I’d be lying if I said I’m not even a tiny bit jealous of this vitamin – its estimated worth is several billion dollars and even my cousin’s 4-year old DAUGHTER has heard of vitamin C and its magical healing powers. This makes vitamin C the Elvis of all nutrients. How do you get this successful as a vitamin?
Is it talent? Is it luck? Do you have to have a rich family? Do you maybe have to sleep your way to the top? Or do you have to steal toilette paper from work? What is it?
For months I stayed up all night thinking about how Vitamin C got to where it is now. I couldn’t get a wink of sleep. What was its secret?
So I went to the library. I researched. And researched. I spent more time in the library than a bookworm. To the point that people thought I worked there and started asking me questions. And I’m not gonna lie - I did make some extra cash, because I sold some of the books I found there on Ebay. Some call it stealing, others call it entrepreneurship. And then I started wearing a bun. And glasses. And a very cool sweater. I was the model of the library.
But after weeks of research, a new look and a new career path, I couldn’t find any dirt on vitamin C. The only thing I did find out is that Vitamin C got to be so famous because it’s a hard worker and a miracle manufacturer.
BORING, I know! Someone just kill me now. All this time – just to find out that they still exist – those hard working vitamins that make us feel great, think clear and look beautiful.
Sad thing is that I missed out on that whole information about how vitamin C can upgrade my whole life for 31 years. Because for the last 31 years I was trying to make my cells produce their own vitamin C. If you can dream it – you can do it. Isn’t that the motto? Well it seems this doesn’t work with cells. Even if they work around the clock and send happy thoughts out in the universe – human cells cannot make vitamin C. Go figure.
That's why we need to be eating fruits and vegetables – it’s their cells that are pretty special and can make vitamin C. Here I will share with you why this truly fascinating vitamin actually works as a beauty vitamin and what's the best way to get it.
WHAT IS VITAMIN C?
Vitamin C is an antioxidant water soluble vitamin, which fights diseases, makes us smart, beautiful, slim and improves our mood.
And even though it seems like I'm kissing the ass of vitamin C here, I can't help but feel like I’m understating the importance of this nutrient.
See also: 9 Beauty benefits of vitamin C
Let's take a look at the two major functions of vitamin C that make it a very versatile beauty nutrient.
1. VITAMIN C HELPS BUILD COLLAGEN
During the 5 years I was studying biochemistry I never realized that vitamin C is somehow connected to collagen.
Did not have a clue. It’s funny how education works – most of the things you learn are really difficult and they suck when you try to apply them in real life. However thanks to my OWN research (here OWN is not an abbreviation for Oprah's network), now I know more than five years of studying any discipline could ever teach me.
And I finally know how vitamin C is connected to collagen: Vitamin C supports two enzymes that make the conversion of pro-collagen to the super productive and strong collagen possible. Which means – no vitamin C – no functioning collagen.
Wait a minute, what's collagen?
Collagen is a structural protein and is the most abundant protein in the body. It's responsible for holding the whole body together. That’s quite the weight on the shoulders of collagen. Imagine you had to do that. Would be stressful, right. If it wasn’t for collagen things would be falling apart – bones, skin, blood vessels, teeth, cartilage…- it would be a big mess with lots of bruises, wounds, wrinkles and fractures.
Collagen is super important for the firmness and strenght of the skin. When we get older we’re able to make less and less collagen. That’s why we get wrinkles everywhere and start looking saggy. It’s an inevitable process. But! The good news is – even though most of the collagen might want to say buh bye to the body as we get older, we can still convince this amazing protein to stay a little longer with a little help from our friend vitamin C.
2. VITAMIN C IS AN ANTIOXIDANT
The worst thing you can do to your skin is put it in the sun for hours. The reason for that is simply that UV light produces a bunch of free radicals that just butcher the skin structures. But if you get your vitamin C you might be able to counteract those bad guys.
Too many free radicals cause oxidative stress and vitamin C is an antioxidant. ANTI – OXIDANT! That’s right: it neutralizes oxidation and thus prevents oxidative stress from happening. It’s super important to prevent oxidative stress, because it’s the root cause of most diseases AND of aging.
That's why getting enough antioxidants including vitamin C regularly is probably the smartest thing you can do if you're interested in living a long happy and healthy life.
You might also want to look at: Why is the sun dangerous and how to prevent sun damage?
HOW WOULD WE LOOK IF WE DON’T GET ENOUGH VITAMIN C?
Well if you want to see how you would look if you don’t have enough vitamin C in your body just google scurvy.
And unfortunately despite all the abundance of fruits and vegetables today, doctors actually think that many of us are a victim of scurvy, because not many people eat their fruits and veggies. Isn’t that ironic? Alanis Morissette, tell them!
The good news is: even something as ugly as scurvy is preventable AND reversible, as soon as you start getting enough vitamin C.
HOW TO GET ENOUGH VITAMIN C: BEST SOURCES AND STORING
Before you go buy a supplement, you need to know some more stuff about vitamin C.
FOOD OR SUPPLEMENT?
If you don’t have a deficiency it’s always best to eat healthier instead of getting a supplement. A supplement might be a little bit too much of the good stuff. It's been shown for example that higher doses of vitamin C on its own is not really beneficial, because it can become pro-oxidant instead of anti-oxidant. It can also induce diarrhea or cause kidney stones. That doesn't sound appealing to me.
If you take vitamin C through food there’s no danger of that. This is because food is made of more than just one nutrient. It might contain a lot of one nutrient, true, but it contains many other things. This has 2 benefits:
1. Other components of the food prevent vitamin C from becoming harmful
2. Nutrients actually work together and increase their value for the body. For example vitamin C and vitamin E together protect the skin far better than vitamin C or E would ever do it on their own.
FOOD SOURCES OF VITAMIN C
You know the best things in life are free or not so expensive? Well even though organic fruits and vegetables are more expensive than designer clothes these days, I still like to count them among life's best things. They're also great great sources of vitamin C. Some of the best ones are:
- berries (strawberries, raspberries blueberries, Aronia)
- citrus fruits (lemons, oranges, grapefruit)
- green leafy veggies like spinach & kale
- cabbage, Brussel's sprouts, broccoli
To make sure you get enough of vitamin C you can try drinking a smoothie in the morning, adding berries to your breakfast, drinking lemon water, having a salad with your lunch/dinner, or even having fruits/veggies as a snack.
HOW TO STORE
Because vitamin C is very unstable it’s best to eat these foods fresh and not cooked. Also eating them as soon as possible and not in a few months after you got them can be helpful – vitamin C decomposes if stored too long.
Q: SHOULD I GET ALL THE VITAMIN C AT ONCE?
A: We absorb small amounts of vitamin C almost completely – yet if we take too much of it at once, we absorb only about 20% of it. So drinking one smoothie in the morning doesn’t make much sense, if you’re not going to touch anything else that contains vitamin C for the rest of the day.
Also as we saw UV light reduces the amount of vitamin C in the skin and anyway we pee most of it out. So the body and the environment requires us to supply this vitamin many times throughout the day. Remember the free radicals do not like to wait around – they get to destruction fast and it’s best we make sure vitamin C is there waiting for them at all times.
I must say Vitamin C has really won me over - it's a talented little fellow. If you're not convinced yet, I will be posting on its beauty benefits soon. (you can meanwhile find them here). Hope you enjoy your day and eat a lemon or two!