The Ultimate Anti-Aging Vitamin

Remember when vitamin C was hailed as the best, and maybe only, cold remedy? Then it became the Rodney Dangerfield of vitamins: It didn’t get any respect.


Remember when vitamin C was hailed as the best, and maybe only, cold remedy? Then it became the Rodney Dangerfield of vitamins: It didnt get any respect. The nutrients glory days of curing scurvy-riddled sailors via juicy citrus fruit seemed to be the only thing keeping its reputation afloat, particularly after a massive research review found C to be virtually useless for fighting colds. But dont believe it. The truth is that scientists have taken a fresh look at C—and have found lots of new ways it can help you stay healthy and look and feel younger. Heres the latest on what C can really do for you.

Prevent wrinkles
You cant pick up a beauty product these days without the label touting its antioxidants. Theres a good reason: Antioxidants—like vitamin C—help turn back the clock. An October 2007 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who ate foods rich in vitamin C had fewer wrinkles and less age-related dry skin than those whose diets contained only small amounts of the vitamin. C helps form collagen, which smooths fine lines and wrinkles, according to Patricia Farris, MD, clinical assistant professor of dermatology at Tulane University in New Orleans.

The key seems to be Cs ability to fight free radicals, a by-product of cell metabolism in your body. Free radicals are thought to attack proteins, fats, and DNA—and break down collagen. C also seems to guard against ultraviolet rays from the sun, which can lead to freckles and a mottled complexion. “Vitamin C does some repair and firming on the skin,” Farris says.

What to do now: Use a topical vitamin C treatment daily after you wash your face and before you slather on moisturizer or sunscreen so it penetrates the skin. Farris recommends La Roche-Posay Active C facial moisturizer or SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic topical antioxidant treatment.

Protect your heart
Experts continue to argue about whether antioxidants like vitamin C can prevent heart disease. But some of the evidence is highly persuasive. When Finnish researchers looked at studies involving nearly 300,000 people over 10 years, they found that taking more than 700 milligrams of C supplements daily reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease by 25 percent. And a recent study from Harvard Uni-versity researchers hints that women who take a combo of 500 milligrams of vitamin C daily and 600 IU of vitamin E (another antioxidant) can cut their risk of stroke by 30 percent. Its possible that people who take vitamin supplements simply have healthier lifestyles than those who dont, which could explain this finding. Its also possible, experts say, that C enhances the functioning of endothelial cells (which line the inside of all blood vessels), slowing artery clogging and lowering blood pressure.

What to do now: Eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, which are full of vitamin C as well as other healthy nutrients, and consider taking C and E supplements. Experts say there are essentially no risks, but first check with your doctor.


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Rachel Grumman
Last Updated: April 21, 2008

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