A recent study is highlighting more potential benefits of vitamin C. Researchers from the University of Colorado, Boulder say that daily vitamin C supplements may improve health in much the same way that regular exercise does.
“Vitamin C doesn’t benefit the heart, but rather vascular health,” says Caitlin Dow, Ph.D., a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Colorado, Boulder.
The details come back to a protein called endothelin-1, which causes constriction of the blood vessels. Researchers note that overweight and obese people demonstrate elevated activity of this protein.
“Our study indicates that vitamin C is as effective as exercise at reducing endothelin-1 system activity,” says Dow. “[O]veractivity of endothelin-1, which occurs in overweight and obese people, is linked to the development of cardiovascular disease.”
Does this mean that overweight folks should add vitamin C to their exercise regimen? Unfortunately, this study didn’t test these two factors in conjunction with one another. However, Dow does hypothesize that adding vitamin C to the exercise mix would not have any additive benefit.
“Both exercise and vitamin C reduced endothelin-1 activity to the levels that we have previously shown in normal-weight adults, so there isn’t much room for improvement beyond that,” Dow adds.
But if exercise isn’t an option because of an injury or other reason, Dow says that vitamin C could be a cost-effective lifestyle strategy.
“However, regular aerobic activity is still the gold standard for influencing cardiovascular risk, and that is what we continue to recommend for people who are able to exercise,” she says.
Vitamin C has long been associated with other positive health benefits. According to the National Institutes of Health, it plays an important part in wound healing. One 2013 study even found vitamin C to kill off tuberculosis bacteria in a lab cultures. While many say it has immune-boosting power, Harvard Medical School reports that experts still lack solid evidence to support this idea.