December 19, 2018
Does Taking Vitamin C Have the Same Benefits as Exercise?
September 10, 2015
Vitamin C isn't just good for brighter skin. It may also improve your heart health. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Colorado, Boulder, found that when overweight or obese adults took 500 milligrams of a time-released vitamin C supplement daily, their levels of endothelin-1 (ET-1)—a protein responsible for constriction of the arteries—were reduced to levels similar to those they would have if they had walked briskly for 40 to 60 minutes five to seven days a week.
"We know that ET-1 is elevated in people with obesity and can increase risk for developing hypertension, heart failure, and heart attacks," says Caitlin Dow, one of the study researchers and a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Colorado, Boulder. "[The supplement] was as effective as exercise at improving this one measure of vascular function."
However, Dow does warn against making broad implications at this stage of the game. "We still don't really know why vitamin C provides the same benefits as exercise," says Dow. "Both reduce ET-1 system activity, but the exact mechanism is not clear. Some previous work indicates that ET-1 production increases in response to oxidative stress. So, it's plausible that because vitamin C is an antioxidant, and exercise has been known to improve the body's ability to handle oxidative stressors, both modalities reduce oxidative stress."
And since this study included only 35 subjects and examined only one specific lifestyle-intervention system in obese people, Dow says exercise is still the best route. "It influences pretty much every system in the body," she says. But, if exercising isn't an option due to an injury, vitamin C can be a helpful substitute throughout the healing process.
W. O. Belfield, Jr.