In the realms of skincare and overall well-being, collagen and vitamin C frequently make their way into conversations. Whether in skincare products or health supplements, these elements are commonly combined for their effects on skin health. What is the actual mechanism behind their collaboration? Let’s delve into the link between vitamin C and collagen synthesis in a manner that’s simple to grasp and value.

*This article contains affiliate links. I receive a small commission when items are purchased using the link. It helps pay for fees associated for running my blog. 

collar bone of dark skin black woman

What is Collagen?

So before we learn how vitamin C teams up with collagen to give you glowy skin, let’s learn more about collagen. Collagen is the protein in our bodies constituting 75% of our skin’s dry weight. It plays a role in our skin, hair, nails, and connective tissues. Visualize collagen as the framework that supports our skin by providing structure and resilience. However, as we age, our body’s natural collagen production diminishes, resulting in wrinkles, drooping skin, and reduced elasticity.

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How Does Vitamin C Help with Collagen Production?

Vitamin C and collagen are like best friends working together to give us supple and firm skin. Vitamin C—also recognized as ascorbic acid—is a nutrient that our bodies cannot manufacture independently. Not all vitamin C products are crafted alike. To effectively enhance collagen synthesis vitamin C must be present, in concentrations (stay tuned for my vitamin c recommendation at the end of this post).

 Research indicates that a concentration of 5% is required for vitamin C to penetrate the skin and produce its positive effects effectively. Lower concentrations in formulations may not offer the advantages due to skin penetration.

black woman in green striped dress holding up two oranges

Hydroxylation Process

Collagen molecules consist of acids such as proline and lysine. To create a collagen structure these amino acids must undergo hydroxylation, a process where the chemical bond transforms. That’s where vitamin C comes in. It serves as a cofactor for the enzymes involved in this process. This step is essential for stabilizing collagen molecules and ensuring formation. According to Pullar, Carr, and Vissers (2017), “Vitamin C is essential for the biosynthesis of collagen and contributes to skin health through its antioxidant properties.” 

So in other words, vitamin C is crucial to stabilizing collagen molecules.  

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Antioxidant Protection

In its role, as an antioxidant, vitamin C shields our existing collagen from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are molecules that can degrade collagen leading to aging and skin issues. By neutralizing these radicals vitamin C helps preserve the integrity of collagen levels.

 The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology notes that “Vitamin C protects the skin from oxidative stress by donating electrons to neutralize the free radicals”

“Vitamin C is crucial to stabilizing collagen molecules.”

collagen supplements

Promotes Collagen Maturation: 

Following the synthesis of collagen it undergoes cross-linking to enhance the skin strength. Vitamin C plays a role in facilitating the formation of these cross-links contributing to the skin’s firm and resilient nature. 

So in a nut shell collagen wouldn’t be as effective if it weren’t for the powerful stabilizing, free radical fighting, cross-link protecting factors of vitamin c. If you ask me, collagen owes vitamin C a drink, err or maybe lunch at like Press Juicery or Cava. It does so much! Vitamin C practically baby sits collagen through it’s life cycle and fights off the bad guys all while offering that stability for collagen to mature into strong, proteins. 

If you’re like me, you’re probably thinking, “I need to add some vitamin C in my life.” So, here are some of my top picks for vitamin C serums and collagen supplements. *Collagen types are listed in the product caption.*All face products have the recommended 5% concentration or more for maximum skin penetration.

References

  • Pullar, J. M., Carr, A. C., & Vissers, M. C. (2017). The Roles of Vitamin C in Skin Health. Nutrients, 9(8), 866. Link
  • Silva, S. M., Ribeiro, B. D., & Rangel, A. O. (2018). The Importance of Collagen in Skin Health and Aesthetics. Journal of Investigative Dermatology, 138(2), 292-299.
  • Telang, P. S. (2013). Vitamin C in dermatology. Indian Dermatology Online Journal, 4(2), 143-146. Link
  • Al-Niaimi, F., & Chiang, N. Y. Z. (2017). Topical Vitamin C and the Skin: Mechanisms of Action and Clinical Applications. Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, 10(7), 14-17. Link

Zdzieblo, D., Oesser, S., Gollhofer, A., & König, D. (2015). Collagen peptide supplementation in combination with resistance training improves body composition and increases muscle strength in elderly sarcopenic men: a randomized controlled trial. British Journal of Nutrition, 114(8), 1237-1245.