C is for skin!

Written by Ravinder Lilly, USANA ANZ Writer and Dietitian

Everyone wants beautiful, clear skin. But when you pick up any of the masses of skin creams around, do you ever feel like you need PhD in chemistry to understand the ingredients? The good news is about one of the most potent skin nourishers around and, it’s something we all know about – good old vitamin C!

Manufacturers of skin care products often include vitamin C (AKA ascorbic acid) to skin creams and lotions because some of its many roles and functions are keeping your skin healthy.

More about the skin you’re in…

As your body’s biggest organ, your skin reflects on the outside what’s happening on the inside. We humans can’t make vitamin C, we can’t store it for very long, and this delicate vitamin is easily lost by heat, light and air. On the other hand, not-so-great diet and lifestyle choices can leave their mark on your skin too so that it looks less than radiant! So how can delicate vitamin C have such powerful actions inside your body?

Feed your skin

Collagen is the structural protein that gives skin its firmness and strength and vitamin C is essential for both the production of collagen and for making elastin, the substance which gives skin its elasticity. Both of these also help to keep your skin looking plump, taut and line free. Some studies suggest that vitamin C may kick-start the body into producing more of these proteins – so you could say that it’s a potent anti-ager, too!

Stress skin attack

When you feel stressed (which is pretty often for some of us!), the stress hormone cortisol is released. Small amounts of stress hormones are vital for getting you up and about. But too much triggers inflammation which in turn breaks down collagen. And since collagen helps to keep your skin plump and firm, signs of stress may be visible in your complexion.

Antioxidant action

Another of vitamin C’s skin-protective health benefits is due to its powerful antioxidant action. Although only small amounts of it can be stored inside your body, the highest concentrations are stored under the skin in the dermis and the epidermis. Here as in other parts of the body, vitamin C fights and neutralises free radicals, reactive oxygen molecules. You already know that these result from normal metabolic actions, but they can also result from pollution, too many fatty and sugary foods, alcohol and cigarette smoke. Build-up of free radicals can cause damage to cells including lines and wrinkles – clearly visible for all to see!

Smoker’s face

Smoking or being around second-hand cigarette smoke also depletes your body of the tiny stores of vitamin C it can hang onto. Smoking introduces free radicals into the body so if you smoke, your body need more free radical fighting vitamin C. And, the more you smoke, the more vitamin C you lose from your cells . Plus, smoking limits the oxygen carrying capacity of blood vessels, including those that carry oxygen and nutrients to your face, it can make you skin look older – an unpleasant term called ‘Smokers Face.’ Plus, wounds take longer to heal, scars tend to be bigger and redder than if you didn’t smoke and had a C-rich diet, too (vitamin C is needed for the production of protective scar tissue).

Damage protection

And talking of scar tissue, according to research from the University of Maryland Medical Centre, lab studies suggest that vitamin C may also help to prevent the damage that can occur after sun exposure. However there’s no excuse – protecting your skin from harmful UV light is essential!

Cleaning up dark spots

Your skin can look uneven and discoloured for many reasons. But many pigmentation problems involve an enzyme called tyrosinase. Vitamin C helps to slow down the production of tyrosinase and so it may help to revitalise and brighten your skin.

Iron and vitamin C

Because vitamin C helps your body to absorb iron, and since a sign of iron deficiency is pale skin (iron is needed to carry oxygen to all your body cells), getting enough vitamin C helps your body’s control systems absorb the iron you need. So, you have a more natural looking colour.

Find vitamin C firstly through a healthy diet, one that contains at least two servings of fresh fruits and five servings of veggies every day. Even the humble potato provides vitamin C – as long as you don’t boil it to death first!

Top tips for great skin:

1. Enjoy a healthy diet that contains plenty of C-containing fruits and veggies every day.

2. Choose brightly coloured produce – orange fruits and veggies. These contain the pigment beta carotene which is converted into vitamin A in the body. This vitamin helps to regulate cell production and turnover, helping to keep your skin's surface smooth. Red fruits like tomatoes contain lycopene which is another powerful antioxidant that may even help prevent sun damage (sun protection is still vital, though). Cooked tomatoes are much easier to absorb than raw tomatoes but raw tomatoes contain more vitamin C.

3. Opt for oily fish like salmon and sardines. Make fish the dish of the day at least twice a week. The omega-3 oils they contain help to keep your skin plumped up and healthy. Other omega-3 rich foods include walnuts and freshly ground flaxseeds.

4. Go low - GI that is. Choose wholegrains the less processed the better! Do this and you’ll help to keep insulin levels more steady. High GI foods and drinks cause spikes in blood glucose levels and insulin. And it’s the insulin surges that may boost production of androgens, hormones that, when raised, may cause breakouts.

5. Go nuts for almonds. As well as protein, almonds contain antioxidant vitamin E which can help to repair damaged cells.

6. Snack on dark chocolate. Go for a brand that contains at least 70 per cent cocoa solids. Chocolate contains antioxidant flavonoids which are free radical fighters. As moreish as it is, try to stick with just one or two squares per day, though, as it’s also calorie rich.

7. Drink plenty of water. There’s no set amount recommended, but as a general rule of thumb, your urine should be straw coloured. Any darker, and you need to drink more. Teas are good choices, too.

8. Get enough rest. Sleep time is regeneration time for mind and body.

9. Allow yourself some 'you' time. Set aside some time for you to do what you want to do - it's important for your overall health.

10. Get your blood flowing with regular exercise. Aim for at least half an hour on most days. Choose something you love and you’ll keep on coming back for more.

Do you need a supplement?

You may need a supplement if:

• If you have a very limited diet. Today’s high-speed lifestyles mean that many of us rely on grabbing ready made meals, fast foods and takeaways – high on convenience and low in nutrition.

• If you have certain medical conditions such as difficulty in absorbing nutrients.

• If your diet isn’t as good as it could be.

• If you smoke.

Topping up your levels of vitamin C couldn’t be easier! USANA’s Poly C™ provides higher levels of vitamin C than ascorbic acid alone.

Poly C is an advanced vitamin C based on USANA's proprietary blend of mineral ascorbates which provides 600mg of vitamin C protection in each tablet for antioxidant protection. This unique vitamin C blend contains bioflavonoids for so you can be sure that the vitamin C in Poly C is broken down, is absorbed and can be used by your body.

USANA’s Poly C is:

• A unique blend of mineral ascorbates

• Provides 600 mg of vitamin C per tablet for enhanced antioxidant protection

• Strengthens the immune system, supports the synthesis of collagen.

So go on, get your skin glowing!

Poly C is laboratory tested, potency guaranteed. Meets British Pharmacopoeia specifications for uniformity and disintegration where applicable.

Using Poly C™: take two (2) to four (4) Poly C tablets daily, or as your personal needs require. Do not exceed four (4) tablets per day.

Suitable for vegetarians.

Vitamin supplements should not replace a balanced diet. USE ONLY AS DIRECTED. ALWAYS READ THE LABEL.



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