Vitamin C is (in some ways) as good for your heart as exercise, according to research from the University of Colorado, Boulder. But before you reach for the multivitamin in lieu of those dumbbells, keep reading.
First, a quick physiology primer: There's a small blood vessel-constricting protein called endothelin that's more active in obese and overweight adults. This means their blood vessels are more prone to constricting, become less responsive to blood flow demand, and are more at-risk for vascular disease. Exercise is known to reduce this activity, but over 50 percent of obese and overweight adults still don’t do it.
In the new study, researchers wanted to see whether vitamin C supplements, touted by previous research for improving blood vessel function, could actually lower endothelin activity. And it did. Daily supplementation of vitamin C (500 mg/day, time-released) reduced endothelin-related vessel constriction as much as walking for exercise did in study participants.
So, while in theory Vitamin C supplementation is a decent lifestyle strategy for reducing blood vessel constriction in overweight and obese adults, it's not necessarily better than exercise. In fact, the two things are different beasts. Proper nutrition (including getting plenty of vitamins either in pill form or—better yet—via foods) and regular exercise are together the key to a fit body—and overall health.
Working out can help you to maintain muscle mass and volume into old age, maintain the proper function of your brain, keep your metabolism revved up, and keep your respiratory and cardiac health optimal, to name but a few of the benefits.
So sure, pop a vitamin C supplement or try some of these foods with vitamin C. It could help amp your heart health among other perks. But, don't use this news as an excuse to skip the gym today. (Sorry!)