If you regularly push yourself to the limit in training, keeping your vitamin C levels topped up could bring more benefits than simply fighting oncoming colds.
Here are a few facts of how getting at least your recommended daily dose of vitamin C can help you get the best out of yourself both on the gym floor and beyond.
1. Top up to train hard
If you’re putting in hard shifts in the gym, you may need more than your Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA), which is 80-90mg for a UK adult. Not only do you lose vitamin C when you sweat but it’s also a crucial nutritional component to help fight fatigue, reduce oxidative stress and speed up recovery after workouts.
As the body can’t make or store vitamin C, if you fail to get your daily dose from food or supplements, the signs of deficiency can appear after just a few weeks. Keeping on top of your intake is especially important for athletes, as studies have shown it can potentially cut the frequency of colds by 50%.
2. Don’t over do it
Before you start super-dosing yourself with vitamin C, however, it’s important to be aware that more isn’t necessarily better for every activity. Too much of the good stuff could actually work against some fitness goals.
Studies suggest that taking larger quantities of supplementary vitamin C, such as 1,000mg daily, may actually interfere with training. The researchers suggested that getting 200mg through five or more servings of fruit (such as kiwis, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries and blueberries as well as citrus) and vegetables (think kale, broccoli, tomatoes and sweet potatoes) would be enough to unlock the wider health benefits without affecting your gains.
3. Build back stronger
Protein tends to grab the post-workout recovery headlines, but vitamin C plays an important role in helping you rebuild and recuperate too. For a start, it supports protein metabolism – vital for growth and repair. So if you’re religious about hitting your post-workout protein window, getting enough vitamin C will help your body make the most of that shake or meal.
It also helps form collagen – the glue that strengthens connective tissues, essential for healthy tendons and muscles – and helps reverse exercise-induced oxidative stress, which can cause cell damage and slow recovery.
4. Defy the DOMS
Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is often hailed as a sign that you’ve worked your body well during a session. But what you really want after a tough workout is a quick, effective, pain-free recovery that lets you train again when you want. Vitamin C can help here too – research has revealed that increased intake before and after exercise can reduce muscle soreness.
With a well-balanced diet, it’s easy to hit your RDA and reap the rewards.