Ascorbic acid or vitamin C is involved in a number of biochemical pathways that are important to exercise metabolism and the health of exercising individuals. This review reports the results of studies investigating the requirement for vitamin C with exercise on the basis of dietary vitamin C intakes, the response to supplementation and alterations in plasma, serum, and leukocyte ascorbic acid concentration following both acute exercise and regular training. The possible physiological significance of changes in ascorbic acid with exercise is also addressed. Exercise generally causes a transient increase in circulating ascorbic acid in the hours following exercise, but a decline below pre-exercise levels occurs in the days after prolonged exercise. These changes could be associated with increased exercise-induced oxidative stress. On the basis of alterations in the concentration of ascorbic acid within the blood, it remains unclear if regular exercise increases the metabolism of vitamin C. However, the similar dietary intakes and responses to supplementation between athletes and nonathletes suggest that regular exercise does not increase the requirement for vitamin C in athletes. Two novel hypotheses are put forward to explain recent findings of attenuated levels of cortisol postexercise following supplementation with high doses of vitamin C.
Jonathan M. Peake
Helaine M. Alessio, Allan H. Goldfarb, and Guohua Cao
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) was supplemented (1 g/day) for 1 day and 2 weeks in the same subjects. Plasma thiobarbituric acid reacting substances (TB ARS) and oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) before and after 30 min submaximal exercise were measured. Different vitamin C supplementations did not affect resting TB ARS or ORAC. Following 30 min exercise, values for TBARS were 12.6 and 33% above rest with 1 day and 2 weeks of vitamin C supplementation, respectively, compared to 46% higher with placebo. ORAC did not significantly change (11%) after exercise with a placebo, nor when subjects were given vitamin C supplements for 1 day or 2 weeks (4.9% and 5.73%, respectively). TBARS:ORAC, a ratio representing oxidative stress, increased 32% (p < .05) with placebo compared to 5.8 and 25.8% with vitamin C supplements for 1 day and 2 weeks, respectively. It was concluded that exercise-induced oxidative stress was highest when subjects did not supplement with vitamin C compared to either 1 day or 2 weeks of vitamin C supplementation.
Dylan Thompson, Clyde Williams, Stephen J. McGregor, Ceri W. Nicholas, Frank McArdle, Malcolm J. Jackson, and Jonathan R. Powell
The aim of the present study was to investigate whether 2 weeks of vitamin C supplementation affects recovery from an unaccustomed bout of exercise. Sixteen male subjects were allocated to either a placebo (P; n = 8) or vitamin C group (VC; n = 8). The VC group consumed 200 mg of ascorbic acid twice a day, whereas the P group consumed identical capsules containing 200 mg of lactose. Subjects performed a prolonged (90-min) intermittent shuttle-running test 14 days after supplementation began. Post-exercise serum creatine kinase activities and myoglobin concentrations were unaffected by supplementation. However, vitamin C supplementation had modest beneficial effects on muscle soreness, muscle function, and plasma concentrations of malondialdehyde. Furthermore, although plasma interleukin-6 increased immediately after exercise in both groups, values in the VC group were lower than in the P group 2 hours after exercise (p < .05). These results suggest that prolonged vitamin C supplementation has some modest beneficial effects on recovery from unaccustomed exercise.
Allan H. Goldfarb, Stephen W. Patrick, Scott Bryer, and Tongjian You
Vitamin C supplementation (VC) (either 500 or 1000 mg/d for 2 wk) was compared to a placebo treatment (P) to ascertain if VC could influence oxidative stress. Twelve healthy males (25 ± 1.4 y) were randomly assigned in a counter-balanced design with a 2-wk period between treatments. Data were analyzed using repeated measures ANOVA. Exercise intensity measures (VO2, RER, RPE, HR, lactate) were similar across treatments. Resting blood oxidative-stress markers were unaffected by treatment. Exercise decreased total blood glutathione (TGSH) and reduced glutathione (GSH) and increased oxidized glutathione (GSSG) (P < 0.01) independent of treatment. Protein carbonyls (PC) increased 3.8 fold in the P (P < 0.01). VC attenuated the PC exercise response in a dose-dependent manner (P < 0.01). Thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS) was not influenced by exercise (P = 0.68) or VC. These data suggest that VC supplementation can attenuate exercise-induced protein oxidation in a dose-dependent manner with no effect on lipid peroxidation and glutathione status.
Christian Mariacher, Hannes Gatterer, Joachim Greilberger, Radoslav Djukic, Michaela Greilberger, Marc Philippe, and Martin Burtscher
To compare the effects of a 3-week supplementation between two different mixtures of antioxidants and placebo on aerobic exercise performance in acute normobaric hypoxia.
Seventeen subjects were randomly assigned in a double-blind fashion to receive a broad-based antioxidants supplement containing beta-carotene, ascorbic acid, d-alpha-tocopherol-succinate, N-acetylcysteine, riboflavin, zinc, and selenium (antioxidant capsule group [AO group]), or a combination of alpha-ketoglutaric acid (α-KG) and 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (5-HMF; CYL concentrate supplementation group [CS group]), or placebo (PL group). Before and after supplementation, subjects performed two incremental cycle-exercise tests until exhaustion. The first test was conducted under normoxic conditions (LA, FiO2 of 20.9%, ~547 m) and the second after the 3-week supplementation period under normobaric hypoxic conditions (AHA, FiO2 of 12.9%, ~4300m).
In CS peak cycling performance (peak power) declined from LA to AHA 7.3% (90% CI: 2.2–12.4) less compared with PL (p = .04) and 6.7% (90%CI: 3.2–10.2) less compared with AO (p = .03). Better maintenance of aerobic exercise capacity in CS was associated with an attenuated reduction in maximal heart rate in hypoxia.
Aerobic exercise performance was less impaired in acute normobaric hypoxia after 3 weeks with supplementation of α-KG and 5-HMF compared with a broad-based antioxidants supplement or PL.
Penny Harris Rosenzweig and Stella L. Volpe
Iron plays an important role in thyroid hormone metabolism; thus, iron deficiency anemia may lead to alterations in resting metabolic rate (RMR). Based on this premise, two iron-deficient-anemic female athletes, 18 (A 1) and 21 (A2) years of age, were supplemented with 23 mg/day of elemental iron to assess its effects on iron and thyroid hormone status and RMR at 0, 8, and 16 weeks. Anemia was clinically corrected in both subjects (hemoglobin: Al = 11.0 to 13.0 to 12.6 g/dL and A2 = 11.5 to 13.9 to 12.6 g/dL, 0 to 8 to 16 weeks, respectively). Serum ferritin (SF) concentration also improved in both subjects (Al: 5.0 to 11.0 to 15.0 ng/dL and A2: 5.0 to 16.0 to 20.0 ng/dL; 0 to 8 to 16 weeks, respectively); however, 16 weeks of iron supplementation did not fully replete iron stores. A2 increased dietary iron and ascorbic acid intakes from 8 to 16 weeks, possibly accounting for her higher SF concentrations. RMR and total thyroxine changed over time: Al increased while A2 decreased in these variables. Although clinical correction of iron deficiency anemia occurred after 16 weeks of low-level iron supplementation, RMR and thyroid hormone metabolism were oppositely affected in the two subjects.
Andrea J. Braakhuis, Will G. Hopkins, and Timothy E. Lowe
The beneficial effects of exercise and a healthy diet are well documented in the general population but poorly understood in elite athletes. Previous research in subelite athletes suggests that regular training and an antioxidant-rich diet enhance antioxidant defenses but not performance.
To investigate whether habitual diet and/or exercise (training status or performance) affect antioxidant status in elite athletes.
Antioxidant blood biomarkers were assessed before and after a 30-min ergometer time trial in 28 male and 34 female rowers. The antioxidant blood biomarkers included ascorbic acid, uric acid, total antioxidant capacity (TAC), erythrocyte- superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase (GPx), and catalase. Rowers completed a 7-d food diary and an antioxidant-intake questionnaire. Effects of diet, training, and performance on resting biomarkers were assessed with Pearson correlations, and their effect on exercise-induced changes in blood biomarkers was assessed by a method of standardization.
With the exception of GPx, there were small to moderate increases with exercise for all markers. Blood resting TAC had a small correlation with total antioxidant intake (correlation .29; 90% confidence limits, ±.27), and the exercise-induced change in TAC had a trivial to small association with dietary antioxidant intake from vitamin C (standardized effect .19; ±.22), vegetables (.20; ±.23), and vitamin A (.25; ±.27). Most other dietary intakes had trivial associations with antioxidant biomarkers. Years of training had a small inverse correlation with TAC (−.32; ±.19) and a small association with the exercise-induced change in TAC (.27; ±.24).
Training status correlates more strongly with antioxidant status than diet does.
Austin T. Robinson, Adriana Mazzuco, Ahmad S. Sabbahi, Audrey Borghi-Silva, and Shane A. Phillips
multi-ingredient dietary preworkout supplement investigated contained a number of prodilatory compounds (e.g., nitrate and ascorbic acid), it would not adversely affect postacute exercise CV function in these recreationally active young adults. Methods Experimental Approach Testing sessions for each
Benjamin J. Narang, Greg Atkinson, Javier T. Gonzalez, and James A. Betts
of appearance relative to an alternative condition ( Matthews et al., 1990 ). For example, Vinson and Bose ( 1988 ) included a comparison of a time-to-peak summary statistic when investigating ascorbic acid bioavailability in response to the ingestion of equivalent doses of synthetic and naturally
Edgar J. Gallardo and Andrew R. Coggan
numerous other potentially biologically active compounds, including carotenoids, betalains, bioflavonoids, and ascorbic acid ( Georgiev et al., 2010 ; Wruss et al., 2015 ). Indeed, there is some evidence that BRJ may be more effective than simple NO 3 − salts at reducing muscle pain after eccentric