Does Vitamin C have benefits on skin whitening purpose?

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31 Jul 2016 - General


As a healthcare professional we know that medical science is a constantly updated field. We also know that most oral supplements that exist in the market have already exceeded the USFDA recommendation (60mg /day) but is somehow still widely consumed by patients orally without much complains or complications.

The indication for skin whitening is quite common in Asian countries, and due to lack of demand in the western developed nations, there are lack of studies or interested party to fund for clinical trials to study the benefit vs risk of Vitamin C for skin whitening. The dose that is given also varies.

 I wonder what runs through the mind of the prescriber to recommend the dosage for whitening level. Does 10gm IV bolus or in drips ( 10000mg - 167 times of daily allowance) provide Level 1 whitening and so on so forth ? What guidelines exist  ? 

Reports have indicated that unqualified beautician who sets IV drips and even some qualified medical practitioner are using doses up to 60gm of IV bolus ! 

IV potency and the dose used should not be regarded just as safe and with much disregard to the Recommended Daily Allowance or even the safety dose as the IV dose is in the quantum of 10,000 whereas highest oral consumed are in 1000 !

When do we know Vitamin C works? 

When the patient is admitted for acute renal failure - we will know.

IV dose of large boluses (45-60g) that are given resulted in development of reversible tubulointerstitial nephritis and possible renal failure.1-2

In summary, should we prescribe or administer the IV ?

Perhaps if they are vain scurvy pirates from a desolated island and is in desperate need to have fair skin - but then again we may as well provide dialysis for them !

First do no harm...





  1.  Rathi S, Kern W, Lau K Vitamin C-induced hyperoxaluria causing reversible tubulointerstitial nephritis and chronic renal failure: a case report . J Med Case Rep. (2007)
  2.  Mashour S, Turner JF Jr, Merrell R Acute renal failure, oxalosis, and vitamin C supplementation: a case report and review of the literature . Chest. (2000)


Is it possible to change from a Fitzpatrick skin 6 to 5 or 5 to 4 etc? It is probably not possible as it is determined by your genes just like your eye color and hair color. The best way to bring it down to the lowest level of darkness will be through sun protection- both UVB and UVA. Hence sun screen and sun avoidance are the best. Treatment of facial hyperpigmentation will be a different matter as it is a pathology vis a vis location of melanin, amount of melanin produced and number of melanoc...
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