
Questionnaires were completed by each patient and the results were most impressive with the vitamin C-treated side having decreased photoaging scores of the cheeks and noted improved hydration. Biopsies revealed increased collagen and no patients showed any evidence of inflammation. No patient felt that the placebo side showed unilateral improvement.
Among stable vitamin C there are some other substances that are clinically proven to lighten scars.
Read this post for extensive information on the role of vitamin C in wound healing.