Cancer, Diabetes, Exercise, Fitness, Health Studies

Vitamin C as Effective as Exercise against Obesity-Related Health Complications

Physicians usually advise their overweight and obese patients to exercise daily. Despite the fact we all know exercise can improve our health, about one-third of people are not physically active (and that figure may be underestimated).  Because of poor eating habits and lack of exercise, overweight people are at an elevated risk of blood vessel constriction, and ultimately, cardiovascular disease. However, a new study indicates there may be another approach to reducing heart disease in overweight patient, supplementation with vitamin C.

Caitlin Down, Ph.D., is a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Colorado, Boulder. She was lead researcher on the vitamin C study. For three months, subjects in the study were divided into two groups. One took vitamin C supplements, and the other participated in aerobic exercise training. The subjects who took vitamin C did not lose weight, but monitoring of their forearm blood flow and their response to an intra-arterial infusion of endothelin-1 before and after each intervention showed an improvement in vascular health.  The dose of 500 milligrams of vitamin C created a benefit equivalent to exercise, particularly walking.

Morbidly obese people are known to be deficient in vitamin D, but there has been little research into other potential nutritional deficiencies until a study conducted in Norway. In two public hospitals, 168 morbidly obese patients were surveyed, and the results showed that vitamin C deficiency was prevalent. In addition to the vitamin C deficiencies, people who are morbidly obese are vulnerable to chronic illnesses such as cancer, type 2 diabetes, and a variety of inflammatory diseases, as well as heart disease.

Research published in the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology (Tokyo) proves that, because of its antioxidant properties, vitamin C has beneficial effects in the following obesity-related areas:

  • Modulating adipocyte lipolysis
  • Regulating the glucocorticoid release from adrenal glands
  • Inhibiting glucose metabolism and leptin secretion on isolated adipocytes
  • Leading to an improvement in hyperglycemia and decrease glycosylation in those who have diabetes
  • Reducing inflammatory response.

While it continues to be important for every person, of any body size, to participate in daily exercise, these studies demonstrate the value of supplement with vitamin C. It is useful to work with a natural health practitioner to determine how much vitamin C you may need. As a rule of thumb, the sicker you are, the greater your need for supplementation with vitamin C.