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Does vitamin C benefit cardiovascular health as effectively as exercise in overweight people?

Does vitamin C benefit cardiovascular health as effectively as exercise in overweight people?Apparently so, according to a study that reveals how supplements of vitamin C reduce vasoconstriction in overweight individuals who, because of an increased tendency to this problem, have an elevated risk of cardiovascular ailments.

The aim of the study was to investigate the effect of vitamin C and exercise on a protein called endothelin-1, which has a vasoconstrictive effect. Overweight people have elevated levels of this protein, causing constriction of the small blood vessels and, subsequently, impairment of blood flow and circulation with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease.

Caitlin Dow, Ph.D, headed the study, in which 35 overweight/obese adults were divided into two groups. One group took 500 mg of vitamin C daily for three months, while the members from the other group were instructed to go for a walk every day during the same period. The researchers observed how the vitamin C supplements reduced endothelin-1-induced vasoconstriction every bit as effectively as exercise.

It is well-known that exercise has cardiovascular benefits. Nonetheless, many overweight people find it difficult to motivate themselves to exercise on a daily basis. According to Caitlin and her research colleagues, taking vitamin C supplements may be a more realistic approach for these individuals, although choosing one option should not necessarily rule out the other.

Facts about vitamin C and supplements

Good sources of vitamin C are fruit and berries plus vegetables such as kale, bell pepper, spinach, garlic, and herbs. The highest levels of vitamin C are found in fresh produce.

When taking supplements, it is best to choose non-acidic supplements.

Supplements with 500-750 mg of vitamin C contain as much vitamin C as 10-15 oranges or 50-75 apples.


Savannah, GA. Vitamin C: The Exercise Replacement? The American Physiological Society Press Release. 2015

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