Vitamin C plays an important role in skin repair, including the healing of acne scars. It is a water-soluble vitamin, meaning it is not stored in your body, so you must ingest it daily. If you are acne-prone, talk with your dermatologist about vitamin C. She may advise you to take a supplement or use a vitamin C cream.
What It Does
You need vitamin C for the synthesis of collagen, a structural part of vessels, bones, connective tissue and skin. Severe acne can leave scars. If you don't get enough vitamin C, collagen can break down, which can keep your scars from healing. Vitamin C is also an anti-oxidant. Anti-oxidants fight off highly reactive free radicals that permanently damage cells, including skin cells. The "Journal of Investigative Dermatology" published research in 2006 that found that reactive oxygen species can damage skin and increase inflammation and scarring related to acne. Ingesting or applying vitamin C may help ward off ROS.
You can take vitamin C orally or apply it topically. Keeping on top of your vitamin C intake can help you build collagen and prevent scarring. Women need 75 mg of vitamin C daily, and men need as much as 90 mg. Acne-prone teenagers ages 14 to 18 need smaller amounts: 65 mg for girls and 75 mg for boys. According to the "Journal of Drugs in Dermatology," the anti-oxidant properties of topical vitamin C creams can help reduce irritation and redness associated with acne scars, as well as rebuild collagen that has been destroyed.
Ingesting a little too much vitamin C usually doesn't have adverse health implications, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements. If you take too much in one day, however, you could experience gastrointestinal distress, including diarrhea, bloating, cramping and nausea. Vitamin C is generally safe in doses up to 2,000 mg. Continued excessive doses -- those above 10 g or 10,000 mg -- could lead to problems with increased oxidative stress, kidney stones and atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. Oxidative stress from too much vitamin C can be counterproductive in healing your acne scars, because it increases free radicals that damage skin and cells.
Your primary sources of vitamin C should be whole foods, which provide other types of anti-oxidants that may further assist in acne-scar healing. Fruits and vegetables are your best bet to get the maximum amount of vitamin C from your diet. A 1/2-cup serving of red pepper slices, whole kiwi or medium orange all provide more than 60 mg of vitamin C. Additional vitamin C-rich foods include tomatoes, broccoli, strawberries, grapefruit and cantaloupe. Fortified breakfast cereals are another way to get your vitamin C first thing in the morning.
- Linus Pauling Institute: Vitamin C; November 2009
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin C
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Wounds; June 2010
- "Journal of Drugs in Dermatology": Topical Vitamins; C. Burgess; July 2008
- "Journal of Investigative Dermatology": Oxidative Stress in the Pathogenesis of Skin Disease; David R. Bickers and Mohammad Athar; March 2006