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Endurance Athletes Might Want to Avoid Supplementing with Vitamins C and E

Taking vitamins C and E to improve fitness might be a mistake, according to a new study. Researchers at the Norwegian School of Sports Sciences have found supplementing with the two vitamins actually disrupts the way muscles adapt to exercise on a cellular level.

Dr Gøran Paulsen, who led the study at the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, explains: “Our results show that vitamin C and E supplements blunted the endurance training-induced increase of mitochondrial proteins, which are needed to improve muscular endurance.”

Paulsen and colleagues conducted an 11-week study with 54 young, healthy men and women. The people studied took either 1000mg vitamin C and 235mg vitamin E (which are the amounts found in many store-bought vitamins), or a placebo containing no active ingredients. Study participants completed an endurance training program, of three to four sessions of primarily running each week. Researchers performed fitness tests and took blood samples and muscle biopsies before and after the intervention.

They found the markers associated with new muscle mitochondria production (which is the power supply for cells) increased only in the placebo group.

“Our results indicate that high dosages of vitamin C and E–as commonly found in supplements–should be used with caution, especially if you are undertaking endurance training,” Paulsen says.

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