Sports

Vitamin C supplementation is often used by athletes in order to improve recovery, restore immune responses, enhance wound healing, counteract oxidative stress and changes to adrenal hormones and inflammatory responses. It is often taken together with other antioxidant vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin E and zinc. One placebo-controlled study has shown that 20 mg of ascorbic acid twice daily over 14 days has some modest beneficial effects on recovery from unaccustomed exercise (Thompson et al 2001); however, no studies have reported improved performance for vitamin C supplementation.

Prevention of post-endurance exercise infections Athletes often use vitamin C supplements to prevent infections, as strenuous training and physiological stress appears to increase the body's need for vitamin C to a level above the usual RDI (Schwenk & Costley 2002). Additionally, the risk of infection after an intense aerobic training session or competition (such as a marathon) is increased (Jeurissen et al 2003).

A 2004 Cochrane review that analysed results from six trials involving a total of 642 marathon runners, skiers, and soldiers on subarctic exercises found regular vitamin C supplementation significantly reduced the incidence of the common cold, supporting its use in this population (Douglas et al 2004).

Alterations to neurotransmitters and adrenal hormones Several studies have been conducted with ultra-marathon runners to investigate whether vitamin C © 2007 Elsevier Australia

supplementation, usually in doses of 1 500 mg/day, is able to restore exercise-induced changes to neurotransmitters, adrenal hormones or inflammatory responses (Nieman et al 2000, Peters et al 2001 a,b). Overall, it appears that high-dose vitamin C supplements taken at least 7 days prior to racing does have some effect.

One study involving 45 ultra-marathon runners found that doses of 1 500 mg vitamin C taken for 7 days before the race, on the day of the race, and for 2 days following completion significantly attenuated exercise-induced elevations in Cortisol, adrenaline, IL-10 and IL-1 receptor antagonist levels compared with placebo (Peters et al 2001 a); however, the effect was transient.

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