Time and time again, we hear experts sing the praises of vitamin C. Why is it so incredibly essential? Well, Rianna Loving, founder of organic skincare brand ORGO Beauty, says the nutrient is responsible for creating and maintaining collagen—the "glue that holds the body together." Specifically, this antioxidant strengthens blood vessels and gives skin its elasticity and strength.
However, vitamin C is water-soluble. Meaning: Your body doesn't store or accumulate it. That's why daily intake is highly important, says Loving. Not convinced? See how a daily dose of vitamin C can improve your hair, nails, and skin:
It Promotes Hair Health
Vitamin C is one of the most effective nutrients to help grow and strengthen hair, says Loving. To give your locks a vital dose of vitamin C, blend a partially-boiled sweet potato, a half-cup of gooseberries, three strawberries, and half a small red bell pepper until you get a creamy smooth mixture. Then apply it to your scalp and hair. Leave the mask on for 15 to 25 minutes, then rinse it off with warm water.
It Makes You Look (And Feel) More Energized
In your diet, vitamin C plays a vital role in iron absorption—and iron contributes to your overall beauty and wellbeing, says Elisa Zied, author ofYounger Next Week: Your Ultimate Rx to Reverse the Clock, Boost Energy and Look and Feel Younger in 7 Days. "When you deplete your iron stores, you can develop anemia and experience fatigue and weakness," she says. "That certainly won't help you look and feel vibrant or energized."
It Promotes Nail Growth
"Vitamin C helps maintain the integrity of our nails by strengthening our skin, connective tissue, bones, and blood vessel walls," says Loving.
It Helps Prevent Hangnails
Because vitamin C strengthens nails and helps them grow, it can also prevent hangnails. Ingesting vitamin C is the best route for optimal nail health, so be sure to eat citrus fruits often.
It Wards Off Signs of Aging
A 2007 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutritionfound that middle-aged women who consumed more vitamin C from food sources appeared to have fewer wrinkles and less skin dryness. Experts suggest that vitamin C might delay the signs of aging due to free radical damage.
For a vitamin C-rich facemask, blend one kiwi and a half-cup of papaya, and apply the mixture to your face. After 15 to 20 minutes, wash it off with cold water.