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Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, January 23, 2008

Vitamins Cure Skin Conditions

(OMNS Jan 23, 2008) Skin troubles are a common, often painful problem. Topical applications of vitamin E, and/or vitamin C and niacin provide rapid relief. The first reports indicating that vitamin E, and concentrated topical and IV solutions of vitamin C were a highly effective treatment for burns surfaced over 50 years ago. Vitamins may be used to treat both thermal burns and sun burns, as well as wrinkles, pigmentation, scrapes, bug bites, and even bed sores.

Foods alone do not provide sufficient vitamins to provide maximum healing. Vitamins also provide protection against skin-aging damage caused by exposure to the sun. The benefits of vitamin C and niacin have been proven in numerous controlled clinical trials using high potency vitamin C and niacin creams. [1-9] The scientific literature contains at least 29 reports published since 2003 using niacin creams and 8 using vitamin C creams. Even before the Korean War, orthomolecular physicians were reporting topical vitamin E to be a superior treatment for burns. [10] Recent research conforms this. [11, 12]

Linus Pauling reviewed the scientific literature on burns in his book "How to Live Longer and Feel Better." In the two decades since publication of this book, claims about burns have been tested and confirmed. [13-20] One animal study confirmed that, in severely burned animals treated with IV vitamin C, high intravenous doses of vitamin C are required to optimize burn treatment, equivalent to 120,000 mg/day for a human. [21]

Vitamin skeptics continue to argue that there are no proven benefits to vitamins at doses higher than the RDA. The case of vitamins and skin conditions is a clear case proving the skeptics wrong. It is time that physicians start to put the remarkable healing powers of vitamins to work for their patients. In the meantime, the low toxicity and ready availability of vitamin supplements and creams enables the self-educated to act for themselves.


[1] Inui, Shigeki. Perifollicular pigmentation is the first target for topical vitamin C derivative ascorbyl 2-phosphate 6-palmitate (APPS): randomized, single-blinded, placebo-controlled study. Journal of Dermatology (2007), 34(3), 221-223.

[2] Humbert, Philippe G. et al. Topical ascorbic acid on photoaged skin. Clinical, topographical and ultrastructural evaluation: double-blind study vs. placebo. Experimental Dermatology (2003),12(3), 237-244.

[3] Ichihashi, Masamitsu. Effect of vitamin C on skin disease. Fragrance Journal (1997), 25(3), 29-33.

[4] Tanno, Osamu. The new efficacy of niacinamide in the skin and the application to the skin care products of cosmetics. Fragrance Journal (2004), 32(2), 35-39.

[5] Jacobson, Elaine L. et al. A topical lipophilic niacin derivative increases NAD, epidermal differentiation and barrier function in photodamaged skin. Experimental Dermatology (2007), 16(6), 490-499.

[6] Moro, Osamu. Antiaging topical formulations containing niacin and ubiquinones. Jpn. Kokai Tokkyo Koho (2005) JP 2005298370; A 20051027. Patent written in Japanese.

[7] Sore, Gabrielle; Hansenne, Isabelle. Peeling composition containing vitamin B3 and vitamin C. Fr. Demande (2005), FR 2861595; A1 20050506. Patent written in French.

[8] Evans, Erica Louise; Matts, Paul Jonathan. Skin care composition containing glycerin and a vitamin B3 compound that increase and repair skin barrier function. Eur. Pat. Appl. (2004), EP 1459736; A1 20040922. Patent written in English.

[9] Yates, Paula Rachel; Charles-Newsham, Rebecca Louise. Skin lightening compositions comprising vitamins and flavonoids. PCT Int. Appl. (2005), WO 2005094770; A1 20051013.

[10] The Vitamin E Story, by Evan Shute, M.D. James C. M. Shute, editor. Forward by Linus Pauling. (Burlington, Ontario: Welch Publishing, 1985. 219 pages, softcover.) ISBN 0-920413-04-8. links to a review published in the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine, Vol. 17, No. 3, Third Quarter, 2002, pages 179-181. A bibliography of the Shutes principal written work is posted at and

[11] Trevithick JR et al. Topical tocopherol acetate reduces post-UVB, sunburn-associated erythema, edema, and skin sensitivity in hairless mice. Arch Biochem Biophys. 1992 Aug 1;296(2):575-82.

[12] Trevithick JR et al. Reduction of sunburn damage to skin by topical application of vitamin E acetate following exposure to ultraviolet B radiation: effect of delaying application or of reducing concentration of vitamin E acetate applied. Scanning Microsc. 1993 Dec;7(4):1269-81.

[13] Dubick, Michael A. US Army Institute of Surgical Research, San Antonio, TX, USA. A review of the use of high dose vitamin C for the treatment of burns. Recent Research Developments in Nutrition Research (2000), 3:141-156.

[14] McGregor, Gerard P.; Biesalski, Hans K. Rationale and impact of vitamin C in clinical nutrition. Current opinion in clinical nutrition and metabolic care (2006), 9(6), 697-703.

[15] Berger, M. M. Nutrients as antioxidants - effect of antioxidative trace elements and vitamins on outcome of critically ill burns and trauma patients. Aktuelle Ernaehrungsmedizin (2003), 28(6), 376-379.

[16] Horton, Jureta W. et al. Antioxidant vitamin therapy alters burn trauma-mediated cardiac NF- B activation and cardiomyocyte cytokine secretion. Journal of Trauma: Injury, Infection, and Critical Care (2001), 50(3), 397-408.

[17] Arslan, Emrah et al. The additive effects of carnitine and ascorbic acid on distally burned dorsal skin . . . Medical Science Monitor (2005), 11(6), BR176-BR180.

[18] Wang, Ying et al. Effect of early nutritional support on plasma superoxide dismutase, malondialdehyde and nitric oxide . . . with burns in a hot and humid environment. Diyi Junyi Daxue Xuebao (2005), 25(1), 93-95.

[19] Sakurai, Masaru et al. Reduced resuscitation fluid volume for second-degree experimental burns with delayed initiation of vitamin C therapy (beginning 6 h after injury). Journal of Surgical Research (1997), 73(1), 24-27.

[20] Boyce, Steven T. et al. Vitamin C regulates keratinocyte viability, epidermal barrier, and basement membrane in vitro, and reduces wound contraction after grafting of cultured skin substitutes. Journal of Investigative Dermatology (2002), 118(4), 565-572.

[21] Dubick, Michael A. et al. U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research, San Antonio, TX, USA. High-dose vitamin C infusion reduces fluid requirements in the resuscitation of burn-injured sheep. Shock (2005), 24(2), 139-144.

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