Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is a white, crystalline compound found in most fruit and vegetables. Red and green bell peppers, strawberries, kiwi fruit, broccoli and citrus fruits are particularly good sources. The best way to include vitamin C in your diet is by eating it in these forms – because the vitamin is more stable that way, and because fruits and vegetables contain a multitude of other beneficial nutrients and dietary fibre.
Hundreds of years ago, sailors on long journeys often developed scurvy, a severe form of vitamin C deficiency, but in the 19th century, a Scottish naval surgeon named James Lind found that people with this disease could be cured if they drank citrus juice. Limes and other citrus fruit were readily available to the Brits from the colonies, so lime and citrus juice became staples on board the British navy. That's where the slang name 'limey' comes from. Vitamin C was isolated in 1928 and identified as the cure for scurvy in 1932.
This vitamin is vital for our health. It is essential for the production of collagen (a protein that helps to hold cells together and is needed for wound healing). Vitamin C is also essential for healthy blood vessels, gums, teeth and bones. Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant, contributes to brain function and aids the absorption of iron and calcium from the diet. Vitamin C also boosts our immune system and protects against cancer.
Vitamin C is easily destroyed when it comes into contact with oxygen, excessive heat and some metals (especially when in liquid form). However, many studies have been conducted on it as a cosmetic ingredient because of its excellent antioxidant properties and ability to boost collagen production. The isolated form of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) may also aid skin when applied topically. Antioxidants, such as vitamin C, can help to combat the activity of free radicals and protect against sun damage.
Cosmetic manufacturers sometimes add colour to mask the fact that their product contains little vitamin C. (Beware of bright yellow or orange vitamin C products, as ascorbic acid in its effective, non-oxidised form is usually white or just off-white in colour.)
While exploring interesting new ways in which to help get antioxidants to the surface of our skin, we thought that toner tabs were the best way possible. Vitamin C powder can stay stable in its dry form until needed and when added to water, the toner tab will release its ingredients and aroma to help refresh and condition skin. The steam will also be of benefit to the skin and help unclog surface residue.
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