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Vitamin C and Exercise Performance



Ascorbic acid does not affect the age-associated reduction in maximal cardiac output and oxygen consumption in healthy adults.

Maximal aerobic capacity (Vo(2max)) decreases progressively with age, primarily because of a reduction in maximal cardiac output (Q(max)). This age-associated decline in Vo(2max) may be partially mediated by the development of oxidative stress that can suppress beta-adrenergic-receptor responsiveness and, consequently, reduce Q(max). To test this hypothesis, Vo(2max) (indirect calorimetry) and Q(max) (open-circuit acetylene breathing) were determined in 12 young (23 +/- 1 yr, mean +/- SE) and 10 older (61 +/- 1 yr) adults following systemic infusion of either saline (control) and/or the powerful antioxidant ascorbic acid (acute: bolus 0.06; drip 0.02 g/kg fat-free mass) and following chronic 30-day oral administration of ascorbic acid (500 mg/day). Plasma ascorbic acid concentration was not different between young and older adults and was increased similarly, independent of age [change (Delta) acute = 1,055 +/- 117%; Delta chronic = 62 +/- 19%]. Oxidized low-density lipoprotein concentration was greater (P < 0.001) in older (57 +/- 5 U/l) compared with young (34 +/- 3 U/l) adults and was reduced in both groups (P < 0.02) following acute (Delta = -6 +/- 2%) but not chronic (P = 0.18) ascorbic acid administration. Control (baseline) Vo(2max) and Q(max) were positively related (r = 0.76, P < 0.001) and were lower (P < 0.05) in older (34 +/- 2 ml.kg(- 1).min(-1); 16.1 +/- 1.1 l/min) compared with young (43 +/- 3 ml.kg(-1).min(-1); 20.2 +/- 0.9 l/min) adults. Following ascorbic acid administration, neither Vo(2max) (young acute = 41 +/- 2; young chronic = 42 +/- 2; older acute = 34 +/- 2; older chronic = 34 +/- 2 ml.kg(-1).min(-1)) nor Q(max) (young acute = 20.1 +/- 0.9; young chronic = 19.1 +/- 0.8; older acute = 16.2 +/- 1.1; older chronic = 16.6 +/- 1.4 l/min) was changed. These data suggest that ascorbic acid administration does not affect the age- associated reduction in maximal cardiac output (Q(max)) and VO(2max).

Editor's comment. Note that Vit C also had no effect on VO2max or maximal cardiac output in either age group compared to their own age group controls either.


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