Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Vitamin C: It's Not Just for Scurvy Anymore

This time of year we tend to increase our intake of Vitamin C because we've always been told that it can boost our immune system and ward off a cold.   However, we'd be better off if we added more Vitamin C to our diets year round.  Two reasons:  One - It can help us live a longer, healthier life and Two -It can help us look better as we age.

First let's look at the health benefits:

Vitamin C is a powerful immune-boosting antioxidant that is absolutely vital to our good health, but our bodies cannot store it so it needs to come from our daily diet or from supplements.  Vitamin C fights carcinogenic free radicals, protects DNA from being damaged and can prevent hardening of the arteries.  It can also promote healing of all body cells, help detoxify our bodies, keep our gums healthy, combat stress, act as an anti-depressant and surprisingly, so much more!  Nobel prize winner, Dr. Linus Pauling, said we could add 12-18 years to our lives if we took 3-12 grams (3,000 - 12,000 milligrams) of Vitamin C daily.  He himself claimed to have lived an extra 20 years because of all the Vitamin C he took everyday.

Now let's look at it's beauty properties:

Vitamin C helps to produce natural collagen, which helps the skin to retain elasticity, and keeps our skin radiant and youthful.  As we age, the collagen in our skin breaks down causing wrinkles and sagging.  While there are many factors other than age that can cause our skin to wrinkle and sag (like too much sugar, alcohol or smoking), the good news is Vitamin C can actually reverse  some of these signs of aging.   Some studies suggest that people who eat foods rich in Vitamin C have less wrinkles (because of its collagen building properties) and less age-related dry skin compared to those whose diets contain small amounts of Vitamin C.  Other studies say ingesting large amounts of Vitamin C does little to get rid of your wrinkles and that it's best to look for a skin treatment that includes Vitamin C.

Since the jury is still out, I'm doing both by exceeding the Recommended Dietary Allowance of Vitamin C (a mere 70-90 milligrams a day) by taking the suggested daily recommendation for longevity and optimal health which is 1,000 - 3,000 milligrams.   I also use cleansing and moisturizing products with Vitamin C.  For a while now I've been using (and loving) Avalon Organics' Vitamin C line which is affordable and available at Target, and has a wonderful orange scent to it.

The best way to get your Vitamin C is through your food; raw red peppers, orange juice, kiwifruit, broccoli - are all excellent sources of Vitamin C but to get to 3,000 mg, you'd be eating more red peppers and broccoli than humanly possible in a 24 hour period.  To ensure that I'm getting the amount I want, I take an Emergen-C packet daily which has 1,000 milligrams of Vitamin C plus a lot of great B-complex vitamins in it to boot.  I also take two 1,000 milligram Vitamin C tablets a day.  This way when a new study comes out that confirms you really can get rid of wrinkles with large amounts of Vitamin C, I'll be ahead of the game...and who knows, with copious amounts of Vitamin C, I could still be around then.

"The Greatest Wealth is Health" - Roman Poet Virgil

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Olive Oil, Honey & Egg Yolk Facial Mask

   I love the way my skin feels and looks after getting a spa facial but I don't like having to pay a king's ransom to get one.  Therefore in my search for an inexpensive alternative, I've been making this one at home for years.  With just three simple ingredients that you'd be hard-pressed not to find in your kitchen, you've got the makings for a fabulous, moisturizing facial mask.
   I am a firm believer that to achieve healthy, glowing skin so much more depends on what you put in your mouth than what you put on your face which is why I love this easy, inexpensive mask recipe.  You don't have to spend a lot of money on expensive creams and lotions as long as you're feeding your body with proper nutrition, foods that give you a natural, healthy glow and keep you well-hydrated.  However, sometimes we need a little extra help in the "glowing" department so it's nice to know we can pamper ourselves naturally with something we can easily whip up at home.
   First, here are the benefits of the three ingredients:
   Egg Yolk - Eating egg yolks can make your skin smooth and help preserve your skin's elasticity.  When applied to your face, the egg yolk will help remove oil and dirt from your skin and will also help to make the mask smooth and creamy when you apply it to your face.
   Honey -  Honey has been used for ages as an anti-bacterial agent - you can put honey on an open wound and it will heal faster.  Using honey in the mask will gently clean your skin, making it healthy and supple by killing germs and reducing swelling and inflammation.
   Olive Oil - is there anything it can't do?  It truly is the elixir of  the Gods.  Sophia Loren is said to bathe in the stuff as well as ingest two tablespoons a day (neat) which has been attributed to her ageless beauty.  You can remove your eye make-up with olive oil, use it as a night cream and an all-over skin and hair moisturizer.  In this mask, the olive oil will nourish and clean your skin, and will easily rinse away leaving your skin moisturized and glowing.

1.)  Separate one egg  - using only the yolk - in a small bowl or ramekin
2.)  Add 1 teaspoon of honey and 1 teaspoon of olive oil
3.)  Mix until combined and smooth;  apply to a clean face.  Rest with it on your face for about 15 minutes then rinse with warm water.  I like to do this mask right before a shower because it can get kind of sticky and hard to get out of your hair. 
   Your skin will be well-moisturized, smooth and glowing.  You can store the extra mask in the refrigerator for about a week or so and use it as often as you like.
    “Beauty is how you feel inside, and it reflects in your eyes. It is not something physical.”  - Sophia Loren