The benefits of Vitamin C are many: Protection against immune system deficiencies, cardiovascular disease, eye problems, prenatal health issues, eye disease, and even skin wrinkling. But recent research seems to indicate that daily vitamin C supplements could have cardiovascular benefits similar to regular exercise for overweight and obese adults.

Overweight and obese adults show an elevated activity of endothelin, (ET)-1, a small vessel-constricting protein. This high activity of ET-1 makes their blood vessels more prone to becoming less responsive to blood flow demand and constricting, upping the risk of vascular disease.

The new study, conducted by researchers at University of Colorado, Boulder, found that when overweight or obese adults took 500 mg of a time-released vitamin C supplement daily, their levels of endothelin-1 were reduced to levels similar to those had they walked briskly for 40 to 60 minutes five to seven days a week. ET-1 is a protein that’s responsible for constriction of the arteries.

The researchers have said that vitamin C supplementation “represents an effective lifestyle strategy for reducing ET-1–mediated vessel constriction in overweight and obese adults”.

But that doesn’t mean that you sink back into your couch morning and evening, shunning all exercise. The findings of the study involve a very specific physiologic pathway in a very specific subset of people – the obese and the overweight. Much more research is needed before healthcare professionals can decide making vitamin C a part of treatment plans.

That said, upping your vitamin C intake isn’t likely to do you any harm, if supplemented with exercise. So get your daily dose. It is essential to consume ample vitamin-C rich foods each day since the vitamin is water soluble and not much is stored in the body. The recommended requirement in adults is 40mg per day. Excessive intake, overshooting 1,000 mg, can have harmful effects and may lead to stomach pain and diarrhoea. Put the following on your plate to enjoy the benefits of vitamin C: citrus fruits, red bell pepper, broccoli, papaya, strawberries, guava, gooseberries, cauliflower, pineapple, kiwi and tomatoes.

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