Vitamin C

(Known as Ascorbic acid, Vitamin C)

tickVitamin
tickSupports the immune system
tickSuitable for detoxing
tickAids health
tickAntioxidant
How does it work?
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin needed for the growth and repair of tissues in all parts of the body. One of many antioxidants, vitamin C may block some of the damage caused by free radicals, which can contribute to the development of various health problems. It is necessary to form collagen, an important protein used to make skin, scar tissue, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels. Vitamin C is essential for the healing of wounds, and for the repair and maintenance of cartilage, bones, and teeth.
Who is it used for?
Vitamin C is essential for anyone who is healthy and wants to stay that way. It's particularly important for people who exercise regularly, and for those suffering from illness or infection.
How does it work?
The body does not manufacture vitamin C on its own, nor does it store it. That's why it's important to include plenty of vitamin C in your daily diet. Large amounts of vitamin C are used by the body during any kind of healing process, whether it's from an infection, disease, injury, or surgery. In these cases extra vitamin C may be needed.

Vitamin C is important for connective tissue repair. Although beneficial to athletes participating in a variety of sports, vitamin C is especially important to body builders whose training causes the most connective tissue damage. Vitamin C is also important to athletes because, as an antioxidant, it may help to reverse some of the oxidative damage that may occur from exercise. This oxidative damage, caused by free radicals, interferes with the cells ability to function normally and is believed to play a role in many different health conditions, including the aging process, cancer, and heart disease.

Vitamin C promotes a healthy immune system and may help to prevent the dip in immune function that can occur after exercise. In most well-controlled studies, exercise performance has not been shown to improve following supplementation with vitamin C, unless a deficiency exists, as might occur in someone trying to lose weight by following a low-calorie diet, or with unhealthy eating patterns [7, 8]. However, placebo-controlled research has shown that taking 400 to 3,000 milligrams of vitamin C per day for several days before and after intense exercise reduces pain and speeds up muscle strength recovery [3, 4, 5].

Vitamin C also appears to have a beneficial effect on cortisol levels following both resistance and aerobic exercise. Cortisol is a catabolic hormone that encourages the breakdown of muscle tissue. It's also linked with abdominal fat and various health problems, including diabetes, heart disease and depression. Cortisol may also weaken your immune system, leaving you more susceptible to illness.

A group of weightlifters, for example, consuming one gram of vitamin C daily for two weeks had lower cortisol levels 24 hours after exercise than a group using no vitamin C [10]. What's more, 500 milligrams of vitamin C daily for four weeks has also been shown to lower cortisol levels 48-hours after a 90-kilometer marathon [9].

Traditionally, vitamin C has been used to reduce the risk of "catching a cold." Since 1971, 21 studies have been carried out to establish whether vitamin C affects the common cold. In each of the 21 studies, vitamin C reduced the duration of episodes and the severity of the symptoms of the common cold by an average of 23% [1]. In one of them most recent trials, a group using vitamin C had significantly fewer colds (37 vs 50), fewer days challenged virally (85 vs 178), and a shorter duration of severe symptoms (1.8 vs 3.1 days). In other words, vitamin C users are less likely to get a cold. And if they do, they'll recover faster than people who don't use the supplement.

More recently, researchers have shown that vitamin C improves nitric oxide activity [2]. Nitric oxide acts as your body's master "cell-signalling" molecule, directing and ordering a complex array of activities. It regulates blood flow, muscle contraction, nerve signalling and muscle growth, to name just a few [6].
How do I use it?
Vitamin C is not stored in the body, so it must be replaced as it gets used. The best way to take supplements is with meals two or three times per day, depending on the dosage. Some studies suggest that adults should take between 250 milligrams and 500 milligrams twice a day for maximum benefit.
What results can I expect?
Supplementation with vitamin C offers many benefits, including fewer colds (and a shorter duration of severe symptoms), a reduction in muscle damage and soreness, and faster recovery from intense exercise.
What can it be combined with?
Vitamin C can be combined with a range of other nutrients for maximum benefit.

1. Hemila, H. (1994). Does vitamin C alleviate the symptoms of the common cold?--a review of current evidence. Scandinavian Journal of Infectious Diseases, 26, 1-6
2. Taddei S, Virdis A, Ghaidoni L, et al. Vitamin C improves endotheoium-dependent vasodilation by restoring nitric oxide activity in essential hypertension. Circulation 1998;97:2222-9
3. Jakeman P, Maxwell S. Effect of antioxidant vitamin supplementation on muscle function after eccentric exercise. Eur J Appl Physiol 1993;67:426-30
4. Kaminski M, Boal R. An effect of ascorbic acid on delayed-onset muscle soreness. Pain 1992;50:317-21
5. Thompson D, Williams C, McGregor SJ, et al. Prolonged vitamin C supplementation and recovery from demanding exercise. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab 2001;11:466-81
6. Grange RW, Isotani E, Lau KS, Kamm KE, Huang PL, Stull JT. (2001). Nitric oxide contributes to vascular smooth muscle relaxation in contracting fast-twitch muscles. Physiological Genomics, 5, 35-44
7. Johnston CS, Swan PD, Corte C. Substrate utilization and work efficiency during submaximal exercise in vitamin C depleted-repleted adults. Int J Vitam Nutr Res 1999;69:41-4
8. Gerster H. The role of vitamin C in athletic performance. J Am Coll Nutr 1989;8:636-43
9. Peters, E.M., Anderson, R., Nieman, D.C., Fickl, H., & Jogessar, V. (2001). Vitamin c supplementation attenuates the increases in circulating cortisol, adrenaline and anti-inflammatory polypeptides following ultramarathon running. International Journal of Sports Medicine, 22, 537-543
10. Marsit, J.L., Conley, M.S., Stone, M.H., Fleck, S.J., Kearney, J.T., Schirmer, G.P., Keith, R.E., Kraemer, W.J., & Johnson, R.L. (1998) Effects of ascorbic acid on serum cortisol and the testosterone:cortisol ratio in junior elite weightlifters. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 12, 179-184

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