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More than just a cold remedy, vitamin C is the secret weapon in your beauty arsenal. Georgia Collins uncovers its Skin-Transforming powers

Fact: Vitamin C is essential for maintaining a healthy body. But what many of us don't know is that it is also crucial for younger-looking, blemish-free skin. Of course, what we want to know is exactly how much vitamin C we need to achieve this holy grail of skincare, and why is it so powerful?

Description: More than just a cold remedy

More than just a cold remedy, vitamin C is the secret weapon in your beauty arsenal. Georgia Collins uncovers its Skin-Transforming powers

Less Is More

Our bodies can't produce vitamin C independently, so we need to find it elsewhere. Specialists have been debating exactly how much we should he consuming for years and according to Ana-Kristina Skrapac, specialize dietitian and spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association, a surprisingly small dose, 40mg to 60mg per day, will do. Overdosing won't help reverse the ageing process either, explains Skrapac. 'Vitamin C is it water-soluble nutrient, which means any more than the amount our bodies can absorb will go straight through us,' she says.

Collagen Boost

Perhaps the most important role vitamin C (or L-ascorbic acid, as it's often called on labels) plays in the body is its ability to stimulate collagen production in the skin - the key to a plumped complexion. 'Ageing and UV rays can deplete collagen levels, but vitamin C not only kick-starts its production, it makes exactly the right type that the skin can use,' says Dr Tom Mammone, Clinique's executive director of skin physiology and pharmacology.

Spot Checks

'Vitamin C is being used more and more as a key ingredient in acne treatments.' says Mammone. 'It’s multitasking abilities mean it can work on decreased collagen levels and excessive free radicals [it speeds up skin turn-over] and address any pigment damage that acne may have caused.’

Description: Vitamin C

The Truth About … Vitamin C

A Great Antioxidant

Free radicals in the skin (released as a result of UV, pollution and smoke exposure) form when a bond breaks. They then attach themselves to the nearest molecules, creating cell damage. 'Vitamin C plugs the free radicals and the damage stops there,' says Mammone.

Oranges Aren't the Only Fruit

If you want to increase the vitamin C in your diet, don't just buy oranges. Kiwi fruit, red peppers, strawberries and parsley - fresh and raw or soon after it’s been steamed - are also excellent sources. Fruit juice (with no added sugar) is good, but restricts yourself to a small glass, as that'll give you all the vitamin C you need. If you're fighting a cold, there are other foods that have immune-boosting properties. A study by the American publication The Jounual of Nutrition found that white button mushrooms (with their antiviral effects) and zinc supplements (to fight infection) will help.

Improved Circulation

Vitamin C also plays an important role in our circulatory systems. As we age, our soft-tissue structures, such as veins and arteries, become weak, causing sluggish blood flow, which has negative implications, especially on the heart. Shabir Daya, a pharmacist, explains: 'Bioflavonoids (aka vitamin P) found in the pith of vitamin C-rich foods such as oranges, lemons and grapefruit, help strengthen the walls of these soft tissues, ensuring they are smooth and blood is pumped easily.'

Description: Improved Circulation

Read The Label

Vitamin C is a volatile active, which means it needs to be stabilized in skincare products. If not, it stops being an effective antioxidant and can actually release those unwanted free radicals. 'Treat your beauty products with care - telltale signs of vitamin C gone bad include a yellowish color change,' advises cosmetic dermatologist Sam Bunting. She advises choosing white and clear products so you can easily detect this change. Stabilizing ingredients to look for are magnesium ascorbic phosphate and ascorbic palpitate, but make sure they're high up (which means they're present in sufficient quantities) on the list of ingredients.

The Best Multitasker

‘The great thing about vitamin C is its versatility and because it’s a natural active, it's also very safe,’ says Mammone. `It addresses almost every skincare concern, from ageing and UV damage to hyperpigmentation - it's in almost every treatment product Clinique makes.' Bunting agrees and also points out its anti-inflammatory properties - vitamin C reduces the messages between cells that contribute to inflammation. ‘It's so well-tolerat-ed that almost every patient I see will leave with a bottle of vitamin C serum if nothing else,' she concludes.

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