We continue our overview of food supplements with Stéphane Penso. This week, one of the most famous vitamins to the general public, which essentially brings tone and energy: the vitamin C !

Vitamin C is probably the best-known vitamin, in sedentary people as well as in athletes. It is used to protect the body from infections, to fight against fatigue, and it promotes the absorption of iron. So why does the athlete have a higher than average need for vitamin C?

The answer is because vitamin C is poorly stored. It is eliminated in the urine, but also through perspiration. The athlete, with daily physical activity, therefore very quickly depletes his stock of vitamin C. If you run out of it you will tire more quickly, will be more sensitive to germs and bacteria lying around, and will be more likely to injure yourself ...

Vitamin C what is it?

Vitamin C or L-ascorbic acid, is part of the so-called water-soluble vitamins, that is to say water-soluble vitamins, such as group B vitamins. Its biochemical action is multiple and its physiological activity is very extensive. For athletes, vitamin C, a true vitamin for muscle tone, resistance to fatigue and recovery after exercise, is a fundamental vitamin alongside B vitamins.

Vitamin C participates in the body's defenses, plays a role in the fight against free radicals (inevitable harmful substances in our body), against infections. It has a detoxifying, anti-haemorrhagic power and above all brings a general tone of the highest interest for the athlete.

Vitamin C, in particular, has a preventive effect on the decrease in immunity that could result from intense and prolonged exercise. The practice of an intense physical activity in the athlete leads to a weakening of the natural defenses in the hours or even the weeks which follow the effort, making him more susceptible to infections.

Vitamin C participates in the absorption of iron as well as in the synthesis of hormones, red blood cells and cellular tissues.

Finally, vitamin C is useful in the recovery phase, since it reduces healing time.

Vitamin C supplementation can help limit muscle damage and pain following intense exercise.

The interest of vitamin C for sport

Contrary to what we often hear, vitamin C does not prevent sleep. There is therefore no point in increasing your vitamin C rations in the morning if the goal is to be more efficient during evening workouts. On the other hand, the practice of a sport, in an intensive way, increases the needs of the body in vitamin C. Any serious sportsman should thus make sure to have a significant contribution of this vitamin by consuming enough fruits and vegetables, even in using food supplements.

During periods of intensive competition, oxidative stress generates damage and muscle pain which may prove to be a handicap for achieving a good performance. Vitamin C having antioxidant properties, supplementation may be of interest in the weeks preceding the start of the competition. A supplement will restore a good physiological state which will allow the athlete to fully express his capacities.

The other benefit of vitamin C is to maintain the immune system at a good level. The practice of sport can have an impact on the immune system and make the athlete more susceptible to certain diseases while the body recovers from its efforts. Using enough vitamin C will allow the body to restore its defenses more quickly.

The interest of vitamin C in athletes

Contrary to popular belief, vitamin C has no exciting or stimulating power. However, it is involved in the reduction of oxidative stress, improves the production of nitric oxide and improves the synthesis of carnitine.
Namely, vitamin C is not produced by our body, and it is not stored there. It is therefore important to consume it on a daily basis.

The needs of athletes are higher

The practice of a sport on a regular and intensive basis increases the body's need for vitamin C. Any athlete must make sure to absorb enough vitamin C every day, through a diet rich in fruits and vegetables accompanied, if necessary, to food supplements. According to the latest research on vitamin C, the needs of athletes are underestimated and intakes between 500mg and 3g per day are recommended to reduce oxidative stress and improve recovery. FYI, know that low carbohydrate diets require an increase in vitamin C intakes.

Oxidative stress generates muscle damage and pain which has a negative impact on performance. Vitamin C having antioxidant properties, supplementation is interesting in order to optimize recovery.

For fat burning

Fat is a source of energy that the body can rely on when needed, in part due to l-carnitine. Vitamin C optimizes the effectiveness of carnitine, which it improves synthesis.

Vitamin C and nitric oxide

Nitric oxide, or NO, is a gas produced in our blood vessels. It is used in particular to regulate blood pressure. In the sports field, NO is interesting because it improves muscle oxygenation, the distribution of nutrients while reducing the accumulation of lactic acid, thereby improving muscle recovery. Vitamin C improves the bioavailability of nitric oxide, which is why it is often found in formulas workout boosters.

To reduce cortisol

High levels of vitamin C reduce the secretion of cortisol, hormone released in the body during stressful phases. Cortisol proportionally reduces the levels of Testosterone and thus plunges the body into a state of catabolism. The muscles are then used as a source of energy. Take vitamin C to protect your muscle mass!

In short

  • Vitamin C stimulates the immune system
  • It is water soluble. It does not store in the body
  • Daily intakes are recommended
  • Vitamin C intake is obtained from food and food supplements
  • It is antioxidant
  • It reduces inflammation
  • It reduces blood pressure
  • It reduces the risk of heart disease
  • It reduces the intensity and space the gout attacks
  • It improves iron absorption
  • It reduces the risk of dementia
Published by
Stéphane Penso