27-10-2017 | Dermatologist | Skin , Nutrition

Popular Misconceptions about Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an essential nutrient that helps our body perform basic everyday functions and our skin stay firm and supple, preventing against the effects of aging.

It's quite common to hear false beliefs about this very important vitamin. For example, you often hear that vitamin C is associated with the consumption of oranges... but it's found in many other foods, too. Remember the human body does not produce vitamin C, which is why we need to get it from external sources, basically through foods that contain it to cover our body's requirements.

What is vitamin C and what’s it for?

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is an essential nutrient, i.e., something the body cannot synthesise. That's why we have to ingest or absorb it to be able to use it in many metabolic reactions and physiological processes.

It’s also important to mention that it is a water-soluble vitamin and is heat-sensitive. Lack of vitamin C causes a disease called scurvy.

It plays numerous functions within the body and helps in many processes, engaging in immune system processes and energy cycles during physical exercise, helping to reduce muscle tiredness. It also aids in iron absorption. Plus, it plays an important role in the skin, helping to synthesise collagen and delivering a powerful antioxidant effect.

What does it do with regards skin?

Vitamin C applied topically to the skin is a very effective antioxidant in the prevention and treatment of the aging process. It helps protect our skin from oxidative stress by neutralising free radicals.

However, there are many popular misconceptions about vitamin C.

  • It’s not a very stable nutrient:
    • It’s true that it has a relatively delicate composition because it’s sensitive to heat, oxygen and sunlight. But that doesn't mean that it is lost in the process of making juice, as many people think. Juice doesn't lose vitamins at room temperature, only if we heat it to.
  • It’s only found in oranges:
    • Vitamin C is not only found in oranges. There are other foods that have a greater amount of it, such as fruit and vegetables like broccoli, spinach, strawberries, kiwis, peppers and pineapple.
  • It creates skin spots:
    • Using products that contain vitamin C doesn't create spots, i.e. doesn't cause hyperpigmentation. In fact, at concentrations between 5% and 15%, vitamin C has a depigmenting effect that makes it ideal for improving skin tone because it brightens the face.
  • It’s not suitable for sensitive skin:
    • Serums containing formulations with vitamin C derivatives are more advisable for sensitive skin. This is because concentrated vitamin C is less stable and has an irritant component due to its low pH (acidity) level. However, it tends to be less effective.
  • It's great to use before sunbathing to get a tan:

It shouldn't be associated with sun exposure because vitamin C is unstable to sunlight, when its antioxidant properties decline. If you enjoy sunbathing, we recommend you use a sunscreen suitable for your skin type and avoid products that contain vitamin C.


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DermatologistExpert in skin care

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