A new study demonstrates that supplementing with vitamin C actually decreases athletic performance. Its a great study because the authors actually figured out why they got the results they did--here's the synopsis:
The researchers took a group of "healthy, sedentary men" and divided them into 2 groups. Group A did routine aerobic exercise for 8 weeks and took no supplements. Group B did the same workout program, but took 1 gram (1,000 milligrams--what you find in one "emergen-C") of vitamin C.
The researchers measured a key marker of endurance fitness called the VO2max before and after the study. Here are the results:
- The group that did not take vitamin C improved 22%
- The group that took vitamin C improved 10.8%
Put another way, the group that took the vitamin C achieved less than half of the gains that the other group experienced! The interesting part is why, and here it is in a large nutshell.
Exercise in and of itself creates free radicals. These free radicals then trigger the body to make 2 major antioxidant enzymes: superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase. These two antioxidants are incredibly powerful neutralizers of free radicals and they appear to be part of a signaling system that causes the body to make mitochondria. Mitochondria, in turn, are the "energy factories" of our cells. Increasing their numbers gives us further ability to create energy for endurance. The researchers in this study found that taking vitamin C inhibited the body's natural antioxidant pathways as well as the creation of new mitochondria. So the bottom line is: if you take vitamin C you decrease your body's natural antioxidant defense system and literally sabatage your capacity to create energy. Here's the scary part--millions of Americans are taking 1,000mg of vitamin C every day without even thinking about. We have a surge of fatigue-related diseases such as chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia. Ironically, these very populations are the ones often taking more vitamin C because they think its good for them!
Please read my Antioxidant Article to get a better understanding of how to increase your antioxidant status. You just can't substitute for whole foods! Pill-form antioxidants are killing you!
Read the study here.