Vitamin C – Your Bones, And Muscles

A water-soluble vitamin available from citrus, fruits, and leafy greens, we’ve all heard about the great vitamin C. Most of us probably know it as a vitamin that is key for the immune system. That’s because vitamin C helps our immune cells through supporting their growth and ability to fight off pathogens1. However, this vitamin is also a key vitamin for many processes in the muscle-skeletal system and can therefore support muscle gain.

Providing support

Physical performance requires our connective tissue, like our joints, to be healthy. When they are faced with increased loads, such as from strength training, our cells increase collagen production to ensure they can withstand them2.

Collagen is made in our cells, where small amino acid chains made from amino acids like lysine and proline are assembled. They undergo a few changes with the help of enzymes and vitamin C, forming pro-collagens strands. Three of these strands then twist together, get slightly modified and become collagen3.

Preclinical evidence has shown that vitamin C quickens healing, increases synthesis of collagen and can decrease oxidative stress4. It can be combined with gelatin and exercise for a further boost to the synthesis process and for preventing injury during exercise5. Therefore, getting plenty of vitamin C can support bone and ligament health, allowing you to reach your exercise goals safely.

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Keeping the muscles energized

When we exercise, our body uses different types of fuel, from glycogen to fatty acids. The fuel of choice depends on the exercise that’s being done, with lower-intensity exercise favoring fatty acid usage6.

Carnitine is a compound that plays an important role in our metabolism, moving long-chain fatty acids into the mitochondria. These fatty acids can then be used to generate energy7. Carnitine is made using two amino acids, lysine, and methionine. Multiple enzymes are used to make the two amino acids into carnitine, and the process could not be possible without vitamin C8.

Vitamin C therefore supports fat burning processes helping you generate enough energy to carry out the exercise you’re doing. This may also be the reason why people with sufficient vitamin C intake may be less likely to have excess weight9. Vitamin C supports the usage of fats by stimulating carnitine synthesis. This then leads to less accumulated triglycerides, which is the form that fatty acids are stored in the body, and hence less fatty tissue10.

Vitamin C and age

Vitamin C affects performance differently at different ages. For example, adolescents that get enough vitamin C are better at supplying their muscles with oxygen11.

The elderly on the other hand, can greatly benefit from additional vitamin C. Supplementing this antioxidant improves bone strength12. It also supports blood circulation during exercise13. Additional vitamin C can also improve collagen synthesis in the elderly14. Vitamin C also prevents muscle loss and improves physical performance with aging15.

This effect likely occurs due to the antioxidant function of vitamin C. As we age, our cells generate more free radicals, and the antioxidant systems of the cell are unable to balance them out.

Therefore, older adults can benefit from taking in additional vitamin C to keep their muscles strong and avoid age-related muscle loss.

On the other hand, young, healthy people should pay attention to ensuring they are getting enough vitamin C daily. This will allow your immune system to function as normal, support your collagen synthesis and ensure good overall health.

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