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Blog posts tagged in elastin

Vitamin C and its relationship to Anti-Ageing products Part 1.


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Vitamin C and its relationship to Anti-Ageing products.

Background, Technical study paper Part 1


Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is a powerful antioxidant. It neutralises free radicals caused by sun exposure. Radicals are molecules with unpaired electrons. They are very harmful to the body as a result of their high reactivity. This type of reactivity may induce mutations and possibly cancer. Vitamin C, being an excellent source of electrons, can therefore donate electrons to free radicals such as hydroxyls and superoxides and “quench” their reactivity. Ascorbic acid may be sourced through many fruits and vegetables, some of which contain significantly higher levels of vitamin C than others, for example kakadu plum, papaya as well as vegetables such as broccoli and brussel sprouts.

The name ascorbic acid derives from the Latin of a-, meaning “no” and scorbutus, meaning “scurvy”, a disease caused through the lack of vitamin C. This disease potentially ranks as the second most important nutritional deficiency, after protein-calorie malnutrition. Scurvy, once common among sailors, causes bleeding and inflamed gums, loose teeth, poor wound healing, pain in the joints, muscle wasting and more.


 Ascorbic acid structure                                     Ascorbic acid ball figure

Figure 1 A simple schematic and ball diagram of L-Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C)1

The structure of vitamin C is simple (see Figure 1) and resembles a monosaccharide as it is derived from glucose. Most animals are able to synthesize ascorbic acid. Only primates, guinea pigs, and some fruit bats have lost the ability to synthesize it.

Ascorbic acid is a vitamin and vitamins are organic molecules that mainly function as catalysts for reactions in the body. Catalysts are substances that lower the energy and time necessary for the progress of a chemical reaction. Under normal circumstances these reactions may, in most cases, take considerable time and energy to achieve completion.


Vitamin C is water-soluble and very important to all humans because it is vital for the production of collagen. Inside the cell, it helps form a precursor molecule called "procollagen" that is later packaged and modified into collagen outside the cell. Collagen (refer to blog “The role of collagen and elastin”) is a gluelike substance that binds cells together to form tissues.

It is the most abundant of the fibres contained in connective tissues. Connective tissue gives the human body form and supports its organs.2  Collagen production increases skin thickness and density causing a plumping effect thus decreasing the appearance of wrinkles. Elastin is responsible for skin elasticity and for the repair of temporary creases.

Vitamin C is the only antioxidant that has been proven to stimulate collagen production. Linus Pauling wrote about the connection between vitamin C and collagen in 1986.3 His theory was that it would be beneficial for the body to absorb masses of amounts of the vitamin C in order to properly combat the effects of influenza and other ailments. This just happens to be a slight exaggeration on his part but in essence there is definite merit to his theory.

A molecule of ascorbic acid is much easier to absorb through the outer skin than proteins such as collagen and elastin. A major problem though with the ascorbic acid is that when it comes in contact with water it hydrolyses and breaks down to a straight chain sugar molecule as shown in the reaction in figure 2. Water will therefore divide the vitamin C molecule up into a glucose-type straight chain molecule and thereby render it useless for its intended purpose.

Vitamin C is also important in that it helps protect the fat-soluble vitamin A, as well as fatty acids from oxidation. A symbiotic combination of vitamins C and E results in a more powerful anti-oxidant than the vitamins on their own.

 Ascorbic stick for reaction with water      Glucose from vitamin c

Figure 2 Reaction of water with L-ascorbic acid


Simply eating a large amount of fruit to absorb the vitamin C does not facilitate a proper use of the molecule. A small amount of the vitamin may enter the blood stream. It then needs to somehow reach the designated areas where collagen build up is necessary. This method is therefore too unreliable to be properly effective.

Rubbing dry L-ascorbic acid on the skin achieves very little except to irritate the skin. Vitamin C is an acid and therefore can have the same effects as that of alpha hydroxy acids (AHA, see Ortrons easlier blog on this topic)

Somehow the vitamin C needs to be "placed" under the skin to where the collagen and elastin are formed. Injecting the product is very invasive and not necessarily achieving its intended function.

Firstly in order for vitamin C to reach specific areas under the skin of the body, it needs to be micronised thereby reducing the particle size and increasing its reactive surface area and solubilisation. This particle reduction enhances skin penetration. The micronisation is carried out in an oil medium in conjunction with the vitamin C which helps to prevent  molecular decomposition. This decomposition occurs through the heat generated while reducing the particle size. The other purpose of the oil is to coat the reduced particle hence reducing the likelihood of absorption of moisture from the air which leads to decomposition. This admixture can then be used in a skin care formulation cream which enables delivery of the vitamin C through the skin to the areas where it is needed.

There are many vitamin C creams on the market but very few actually achieve the desired results.


A debate exists over the anticancer properties of vitamin C. However, current evidence suggests that the major benefit of ascorbic acid with regard to cancer may be in reducing the risk of developing cancer, rather than in therapy. Vitamin C can work inside the cells to protect DNA (DeoxyriboNucleic Acid), the hereditary material in cells, from the damage caused by free radicals. Also, it can reduce the development of nitrosamines (amines linked to the NO group) from nitrates, chemicals that are commonly used in processed foods. Once formed, nitrosamine can become carcinogenic (cancer-causing).4

Part 2 of this study on vitamin C will be examining current methods of delivering the active ingredient vitamin C to areas where it is needed compared to the patented specialty skin care cream, the Transdermal Delivery system™.

The article will be titled “The development of TRANCEED ™ and the unique transdermal delivery system technology, Technical study paper Part 2”.

This article highlights how advanced Ortron has progressed ahead of the market in respect to skincare manufacture and product development and research, in particular regarding the exclusive patented products. These skin care products cater for the more boutique small businesses that wish to market a value added product which currently have no rivals.

1 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:L-Ascorbic_acid.svg
2 http://www.chemistryexplained.com/Ar-Bo/Ascorbic-Acid.html#ixzz3FzsqY71L
3 http://www.vitamincfoundation.org/collagen.html
4 http://www.chemistryexplained.com/Ar-Bo/Ascorbic-Acid.html#ixzz3FzsqY71L

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What is the role of collagen and elastin and do these type of creams really work?

In order to understand what collagen and elastin do, we must first understand;

  1.   what these molecules are and;

  2.   what are their functions in the skin.

What is collagen and elastin?
Wikipedia edition June 2014 quotes that:
Collagen is the main structural protein of the various connective tissues in animals. As the main component of connective tissue, it is the most abundant protein in mammals, making up from 25% to 35% of the whole-body protein content. Collagen, in the form of elongated fibrils, is mostly found in fibrous tissues such as tendons, ligaments and skin, and is also abundant in corneas, cartilage, bones, blood vessels, the gut, and intervertebral discs. The fibroblast is the most common cell that creates collagen.
Elastin is a protein in connective tissue that is elastic and allows many tissues in the body to resume their shape after stretching or contracting. Elastin helps skin to return to its original position when it is poked or pinched. Elastin is also an important load-bearing tissue in the bodies of vertebrates and used in places where mechanical energy is required to be stored. In humans, elastin is encoded by the ELN gene

Figure 1 of the skin structure in relation to the effects of collagen and elastin 1

What is the function of these molecules in the skin?
In essence we note that the role of these molecules is to act like a “spring” so as to return the plumpness in the skin. When you visualise the skin surface having folds and crevices (as seen in the above schematic diagram), then the role of the collagen and elastin is to “push” these creases out from the inside in order to reverse the aging process. This naturally happens in young skin when it is pinched or distorted in some way.
Unfortunately, as we get older that “springiness” in our collagen and elastin start to break down and cannot function well to prevent the signs of aging. These molecule then become stiff and brittle.
Following is a detailed description taken from the website for The Dermal Institute (Postgraduate Education in Skin and Body Therapy) of an article “Structural Changes Associated with Aging Skin” by Dr. Diana Howard 2
“Breakdown of Collagen and Elastin
The majority of age-dependent changes that occur in our skin happen in the dermis, which can lose from 20-80% of its thickness during the aging process. This is the result of changes in the fibroblasts, the cells responsible for collagen, elastin and glycosaminoglycan (GAG) biosynthesis. Not only is the collagen and elastin produced at a slower rate, which impacts the skin’s inability to repair itself, but the organization of the protein also changes, affecting the skin’s structure.
The breakdown of collagen and elastin is controlled by the activity of Matrix Metalloproteinase (MMP) enzymes known as collagenase and elastase, respectively. Studies have shown that UV radiation activates these enzymes within hours of UVB exposure. Long-term elevation of the MMPs, which is typically found in people with prolonged exposure to sunlight, results in disorganized and clumped collagen and elastin that is characteristic of photodamaged skin.
Changes in elastin fibers are so characteristic in photoaged skin that the condition known as elastosis is considered a hallmark of photoaged skin. This is characterized by an accumulation of amorphous elastin protein and a breakdown in the typical structural layout, which results in decreased skin elasticity and tensile strength. This phenomenon accounts for why more mature skin takes longer to assume its original position when extended or pulled.”

So what can be done to repair the collagen and elastin in the skin?
There are many collagen and elastin skincare creams on the market that claim to help stabilise the collagen and elastin levels in the skin. These creams contain the molecules. Only problem is that for these elements to have any effect they must be somehow “placed” under the skin as shown in the following picture.

Figure 2 Simplified model of collagen and elastin 3

These proteins do not travel through the skin and so there is some doubt cast over these claims. At best these creams would only help to “fill in the nooks and crannies” on the skin, much like spakfilla does in the cracks and holes in a wall. These creams help to bridge across the crevices but unfortunately once the cream dries out on the skin, then the creases reappear to then have to undergo the same procedure again.

Needling is another method to repair the creases but this method is painful and invasive. This method is not always a guarantee of success.
The only effective way of rebuilding the collagen and elastin under the outer skin layer is to allow the body the ability to naturally fabricate it. This is what normally happens in the body when it is young but diminishes with age. One of the recognised methods to do this is by use of vitamin C (ascorbic acid). 4
An article presented in the NYU Langone Medical Centre website, showed that apart from using alpha-lipoic acid or other anti-oxidants have shown that:
A small, 3-month, double-blind, placebo-controlled study found benefit with a cream containing 5% alpha-lipoic acid . Use of this antioxidant substance improved several measures of aging skin as compared to placebo, especially skin roughness. Benefits have also been seen in preliminary studies with a cream containing vitamin C .”
Antioxidants are substances that neutralise free radicals. These free radicals are created by ultraviolet light from the sun. They are naturally occurring substances that can harm many tissues of the body, including the skin. 5

Vitamin C is a powerful, naturally occurring anti-oxidant that acts as a trigger mechanism for the body to rebuild the 2 proteins in the area where the ascorbic acid is present. Any topical oil in water cream applications will not have many benefits because ascorbic acid is easily hydrolysed when in contact with water and so is very unstable. The molecule readily undergoes breakdown to form inefficacious hydrolised by-products.

Using derivatives of ascorbic acid, such as ascorbyl palmitate, will give little results because these types of molecules are too strongly bound for the body to be able to break down to yield the useful acid form. Too much energy is necessary to be able to break the molecule to the acid form of the vitamin C.
So the only problem remains is how to transport the vitamin C to the areas where it is needed namely under the subcutaneous layer of the skin?

This will be discussed in the next  blog on “Vitamin C and its relationship to Anti-Ageing products.



1 http://rankines.com/CUSTOMER%20CARE/SKIN_INFO/files/Collagen-Elastin-Production.png
2 http://www.dermalinstitute.com/au/library/11_article_Structural_Changes_Associated_with_Aging_Skin.html
3 http://www.wrinkletreatment.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/collagen_elastin.jpg
4 http://www.med.nyu.edu/content?ChunkIID=38389
5 http://www.med.nyu.edu/content?ChunkIID=38389

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