Vitamin C is a very powerful antioxidant. It has the ability to remove free radicals from the body and prevent oxidative stress on our tissues and organs. It is also involved in many cellular processes in the body. Vitamin C is involved in collagen synthesis which aids in wound healing as well as anti-aging. We will be discussing vitamin C and its role in wound healing and bone health.
There are a number of symptoms that vitamin C deficiency causes, a few of them are: 
- Bone pain
- Impaired wound healing
Vitamin C is important for oral health, bone formation, and wound healing. It is also imperative for skin health, anti-aging, skin hyperpigmentation, and much more.
Vitamin C and its role in Wound Healing
Wound healing is an important complex process that maintains the integrity of the tissue after trauma. The wound healing process involves a number of overlapping wound healing phases, that involve chemical signals and accumulation of various cells.
Vitamin C is an essential nutrient for the synthesis of collagen, proteoglycans, and other components of the intracellular matrix of tissues such as bone, skin, capillary walls, and other connective tissues .
- proteoglycans – is a protein that gives hydration and swelling pressure to tissues (poke yourself in the cheek and feel it bounce back) that is the effect of proteoglycans in tissues.
- intracellular matrix – is the filling found in between cells, it is full of fibers and a variety of different cells, depending on where it is located in the body.
When a person is vitamin C deficient and a wound has to be healed, it causes abnormal collagen fibers and alterations of the cellular matrix that present as skin lesions and decreased strength of fibrous tissue .
Vitamin C also enhanced neutrophil function, increases angiogenesis, and is a powerful antioxidant in tissues .
Lets break down the medical terminology…
Neutrophil Function is important for wound healing because neutrophils are one of the main white blood cells that protect us from infection. When you initially get a wound, white blood cells are sent to the area that is injured in order to protect us from invaders. Skin is the first line of defense against micro organisms, we even have billions of micro organisms all over our skin, so when the skin is damaged this gives bacteria the opportunity to get into our bodies and cause damage.
Increased angiogenesis, angiogenesis is just a fancy word for the creation of new blood vessels. When your wound is healing, it is essentially redoing everything the was cut or injured, this includes blood vessels.
Powerful tissue antioxidant, Vitamin C is found in the tissues and is used as a powerful antioxidant to combat oxidative stress. Oxidative stress causes many diseases in our bodies including cancer. The way we get rid of these stressors (called ROS or free radicals) is by having enough antioxidants in our bodies to neutralize them. Every time Vitamin C neutralizes these ROS, it gets consumed. Also, white blood cells tend to release ROS when they are fighting infection, because of this we need to supplement with vitamin C. Supplementation will keep our bodies functioning optimally especially during times of inflammation.
Vitamin C and wound healing continued…
There was a study done by Hodges et al, where 4 people in the thirties and forties were depleted of vitamin c for 99 days. Doctors then made a 5 cm incision in the thigh of these volunteers (not sure who would volunteer for this) and then started giving them vitamin C to see if their wounds healed faster than ones without supplementation. The wounds with vitamin C did heal faster – Crazy study! But goes to show you that vitamin C is essential for wound healing.
We as humans lack the ability to make or store Vitamin C, because of this we need to supplement it through healthy diets and/or supplementation. There is much of our population that struggles with keeping levels of vitamin C at a healthy concentration: 
- drug users
- the elderly
- individuals with poor nutrition
- poor eating patterns
- prolonged hospitalization
- severe illness
Increase of ROS in wounds
There is a lot of data out there that shows ROS increase with times of stress on the body such as intense exercise and wound trauma. Because of this there is a need for increase tissue antioxidants in order to promote proper healing and removal of ROS. Vitamin C = antioxidant = ROS removal = proper wound healing!
There is also data that suggests the amount of vitamin C concentrations within a tissue drop dramatically after that tissue is compromised with a wound. Levels of vitamin C were compared to normal skin at 2, 4, 7, and 14 day old wounds in animals . Vitamin C levels decreased by 60% and didn’t recover until after day 14. In addition, antioxidant levels were low and free radical damage was increased. This shows the utilization of Vitamin C during wound healing process. Also, how important it is to keep our vitamin C levels up in order to properly fight wounds and infections.
Vitamin C is a necessity for collagen synthesis, antioxidant status, and immune function. This makes is so important for the wound healing process. There is data that proves low dose of vitamin C administered in people who were deficient helped wound healing, but most doctor believe high doses in people who are not deficient would pack a bigger punch when optimizing wound healing .
Vitamin C and Bone Health
Vitamin C helps bone formation by influencing cells in the bone to make new bone, these cells are called osteoblasts.
Back in the 15th century scurvy (a.k.a vitamin C deficiency) was mostly seen in people who were out at sea for a months at a time. The increase in scurvy at this time, was due to the inability to keep foods refrigerated and fresh, all their fruits and vegetables went bad after months out at sea. But recently, there has been documentation about men at sea also suffering with bone pain during times of scurvy.
Recent studies show the increased evidence of osteoporosis in people with vitamin C deficiency, this is due to decreased bone formation and increased bone destruction. Osteoporosis is when the body either doesn’t make enough bone or too much bone is getting destroyed, either way, the bones become frail and fractures easily.
Ascorbic Acid is the reduced form of Vitamin C, and it is the biologically active form in our bodies. Vitamin C has been shown to be involved in bone cell differentiation and cartilage cell differentiation. Differentiation is a fancy word for maturation. Meaning, vitamin C helps cells of the bone and cartilage mature into the cells they are supposed be .
Many species that are deficient in ascorbic acid develop bone disorders that cause spontaneous fracturing, impaired bone growth, and impaired bone healing .
And although, bone health in not totally dependent on Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid) they do believe vitamin C plays an important role in bone formation, health, and integrity of the bone.
Vitamin C is important for a number of different physiological functions in the body. It is so important to live a life of health and well-being. As we previously discussed, the population of people who are vitamin C deficient are those who are nutritionally deficient. This could be due to alcoholism, drug use, lack of nutritional food, and chronic illness.
We need vitamin C in order to keep our immune systems functioning as well as wounds healing. Collagen synthesis is not just important for wound healing but its also important for the look of youthful skin. Vitamin C has also been shown to help the cells in the bones and the cartilage fully mature.
Vitamin C is important for oral health and the prevention of peritonitis and tooth loss.
It is one of the most powerful antioxidants and it is used in various bodily tissues to get rid of reactive species, this protects us from disease and cancer.
Pretty much, vitamin C does it all. Its one of the most powerful vitamins if not THE most powerful vitamin!
Frequently Asked Questions
It would be a great idea for your sister to take vitamin C supplements. It will help her heal properly and aid in wound and bone healing. But, have her ask her doctor first just to make sure the vitamin C doesn’t interfere with any medication she is currently taking.
Again, make sure it is okay with your doctor. You can start using a vitamin C topical first until you get a response from your dermatologist. But it is definitely a good idea. Vitamin C is great for wound healing and for the health of skin!
It is possible that your bone pain is being caused by something else. Go see you primary care physician for testing. It is unlikely that you are suffering from the bone effects of scurvy in modern society unless you are severely malnourished.
Wear sunscreen everyday! Even in the winter or on cloudy days. You can also take a vitamin C supplement and use a vitamin C topical. It is important to take a vitamin C supplement in conjunction with a topical, topicals don’t always penetrate the skin as far as we would like.