Whether or not you strength train or are into muscle building, most of us are aware of the vital importance of protein when it comes to muscle building and maintenance.
An entire industry of protein powders and protein snacks is thriving due to that common knowledge.
The question is, should vitamin C enter the fray?
The answer may be a resounding “yes”.
In The Journal of Nutrition, researchers from University of East Anglia and University of Cambridge published some fascinating research into the correlation between vitamin C intake and vitamin C circulation with skeletal muscle mass in middle-aged and older individuals (42 – 82 years old).
The researchers found the more dietary vitamin C that was consumed, the greater the participants’ skeletal muscle mass was. Using a metric called fat-free mass (FFM), a common metric to refer to muscle mass in terms of body composition, they compared the study subjects by quintile (groupings of one-fifth of participants), with quintile 1 indicating the least vitamin c consumed and quintile 5 the most.
To better visualize this, the below chart shows the difference in FFM by quintile, using the data obtained from their cohort of over 13,000 men and women in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition–Norfolk cohort (Group A represents men and Group B represents women):
It is pretty clear to see the increase in muscle mass as Vitamin C intake increases.
Even more stark, however, is the difference found between those who consume an insufficient amount of vitamin C versus those who consume a sufficient amount. Again, Group A represents men and Group B represents women:
Even though the results from this study have come in clearly in favor of vitamin C, it is important to note that source and quantity matters.
Excessive vitamin C, when not consumed in whole food form, can cause gastrointestinal distress, or perhaps more.
It is important to get vitamin C from whole food sources whenever possible, and to find whole food-based vitamin supplements should supplementation be necessary.
A couple of my favorites are Dr. Schulze’s Super-C Plus as well as Garden of Life’s Vitamin Code Raw Vitamin C, which is more easily found in stores.
The vitamin and supplement market is improving by leaps and bounds every day, though, so there are other good choices out there. Do your due diligence and pick out what is right for you, should you be in the market.
It is also important to note that this information is provided for informational purposes only and is not advice for your specific situation. Talk to your licensed health care professional before starting any diet, supplement, treatment, exercise, or wellness program to be sure it is right and safe for you.
And in the meantime, continue on in your pursuit of great!
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