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September 28, 2020 • Healthy Living

Vitamin C for Muscle Mass

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Maintaining muscle mass as we age is paramount for health and quality of life. In some studies muscular strength is the single greatest predictor of independence in old age! Indeed, muscle mass is instrumental in avoiding frailty as well as the entire family of metabolic conditions, like type 2 diabetes.
Thanks to a pivotal study from Europe, it appears we can look to vitamin C as a trusty safeguard to mitigate loss of muscle mass as we age. (An epidemic condition called sarcopenia.) In a study involving 13,000 adults ages 42-82, scientist compared skeletal muscle mass to levels of vitamin C, measured both in the study subject’s blood as well as from detailed dietary questionnaires. The results? Those with the highest levels of vitamin C, either in their bloodstream or from their reported diets, had the very best skeletal muscle mass.
These results are not surprising as vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that safeguards muscle cells from oxidative stress which is known to damage and degrade them. Given that up to half of adults do not get optimal dietary levels of daily vitamin C, these results should be a wake-up call. The great news is that reaching daily targets is easy and delicious. Simply include a serving or two from any of the following foods each day: bell peppers, dark leafy greens, sweet potatoes, winter squash, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, snow peas, kiwi, strawberries, or any citrus. As a safety net, also consider a daily multivitamin. I typically recommend a daily multi for those above age 50. The Journal of Nutrition, 2020; DOI: 10.1093/jn/nxaa221
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