How does vitamin C benefit skin?

Vitamin C Foods

Vitamin C can improve your skin, strengthen your immune system, protect against cardiovascular disease and reduce your risk of stroke, and doctors say it's one of the safest and most effective nutrients [source: Zelman]. Vitamin C is water-soluble, which means it's easily absorbed through the water in your body. Your body doesn't store vitamin C, so you must replace your supply every day -- excess amounts are flushed out through your kidneys [source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration].

There are plenty of foods that can help you boost your consumption of vitamin C. If you get the recommended nine daily servings of fruits and vegetables, you're probably meeting the minimum daily recommendations for vitamin C -- in addition to many other vitamins and minerals [source: Zelman]. To ensure your diet includes plenty of vitamin C, eat citrus fruits and vegetables such as bell peppers, cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, collard greens and tomatoes [source: Bouchez]. Although opinions differ on how much vitamin C your body needs, many doctors suggest taking 500 milligrams a day, which can often be found in daily multivitamins or vitamin C supplements. However, don't exceed more than 2,000 milligrams per day -- too much vitamin C may cause stomach irritation [source: Zelman].

You can also apply topical vitamin C to your skin to encourage collagen production and fight free radicals. Look for a facial cleanser or moisturizer that contains the L-ascorbic acid form of vitamin C to ensure the vitamin penetrates your skin layers [source: Bouchez].

Check out the links below for more information on how vitamin C benefits your skin and how you can incorporate it into your diet and skin care routine.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • Bouchez, Colette. "Nutrients for Healthy Skin: Inside and Out." (Accessed 10/19/09)
  • Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. "Vitamin C." Penn State Hershey, Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, (Accessed 9/21/09)
  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration. "Fortify Your Knowledge About Vitamins." (Accessed 9/21/09)
  • University of Leicester. "Study Reveals New Role of Vitamin C in Skin Protection: Results Will Be of Great Relevance to the Cosmetics Industry." 9/09/09. (Accessed 9/21/09)
  • University of Maryland Medical Center. "Vitamin C -- Ascorbic Acid." (Accessed 9/21/09)
  • WebMD. "Skin Conditions: Collagen Injections." (Accessed 10/19/09)
  • Zelman, Kathleen, M. "The Benefits of Vitamin C." (Accessed 10/19/09)