How taking extra Vitamin C lightens skin

  • In healthy adults, Vitamin C raises glutathione levels in the red blood cells and lymphocytes
  • Glutathione helps determine the balance of light and dark pigments (pheomelanin and eumelanin) in our skin. L-cysteine and the TYRP1 enzyme also play a part in this balance
  • Taking high doses of Vitamin C (1,000 – 3,000 mgs) can help to lighten skin over time

Since you’re reading this page, you’ve probably already asked yourself: can taking Vitamin C really lighten your skin?

The short answer is: Yes, it can.

But how exactly does Vitamin C help lighten our skin?

The answer to that question is a bit longer, but reading on will be worth it in the end (I promise!). If you don’t have the time to read about just how taking high doses of Vitamin C can lighten your skin, just bookmark this page to read later.

What is Vitamin C?

Before I go on to explain what Vitamin C has to do with our skin color, I think it’s important to know just what Vitamin C is first.

Vitamin C (also called Ascorbic Acid) is a water-soluble vitamin, and is needed by our bodies to form collagen in bones, cartilage, muscle and blood vessels. We get Vitamin C from fruits and vegetables, particularly citrus fruits like lemons, limes and oranges. It is also readily available in pill or liquid supplements.

Although it is a vitamin, Vitamin C is also an antioxidant. This means it can neutralize free radicals which would otherwise damage our skin and other organs. And since it is soluble in water, Vitamin C works both inside and outside of our cells to combat this free radical damage.

vitamincorangesVitamin C and our skin

The skin is the largest organ in the human body and collagen is the building blocks. Our skin benefits greatly from Vitamin C because of its unique collagen-forming properties.

Scientists have found that collagen protein requires Vitamin C for the molecules to achieve the best configuration possible. Vitamin C prevents collagen from becoming weak and susceptible to damage (a process is called hydroxylation). Vitamin C also increases the level of the procollagen messenger RNA. It is also needed to “export” the procollagen molecules out of our cells and into the extracellular spaces. In other words, Vitamin C is crucial in ensuring the structural integrity of our collagen.

Vitamin C also helps to heal any wounds we might have. Studies have shown that when Vitamin C was given to burn victims in high doses, it reduces the transfer of blood and waste products into the tissues (capillary permeability). This could be partly due to Vitamin C’s scavenging effect on free radicals (its antioxidant properties).

In another study, when Vitamin C (2,000 mg) and natural Vitamin E (1,000 IU) were given to 20 men and women, their resistance to sunburn increased by 20% after just 8 days.  They had lower levels of inflammation and skin damage compared to the placebo group, which became more sensitive to sunburn.

Vitamin C is one antioxidant that boosts two more – glutathione and Vitamin E

Have you ever heard of that saying, one thing leads to another? This is especially true with Vitamin C.

This is because taking Vitamin C doesn’t just increase the Vitamin C levels in our blood, it also increases two more very important antioxidants – glutathione (a major antioxidant) and Vitamin E (a fat-soluble antioxidant).

Higher Vitamin C levels boosts glutathione and Vitamin E

Glutathione Vitamin E
Glutathione is our bodies’ most prevalent antioxidant Vitamin E is probably the most important fat-soluble antioxidant
It plays an important role in detoxing our bodies It protects our cells from oxidation by reacting with fatty radicals
Glutathione is a tripeptide and made up of 3 amino acids:

  1. Glycine
  2. Glutamic acid
  3. Cysteine
Vitamin E is a group of compounds made up of tocopherols and tocotrienols. Tocopherols act as antioxidants in human beings.
Glutathione converts into glutathione peroxidase, an important enzyme which prevents oxidative damage Our liver actually forms the Vitamin E in our blood, but it needs food sources with Vitamin E to do so
Our bodies make its own glutathione supply.Taking glutathione pills and supplements does not raise the glutathione levels in our blood.

 

Good food sources of Vitamin E include:

  1. Wheat germ oil
  2. Almonds
  3. Sunflower seeds, sunflower oil
  4. Hazelnuts
  5. Peanut butter

Vitamin C boosts glutathione levels in the blood

Vitamin C and glutathione have a unique relationship. Vitamin C reduces glutathione back to the active form. In its active form, glutathione will regenerate vitamin C from its oxidized state.

Compounds that have Vitamin E activity (tocopherols) also rely on Vitamin C to regenerate back to its active form.

Why is the link between Vitamin C and glutathione levels important in skin lightening?

It’s important because scientists have found out that the way our skin balances between its lighter pigments (pheomelanin) and darker pigments (eumelanin) depends on glutathione, L-cysteine and the TYRP1 enzyme.

Since Vitamin C has been scientifically proven to boost gluthathione levels in the blood, we can say that Vitamin C helps to lighten skin color.

1) Glutathione

Glutathione is found in almost all raw fruits and vegetables. Cooking destroys most glutathione, but that doesn’t really matter. Because although glutathione is found in many fruits, vegetables, and meats, our stomachs and intestines ability to absorb glutathione is very poor.

Speaking of which, please do not be fooled by “gluthathione skin whitening pills”. Glutathione pills and supplements cannot raise the glutathione levels in your blood. They will only serve to make you poorer.

To raise the glutathione levels in our blood, it is better to eat foods that is high in glutamine instead, such as lean meats, eggs, wheat germ, whey protein and whole grains. These will stimulate the liver so you can produce more glutathione naturally. Glutamine is one of the known precursors of gluthathione production. High doses of Vitamin C will also boost our natural glutathione levels, so supplementation with Vitamin C is important if you want to lighten your skin. Glutathione and Vitamin C show a strong, functional interdependence in vivo.

Note: You can be deficient in glutathione if you take Tylenol (acetaminophen) regularly or in large amounts. Doctors treat emergency cases of acetaminophen toxicity with high doses of N-aceytlycysteine (NAC), which raises glutathione levels in the blood.


2) L-cysteine

L-cysteine is an amino acid found in most high-protein foods including yogurt and whey protein. Good vegetarian sources comes are onions, garlic and broccoli . The L-cysteine derived from N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) helps to boost our liver’s production of glutathione. L-cysteine also helps synthesize proteins, taurine, coenzyme A, and inorganic sulfate.

3) The TYRP1 enzyme (or Tyrosinase-related protein 1)

Sounds scary, I know! But all you really need to know is that this is the genetic part of the whole skin lightening discussion. Our  TYRP1 gene provides instructions for making the TYRP1 enzyme. The functions of this enzyme are still unclear but it is involved in the production of melanin. It’s likely that this is where our genes come into play in determining the color of our skin.

Mutations in the TYRP1 gene has been linked with oculocutaneous albinism.

It is very important to note that, individually, none of these factors decides our skin color. All three are needed to play a part.

Enemies of Vitamin C: pollution, smoking, alcohol, diabetes

If you smoke and drink, chances are your Vitamin C levels are lower than people who don’t. And while we’re at it, do you live in a polluted area? That’ll do it too.

Studies have shown that drinking large quantities of alcohol will lower the amount of Vitamin C in your blood plasma and make you excrete vitamin C through urination. Smoking and general pollution will also lower the level of Vitamin C in the blood. Having diabetes will also reduce your body’s Vitamin C levels.

What does all this mean? Should I take Vitamin C to lighten my skin?

Yes, yes, and yes! If want to lighten your skin by internal means using supplements, detoxing or changing your diet, Vitamin C supplements are essential.

Dosage

You should take a high dose of 1,000 – 3,000 mg of Vitamin C daily either through supplements or fruits. A mixture of the two is best. Spread out your intake of Vitamin C throughout the day for maximum effectiveness.

 


References and Further Reading

 

 

Extracts of clinical studies on Vitamin C’s relationship with gluthathione levels

1 CS Johnston, CG Meyer and JC Srilakshmi Department of Family Resources and Human Development, Arizona State University, Tempe 85287.

We examined the effect of supplemental ascorbic acid on red blood cellglutathione. Subjects consumed self-selected vitamin C-restricted diets,and, under double-blind conditions, ingested placebo daily for week 1(baseline), 500 mg L-ascorbate/d for weeks 2-3, 2000 mg L- ascorbate/d forweeks 4-5, and placebo daily for week 6 (withdraw). Mean red blood cellglutathione rose nearly 50% (P < 0.05) after the 500-mg period comparedwith baseline, and the changes from baseline for individual subjects rangedfrom +8% to +84%. However, the increases in plasma vitamin C and red bloodcell glutathione were not correlated (r = 0.22). At the 2000-mg dosage,mean red blood cell glutathione was not significantly different from thevalue obtained at the 500-mg dosage. After the placebo-controlled withdrawperiod, red blood cell glutathione did not differ from baseline. These dataindicate that vitamin C supplementation (500 mg/d) maintains reducedglutathione concentrations in blood and improves the overall antioxidantprotection capacity of blood.

Background: Ascorbate and glutathione play central roles inthe defense against free radicals and oxidants that are implicatedin chronic diseases.

Objective: The objective was to determine the ability of vitaminC supplements to modulate the concentration of glutathione inhuman lymphocytes.

Design:The effect of vitamin C supplements was determined ina sequential study with time points before supplementation,after 13 wk of vitamin C supplements (500 or 1000 mg/d), andafter 13 wk of matching placebo. The supplementation group wasselected on the basis of low plasma ascorbate (

Results: At baseline, the mean (±SD) concentration ofplasma ascorbate was 19.5 ± 7.2 µmol/L, 22.5 µmol/Lbelow the median of normal distribution. The ascorbate concentrationin plasma was linearly associated with that in lymphocytes (r= 0.53, P < 0.001). On supplementation with vitamin C, lymphocyteascorbate increased by 51% (from 16.7 ± 4.9 to 25.3 ±6.9 nmol/mg protein; P < 0.001) and was accompanied by anincrease of lymphocyte glutathione by 18% (from 22.5 ±4.5 to 26.6 ± 6.5 nmol/mg protein; P < 0.001). Afterplacebo, the ascorbate and glutathione concentrations fell tonear baseline concentrations (17.1 ± 5.4 and 23.5 ±6.4 nmol/mg protein, respectively). No significant interactionwas observed for sex and smoking status. Finally, the changesin lymphocyte ascorbate after supplementation were stronglyassociated with changes in lymphocyte glutathione (r = 0.71,P < 0.001). The association suggests that every 1-mol changein ascorbate is accompanied by a change of 0.5 mol in glutathione.

Conclusion: Vitamin C supplements increase glutathione in humanlymphocytes

2 Vitamin C Is an Essential Antioxidant That Enhances Survival of Oxidatively Stressed Human Vascular Endothelial Cells in the Presence of a Vast Molar Excess of GlutathioneFrom the {ddagger}Departamento de Fisiopatología, Facultad de Ciencias Biológicas, Universidad de Concepción, Casilla 160C, Concepción, Chile, the §Departamento de Bioquímica, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Chile, Casilla 297, Santiago, Chile, the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, New York 14263, the ||Facultad de Medicina, Universidad Católica de la Santísima Concepción, Casilla 653, Concepción, Chile, and the **Instituto de Bioquímica, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Austral de Chile, Casilla 567, Valdivia, Chile

Extract: Human endothelial cells acquire and maintainelevated intracellular concentrations of AA through a combinationof overlapping mechanisms that directly impact their interactionwith blood cells and their resistance against oxidative stress.Our present data provide definitive evidence for functionalcooperation between vitamin C and glutathione in providing endothelialcells with strong antioxidant defenses. Maximal antioxidantprotection was observed only when both antioxidants were simultaneouslypresent, indicating that both antioxidants are needed for cellsurvival against oxidative stress. Most importantly, AA concentrationsin the micromolar range were fully effective in increasing antioxidantprotection in the presence of a 10-fold glutathione excess.This is an important finding because any analysis about therole of vitamin C in antioxidant defense should consider theevidence that the content of glutathione of most human cellsand tissues exceeds, sometimes by more than one order of magnitudethe respective concentrations of vitamin C.

 

Conclusion: Vitamin C Is Required for Survival of Endothelial Cells Containing Elevated Glutathione Concentrations

Extract of a study linking pheomelanin and eumelanin to L-cysteine, glutathione, and tyrosinase-related protein-1

3 Cysteine deprivation promotes eumelanogenesis in human melanoma cells

Melanocytic cells can produce two types of pigment, pheomelanin or eumelanin. We used two types of human melanoma cell lines to explore the regulation of pigmentation by biochemical and enzymatic studies. These two cell lines were previously designated as either pheomelanotic or of mixed type when cultured in a medium rich in cysteine. We analyzed the effects of L-cysteine depletion on melanin synthesis and the involvement of the tyrosinase-related proteins in the production of both eumelanin and pheomelanin. Cultures were exposed to L-cysteine concentrations ranging from 206 to 2.06 microM, and the following parameters were measured: tyrosine hydroxylase activity, intracellular L-cysteine and glutathione concentrations, eumelanin and pheomelanin formation, and tyrosinase-related protein-1 and -2 mRNA levels. Extracellular L-cysteine depletion significantly increased tyrosine hydroxylase activity and promoted both eumelanogenesis and visible pigmentation in both lines. In contrast, pheomelanogenesis was increased only in the pheomelanotic cell line. Whereas eumelanogenesis was apparent upon L-cysteine depletion, tyrosinase-related protein-1 expression was not induced in the pheomelanotic cells, and tyrosinase-related protein-2 expression remained unchanged. Thus, tyrosinase-related protein-1 mRNA expression seems to be concomitant with eumelanogenesis when the L-cysteine concentration is high, but does not appear essential for eumelanogenesis at low L-cysteine concentrations. The mechanisms governing pheomelanin to eumelanin balance are dependent on L-cysteine, glutathione, and tyrosinase-related protein-1 expression, but none of these factors alone appears to be dominant in directing the synthesis of a particular type of melanin.

Conclusion: The mechanisms governing pheomelanin to eumelanin balance are dependent on L-cysteine, glutathione, and tyrosinase-related protein-1 expression, but none of these factors alone appears to be dominant in directing the synthesis of a particular type of melanin.

Effect of Vitamin C, Vitamin E and L-cystein applied in vivo on brownish guinea pigs

4 The effect of simultaneous administration of vitamin C (ascorbic acid), L-cystein (Cys) and vitamin E (tocopherol) on the melanogenesis in vivo and in vitro was studied. Forty-eight brownish guinea pigs were divided into 4 groups as follows: VC group, VC+Cys group, VC+Cys+VE group and control group. They were given these vitamins by oral administration every day. UV-B exposure (0.384 J/cm2) on their depleted back skin was done at the day 8, 10, 12, 15 17 and 19. After UV-B irradiation, vitamins were administrated further 3 weeks. The luminosity score was measured using a Color Reader CR-11 (Minolta, Co) and the numbers of DOPA-positive melanocytes of their back skin were counted. B16 melanoma cells were incubated with VC, N-acetyl cystein (NAC) and VE. After 4 days of incubation, cells were harvested. The melanin contents and the tyrosinase activities in cells were measured. The luminosity score in the VC+VE+Cys group was higher than those in the other groups. The numbers of DOPA-positive melanocytes of guinea pigs treated with VC, VE and Cys were significantly decreased compared with those in VC group. In B16 melanoma cells, simultaneous treatment of VC, VE and NAC was the most effective to decrease the melanin contents and to inhibit tyrosinase activity. Conclusion: Vitamin C, Vitamin E and L-cystein given to guinea pigs lead to lighter skin (greater luminosity)

Glutathione taken orally has negligible effects on the body

5 Witschi A, Reddy S, Stofer B, Lauterburg BH.Department of Clinical Pharmacology, University of Bern, Switzerland.

When the plasma glutathione concentration is low, such as in patients with HIV infection, alcoholics, and patients with cirrhosis, increasing the availability of circulating glutathione by oral administration might be of therapeutic benefit. To assess the feasibility of supplementing oral glutathione we have determined the systemic availability of glutathione in 7 healthy volunteers. The basal concentrations of glutathione, cysteine, and glutamate in plasma were 6.2, 8.3, and 54 mumol.l-1 respectively. During the 270 min after the administration of glutathione in a dose of 0.15 mmol.kg-1 the concentrations of glutathione, cysteine, and glutamate in plasma did not increase significantly, suggesting that the systemic availability of glutathione is negligible in man. Because of hydrolysis of glutathione by intestinal and hepatic gamma-glutamyltransferase, dietary glutathione is not a major determinant of circulating glutathione, and it is not possible to increase circulating glutathione to a clinically beneficial extent by the oral administration of a single dose of 3 g of glutathione.

Conclusion: It is not possible to increase the body’s glutathione levels by taking it orally.

Vitamin C and Vitamin E’s protective effects against sunburns

6 UV radiation causes acute adverse effects like sunburn, photosensitivity reactions, or immunologic suppression, as well as long-term sequelae like photoaging or malignant skin tumors. UV radiation induces tissues to produce reactive oxygen species, eicosanoids and cytokines. Inhibition of these mediators might reduce skin damage. Antioxidants such as ascorbic acid and d-alpha-tocopherol have been found to be photoprotective in some in vitro studies and animal experiments.OBJECTIVE: Our purpose was to assess the protective effect of systemic vitamins C and E against sunburn in human beings.

METHODS: In a double-blind placebo-controlled study, each of 10 subjects took daily either 2 gm of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) combined with 1000 IU of d-alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E) or placebo. The sunburn reaction before and after 8 days of treatment was assessed by determination of the threshold UV dose for eliciting sunburn (minimal erythema dose [MED]) and by measuring the cutaneous blood flow of skin irradiated with incremental UV doses against that of nonirradiated skin.

RESULTS: The median MED of those taking vitamins increased from 80 to 96.5 mJ/cm2 (p < 0.01), whereas it declined from 80 to 68.5 mJ/cm2 in the placebo group. Cutaneous blood flow changed significantly (p < 0.05) for most irradiation doses with decreases in those given vitamins and increases in the placebo group.

Conclusion: Combined vitamins C and E reduce the sunburn reaction.

186 thoughts on “How taking extra Vitamin C lightens skin”

  1. Hi.. m a 23 years old girl. I used to be fair in complexion till 16. But after that my exposed areas face, hands and feet got darker. I think due to sunburn. I used sunscreen creams but was of no use. will limcee 500 n evion 400 help me in getting my original colour. M getting married within 6 months. Please suggest me. N in what amount should i take..???

    1. You should exfoliate and take vitamin c and vitamin e together. If its possible also take NAC supplements. You should search the Internet for appropriate amounts of each supplements. Read the studies on Google scholar. Also use some good exfoliant or a lotion that contains alpha hydroxy acids and use consistently till marriage. Also regularly use vitamin c serum, I have seen great results in just two days, my pimples are gone! Its unbelievable. Try all these very consistently, nothing happens overnight, or in two or three weeks unless u are very lucky. Six months will be good for you to see complete effects.
      Also buy kojie san or likas papaya or diana stalder skin whitening soaps and use consistently, they alone can make u very fair.
      And also take pure fish collagen supplements, they work like magic on skin. And dont forget to search the Internet for the doses etc. Good luck:-)

    2. Also, I don’t think just eating a single supplement can help too much or as much as u are expecting, so start doing multiple things together and with research.
      And do consider bi weekly or fortnightly facials at salons, skin whitening facials, they will help you get rid of tans.

  2. I’m dark in completion. I want my skin to be a bit lighter.not too light. I feel I am too dark an I want to feel good. What should I take. Does it mean if I use glutalight it means I should use for the rest of my life.

  3. I think its important not to rely on a company when it comes to beauty and lightening from the inside is the best imho ~
    last year i asked my mum to buy me some vitamin gummies and i did something stupid >< they said not to eat more than 1 or 2 a day but ive eaten at least 8/10 . Well the next day i woke up WAY lighter than the day before ~ having a pinkish milky tone and loving it so much. I usually mix a beige bb cream with a darker foundation to perfectly match my skintone but that day the bb cream alone was perfectly fine. Even my friends noticed and then i checked on SKINCARETALK and other ppl experienced something like that in a short time like me ~ that is to say that nature is a bless and we can archieve whatever we want in a natural way!!! Kisses ~

      1. Supradyn Energy ! but i completely forgot to mention that it was more like a beautiful side effect cuz i also experienced nose bleeding twice! ( i did for two days) >< All the two days i woke up with nose bleeding ~

  4. This Vitamin C theory is bull. I’ve been taking 1000mg mornings and 1000mg evenings for four months. But still no skin whitening noted. Who ever came up with this must have been. ……..

    1. The vit. c tablets are good for you but will not help lighten your skin.You use the ascorbic acid directly on the skin you want to lighten.The ascorbic acid powder can be mixed with citric acid to stabilize it, if making a bigger batch for a few days.Works best to mix it up as you use it.The powder can be mixed into any facial cream, body cream, or a carrier oil such as olive oil,argan oil,vitamin e.If you have dark spots or scars you can just dab it right onto the area you want lightened.You’ll need to adjust the powder amount to suit your skin sensitivity.Repeat each day and leave on as long as possible,overnight is best. Rinse off with water.

  5. Hi!Deseri here I am am tan complextion black female I’d to like to brighten up I’ve been spending money like crazy it’s very costly when trying to achieve this action so far it hasn’t happen for me just as yet check this and I don’t subject anyone try all I mention here first i’d used an skin peel from 10% 12% 50% 80% 100% peel my first tries nothing no results but this product the higher it’s percentage goes comes with an burned like hell note I spaced things out used the emi soap and emi oil sunblock my skin did peel 5 shades lighter it looked like someone elses head was place onto my body it stayed light for one month during the healing process and also I used skin lighteners some lemon washes if it help it only delayed matters to shortly what came next I did like to see it more brighter than tan or dark but soon dark spots out of no where started to appear the lightness turn into extreme darkerness where the spots was geting larger darker than it was before using the peel

    hyperpigmentation started to cover my face right now today I am wrestling to get the discoloration out lighten products take so long to show any results even home remedies lemon yogurt and honey save it for snacking did nothing so I been taken large amounts of vitamin c for months now its not working if does like mention that’s after an very long time of usage I am breaking my self every month onto skin treatment products the effectiveness is slow however I brought some soft gel skin lighten case or pills from amazon they did and do work problem is they’d turn my skin pinkish the look of an white person I stop taken them just wasn’t the look I was going for and than i’d started taken gluthionone and vitamin c different ones stay away from the licorice ones they made my body ache in places you have to take them for an great period of time before you’d notice anything they are so working in fact I have light spots made here in there not what I want I want to see much more faster lightness more than little spots here and there

    I sometimes wear fondation to cover up the discoloration it’s gonna be an long process it’s happening slow but it is happening I am only frustrated because i’d want the spoting to be over an large quantity of my face instead of here and here I hate to look at the spots something about the dullness I find it for me un attracted I am not ugly Idon’t wear makeup very often Ican stand to look at my face mostly now than I did earlier at one time I didn’t go without an painted face so this is good news yet less makeup theses days one day Iam gonna look into the mirror hopefully before the year is out with an lighter bright face its improving slowly it’s showing some bit of improvement consider the price of these pills before buying them I buy them from less to costly two bottles last for an 1 month 60 capsules 30 cap. less only last an week or 2 the doses varies it says take one a day in some cases others four so what i’ve done is taken all four each 2 times a day 2 a few minutes before breakfast and 2 before bed I see the lighten spoting takening place if the spots become to lighten before the rest decrease the doses back to three a day the more you take the better your notice some signs six bottles for three months but should anyone discover more effective results than this please s still share that information reply back with it to me I am looking for immediate effective results 2 weeks rather than an month later my entire body needs to change theses spots need to get greater than what there doing

    I just hope by the end of this year I can say yes thankyou my face is 100% lighten over 25% I do believe Iam on the right track I just need to see the results I lookforward to looking like Ciara Tamor Braxton Beyounce Nikki minraj Dencia may went to light Nikki the chick lighten up only to go back she need to tell me what all she used she was lucy I like the have that mix light brown look she once had the things you have to go through for beauty it’s all for me so I can be happy in my skin I am not happy I want an lighter tan to lean more brighter lighter than dark well until something good becomes of thing ill keep on trying in spite no easy methods get back if anyone find anything close to an miracle youth don’t hesitate to pass it on others like myself seek to make the very same make me again as the next why keep the perfect solution an secret. Thank you.

    Sincerely,Deseri Burrell

  6. You didn’t include in your article that excessive intake of Vit C may cause your body to form Calcium Crystals in your Kidneys.

  7. Hi..my skin is dark..so can i take vitamin c tablet for lightening my skin?? There wont be any side effects right??

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