What About Vitamin C Replacing Exercise?

I don’t know if you saw any of them but in early September stories started circulating about vitamin C  being used successfully as a substitute for exercise, having similar cardiovascular benefits as regular exercise in adults.

athletic runner's shape made out of vitamin pills

The LA Times carried the story from the 14th International Conference on Endothelin: Physiology, Pathophysiology and Therapeutics.

According to an American Physiological Society press release, “Overweight and obese adults are advised to exercise to improve their health, but more than 50 percent do not do so….

“The blood vessels of overweight and obese adults have elevated activity of the small vessel-constricting protein endothelin (ET)-1. Because of the high ET-1 activity, these vessels are more prone to constricting, becoming less responsive to blood flow demand and increasing risk of developing vascular disease. Exercise has been shown to reduce ET-1 activity, but incorporating an exercise regimen into a daily routine can be challenging. This study, conducted at the University of Colorado, Boulder, examined whether vitamin C supplements, which have been reported to improve vessel function, can also lower ET-1 activity. The researchers found that daily supplementation of vitamin C (500 mg/day, time-released) reduced ET-1-related vessel constriction as much as walking for exercise did. Vitamin C supplementation represents an effective lifestyle strategy for reducing ET-1-mediated vessel constriction in overweight and obese adults, the researchers wrote.

“Caitlin Dow, PhD, postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Colorado, Boulder, presented “Vitamin C Supplementation Reduces ET-1 System Activity in Overweight and Obese Adults” Friday, September 4.

As a believer in the mantra, eat less; move more; live longer, I was extremely skeptical. Taking a pill doesn’t work muscles or create movement which our bodies must have to remain healthy. But, I am not a doctor, nor do I mean to play one writing this blog.

So, I was pleased to see that Peter Lipson of Forbes, shared my skepticism. He wrote, “This was a report at a conference. If the study is ever published I look forward to seeing more details, but not as a clinician. As a doctor who has an interest in physiology, this stuff sounds really cool. But it is just a tiny study, with no clinical significance of any kind. To be clinically significant, it would have to be a much larger study, it would need a control group of subjects who did not get exercise or vitamin C, and it would have to measure a clinically relevant outcome, something like blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes–something that would tell us if the findings can help real patients.

“The only way to decrease the risks of being sedentary and obese is to eat healthier and to get moving.”




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4 responses to “What About Vitamin C Replacing Exercise?

  1. I used to have a stress related adrenaline problem that led to stress on my heart. Put simply, my heart hurt. One thing fixes that, well two things. A 5k run or 16 miles on my bike. Haven’t had one issue in the four years I’ve been cycling.

    Liked by 1 person

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