Can Vitamin C prevent gradual muscle loss? Recent study answers this question.

Gradual muscle loss, or what doctors called sarcopenia, is one of the key problems of aging.  Accelerated sarcopenia or severe sarcopenia can lead to increased morbidity and mortality, and there are no known drug treatments. Of course exercise is a treatment to slow down sarcopenia, but it turns out that Vitamin C may also play an important role.  In a recent very large assessment performed in England, researchers looked at over 13000 people. Study subjects who were consuming a higher amount of Vitamin C from their diet displayed the best muscle mass.  What is interesting was that nearly half of all patients assessed in this study did not consume the recommended Vitamin C dose.  

 The author’s conclusion is “dietary vitamin C is important for muscle health in older men and women and may be useful for preventing age-related muscle loss. This is particularly significant as Vitamin C is readily available in fruits and vegetables, or supplements, so improving intake of this vitamin is relatively straightforward,” said Dr Richard Hayhoe. 

Unfortunately there are number of essential questions that this study was not able to address due to design.  Is supplementing with higher doses of Vitamin C better as compared to diet? The highest amount of Vitamin C consumed within the range in this study was only 170mg of Vitamin C/day. One would wonder if doses close to 500mg/day, as often advocated by experts, would show better results.

So how does this change AgeWise recommendations? Not much really, if one consumes a mostly plant based diet high in vegetables, berries, and some fruits, the amount of Vitamin C a person receives should be at the highest range of this study.  Additionally, if one is taking a high quality multivitamin they are most likely consuming an excessive amount.  If one is not taking any additional supplemental form of Vitamin C, they may benefit by exploring a more individualized assessment of nutrients, through a consultation with a nutritionist or performing a functional assessment of their nutritional status through companies like Genova Diagnostics, Spectracel, and others.

For more detailed review of the study please look at this excellent summary by Today’s practitioner: https://todayspractitioner.com/uncategorized/vitamin-c-helps-50-men-and-women-retain-muscle-mass/#.X3HUFdNKgq8 or to read entire study: https://academic.oup.com/jn/advance-article/doi/10.1093/jn/nxaa221/5897318

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