Vitamin C is not made by our bodies and so it must be ingested. Rich sources include citrus fruits, peppers, parsley and berries. Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin and so it is not found in oils. Although rose hips may be a good source of vitamin C, the oil extracted from rose hips is not a source of vitamin C as many claim.
Signs of Vitamin C deficiency are follicular hyperkeratosis (rough, raised bumps), petechial hemorrhages (red marks), swollen or bleeding gums, and joint pain.
Vitamin C is also known as L-ascorbic acid and it likes to work with flavonoids for full activity. Its actions include:
- It is a cofactor for the enzyme lysyl and prolyl hydroxylase. These enzymes are necessary to form the three dimensional structure of the skin matrix protein, collagen. Improving collagen leads to firmer skin.
- Vitamin C inhibits the enzyme tyrosinase which results in decreased production of melanin. This helps reduce pigmented age spots on the skin.
- Vitamin C is an antioxidant and inhibits lipid peroxidation and DNA damage caused by UV light. In doing so it also helps protect against UV induced skin damage.
- Vitamin C inhibits the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines including IL-1α, IFN-γ, IL-8, IL-2, TNF-α, and eotaxin as well as CRP. This may result in decreased reddening and irritation of the skin.
- Ascorbic acid participates in the synthesis of carnitine. (β-hydroxy butyric acid). Carnitine is an antioxidant, is thought to firm the skin and is involved in the production of energy from fats.
- Ascorbic acid is involved reactions necessary for activity of oxytocin; the love hormone that is stimulated by skin to skin contact.