Could Vitamin C replace the need to exercise?

Taking a daily Vitamin C supplement may be as effective as regular exercise in improving the cardiovascular health of overweight and obese people, according to a recent study.

Scientists at the University of Colorado focused their research on the presence of a small vessel-constricting protein called endothelin (ET)-1, which is known to be more active in the blood vessels of people who are obese or overweight. When the blood vessels constrict or narrow it hampers the body’s ability to respond to changing demands on blood flow, which can lead to heart attacks, high blood pressure, strokes and even heart failure. An over-activity of ET-1 therefore increases the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

A total of 35 sedentary overweight or obese adults took part in the study – 20 participants took a daily Vitamin C supplement and the remaining 15 undertook daily aerobic activity over a three month period.

Researchers compared the results and found that taking a 500mg supplement of Vitamin C each day reduced ET-1 related vessel constrictions just as much as walking did. However, it should be borne in mind that the results apply only to obese or overweight adults and that the study included only a very small sample of participants.

Furthermore the research didn’t look at the benefits of exercise beyond lowering blood pressure, such as reducing cholesterol or strengthening the health of the heart itself. Neither did it show that those participants who regularly took Vitamin C showed any weight loss.

However, the research did highlight that rather than being a replacement for exercise, Vitamin C is a useful alternative for obese and overweight adults who cannot exercise.


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