Vitamin C may not be the elusive exercise-in-a-pill, but new research to be presented at the 14th International Conference on Endothelin: Physiology, Pathophysiology and Therapeutics suggests that daily vitamin C supplementation can have similar cardiovascular benefits as regular exercise in overweight and obese adults.

Blood vessels of overweight and obese adults often have increased activity of the protein endothelin (ET)-1, making vessels more prone to constricting and less responsive to blood flow demand; this can, in turn, increase the risk of vascular disease. Caitlin Dow, PhD, from the University of Colorado Boulder, and colleagues designed a study to determine if daily vitamin C supplementation could be as effective as regular aerobic exercise in reducing ET-1 system activity in overweight and obese adults. A total of 35 sedentary overweight and obese adults completed three months of either daily vitamin C supplementation (500mg/day, timed-release) supplementation or aerobic (walking) exercise training.

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Similar responses were seen in both groups regarding vasoconstriction to ET-1 (~2-fold; P<0.05). While vitamin C supplementation may be a useful addition to lifestyle strategies for reducing ET-1-mediated vasoconstrictor tone in overweight and obese adults, it is not a replacement for regular exercise or physical activity.

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