The National Academy of Sciences has released its latest report on the health benefits of vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that can reduce the signs of aging and protect the skin from sun damage.
The study, which analyzed data from more than 5,500 women, found that the most beneficial vitamin is vitamin C3, which has a protective effect against the skin’s damage caused by UV rays.
Women who were getting the most vitamin C during pregnancy had a 60 percent lower risk of having skin cancer later in life than those who didn’t.
The researchers said vitamin C supplements may have been the key to the difference.
“Vitamin C3 is a very potent antioxidant that’s used in skin care products, hair care products and cosmetics,” said Dr. Karen Bouchard, a researcher at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
“We’re trying to identify the sources of vitamin c in foods and see if we can increase vitamin C levels in those foods and increase their health benefits.”
The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
In addition to the benefits of boosting the body’s antioxidant capacity, the researchers also found that women who were taking vitamin C as infants were less likely to suffer skin cancers later in their lives.
The study also found vitamin C could help protect against the development of certain skin cancers, including melanoma, basal cell carcinoma and epidermolysis bullosa, which cause skin inflammation and lead to skin cancer.
Women in the study were younger than their peers, but were still much more likely to develop skin cancer in later life than their female counterparts.
The risk for melanoma increased for every 20,000 years that women lived after reaching age 75.
For those who had melanoma in their late 30s or early 40s, the risk for developing the disease dropped by half to just over two per cent, the study found.
The same is true for basal cell cancer.
“It’s a significant finding,” Bouchards said.
“If we can get enough people to have vitamin C supplementation, and not just women who are older, then that could be a big difference in the number of people with skin cancer,” she said.
Bouchard said the study also showed that vitamin C increased the body immune system.
“The body is going to respond to it, and if you have vitamin c and a lot of people are going to have increased immunity to skin cancers in the future, then it could help prevent skin cancers,” she added.
In an interview with the Associated Press last year, Bouchart said that women need to take vitamin C to maintain healthy skin.
“We know that vitamin A is protective, and it’s one of the reasons that vitamin E and the beta carotene are important,” she told the AP.
“It’s also protective against melanoma and basal cell.”
The findings from the new study come at a time when vitamin C is being used in the fight against the flu.
Bouchds research team also found a connection between vitamin C intake and the risk of developing skin cancer: women who ate a lot had a 50 percent lower chance of developing the cancer in the 20s.
The vitamin C supplement, she said, could help the body maintain healthy, youthful skin.