Vitamin C is water-soluble, and probably the most famous of all the vitamins. Even before its discovery in 1932, physicians recognised that there must be a compound in citrus fruits preventing scurvy, a disease that killed as many as 2 million sailors between 1500 and 1800. Later researchers discovered that man, other primates and the guinea pig depend on external sources to cover their Vitamin C requirements. Most other animals are able to synthesise Vitamin C from glucose and galactose in their body. The most prominent role of Vitamin C is its immune stimulating effect, which is important for the defence against infections such as common colds. It also acts as an inhibitor of histamine, a compound that is released during allergic reactions. As a powerful antioxidant it can neutralise harmful free radicals and aids in neutralising pollutants and toxins. Thus it is able to prevent the formation of potentially carcinogenic nitrosamines in the stomach (due to consumption of nitrite-containing foods, such as smoked meat). Importantly, Vitamin C is also able to regenerate other antioxidants such as Vitamin E. Vitamin C is required for the synthesis of collagen, the intercellular 'cement' substance which gives structure to muscles, vascular tissues, bones, tendons and ligaments. Due to these functions Vitamin C, especially in combination with zinc, is important for the healing of wounds. Vitamin C contributes to the health of teeth and gums, preventing haemorrhaging and bleeding. It also improves the absorption of iron from the diet, and is needed for the metabolism of bile acids, which may have implications for blood cholesterol levels and gallstones. In addition, Vitamin C plays an important role in the synthesis of several important peptide hormones and neurotransmitters and carnitine. Finally, Vitamin C is also a crucial factor in the eye's ability to deal with oxidative stress, and can delay the progression of advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and vision-loss in combination with other antioxidant vitamins and zinc.
Huck CJ, Johnston CS, Beezhold BL, Swan PD. Vitamin C status and perception of effort during exercise in obese adults adhering to a calorie-reduced diet. 1. nutrition. 2012 Jun 5. [Epub ahead of print]
OBJECTIVE: Moderate energy restriction and exercise are recommended for effective weight loss. Obese individuals oxidize less fat and report a higher perceived exertion during exercise, characteristics that may negatively influence exercise behavior. Because Vitamin C status has been linked to fatigability, we compared the effects of Vitamin C supplementation on self-reported fatigue and on the respiratory exchange ratio and the Ratings of Perceived Exertion scale during moderate exercise in healthy obese adults adhering to a hypocaloric diet. METHODS: Twenty adults (4 men and 16 women) were stratified and randomly assigned to receive 500 mg of Vitamin C (VC) or placebo (CON) daily for 4 wk while adhering to a vitamin C-controlled, calorie-restricted diet. Feelings of general fatigue as assessed by the Profile of mood States questionnaire were recorded on a separate day from the exercise session at weeks 0 and 4. Participants walked on a treadmill at an intensity of 50% predicted maximal oxygen consumption for 60 min at weeks 0 and 4, and heart rate, respiratory exchange ratio, and Ratings of Perceived Exertion were recorded. RESULTS: After 4 wk, the two groups lost similar amounts of weight (?4 kg), and the respiratory exchange ratio was not altered by group. Heart rate and the Ratings of Perceived Exertion during exercise were significantly decreased in the VC versus the CON group (-11 versus -3 beats/min, P?= 0.022, and -1.3 versus +0.1 U, P = 0.001, respectively), and the general fatigue score was decreased 5.9 U for the VC group versus a 1.9U increase for the CON group (P = 0.001). CONCLUSION: These data provide preliminary evidence that Vitamin C status may influence fatigue, heart rate, and perceptions of exertion during moderate exercise in obese individuals.