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Don't count on vitamin C to boost your exercise performance

tion of ascorbic acid."

The study also showed that, "Plasma concentration increased in all subjects following the acute but not chronic administration, establishing that we were able to increase plasma concentration of ascorbic acid to supra-physiological levels in both young and older adults with acute administration."

Real exercise points out complexity of interactions

The report noted that: "Oxidized low-density lipoprotein concentration was negatively associated with maximum heart rate and was greater in the older compared with young adults and was reduced in both groups following acute, but not chronic, ascorbic acid administration, establishing that we were able to reduce oxidative stress in both groups with acute administration." In another measure, maximal heart rate was lower in older adults compared with young, but again was unchanged with vitamin C; maximum stroke volume was similar in the older and young adults, and was unchanged after taking vitamin C.

According to Bell, the big difference in results came from the fact that in earlier studies some of the metabolic manifestations of exercise were chemically induced, while the current study actually tested the role of vitamin C in hard-exercising humans. This means "the body's physiologic stimulation is from actual exercise with input from the nervous system sensing an increased need for oxygen and sending more blood going to the muscles."

Also it was thought that regular exercise lowers even older persons' oxidative stress. So in order to set the stage for the greatest possible effect, "we used sedentary older people because we wanted the highest level of oxidative stress as possible. But they were still healthy," Bell noted, and some earlier studies had "suggested that antioxidant administration may only prove to be beneficial for populations with elevated baseline oxidative stress such as vascular disease patients, smokers or older adults."

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