Vitamin C and recovery

Post-exercise vitamin C supplementation and recovery from demanding exercise

D. Thompson1 , C. Williams2, P. Garcia-Roves2, S. J. McGregor2, F. McArdle3 and M. J. Jackson3

(1) Department of Sport and Exercise Science, University of Bath, Bath, BA2 7AY, UK
(2) Human Muscle Metabolism Research Group, Loughborough University, Loughborough , LE11 3TU, UK
(3) Muscle Research Centre, Department of Medicine, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, L69 3BX, UK


The aim of this study was to investigate whether post-exercise vitamin C supplementation influences recovery from an unaccustomed bout of exercise. Sixteen male subjects were allocated to either a placebo (P; n=8) or vitamin C (VC) group (n=8). Subjects performed a prolonged (90-min) intermittent shuttle-running test, and supplementation began after the cessation of exercise. Immediately after exercise the VC group consumed 200 mg of VC dissolved in a 500 ml drink, whereas the subjects in the P group consumed the drink alone. Later on the same day and then in the morning and evening of the following 2 days, subjects consumed additional identical drinks. Plasma VC concentrations in the VC group increased above those in the P group 1 h after exercise and remained above P values for the 3 days after exercise. Nevertheless, post-exercise VC supplementation was not associated with improved recovery. Post-exercise serum creatine kinase activities and myoglobin concentrations were unaffected by supplementation. Muscle soreness and the recovery of muscle function in the leg flexors and extensors were not different in VC and P groups. Furthermore, although plasma concentrations of interleukin-6 and malondialdehyde increased following exercise, there was no difference between VC and P groups. These results suggest that either free radicals are not involved in delaying the recovery process following a bout of unaccustomed exercise, or that the consumption of VC wholly after exercise is unable to deliver this antioxidant to the appropriate sites with sufficient expediency to improve recovery.

I was of the understanding that taking Vitamin C BEFORE training some had some positive benefits. Any comments?

I once sat in a lecture given by an author of the above paper (McArdle) and she stated that not surprisingly a megadose of a single antioxidant acts very differently on a tissue to a range of antioxidants found in food, and it is not fully clear whether either aid recovery. She also stated that taking antioxidants whether from food or supplements, may decrease the natural antioxidant (enzyme) systems we have in our muscles, however it is still very important to gain a wide variety of antioxidants from our diet. Many more studies are needed before we know the benefit of oral antioxidants in recovery and DOMS.