Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that is also known as ascorbic acid. Vitamin C has many different actions in the human body. It is well known as an antioxidant but it is also important in the formation of fibrous tissue known as collagen. Vitamin C also assists in the metabolism of several amino acids. Some of these amino acids are converted to norepinephrine and thyroxine. During stress, Vitamin C is released from the adrenal glands, its highest concentration in the body, along with epinephrine and norepinephrine. It is well-known that vitamin C is an essential nutrient in humans and that its deficiency results in condition known as scurvy that is fatal if left untreated. Other primates and guinea pigs are also unable to produce their own vitamin C. Deficiency symptoms include anemia, atherosclerotic plaques, depression, infection, bleeding gums, muscle degeneration, and joint pain among others. Some food with high quantities of Vitamin C are citrus fruits, broccoli and brussels sprouts. Vitamin C has been touted as everything from a cure for the common cold to a cure for cancer. Other animals that do not produce vitamin C consume it in quantities up to ten times the recommended intake for humans and animals that produce it do so in very high quantities. This has led some, including Nobel Laureate Linus Pauling to advocate mega dose levels of vitamin C. Research is still being conducted into the benefits of high doses of vitamin C. Some side effects of high doses of vitamin C are nausea, diarrhea, headache, fatigue, hot flashes, and rashes. Another consideration when megadosing is that the body becomes accustomed to these high levels and one must taper the dose of vitamin C to prevent the appearance of deficiency symptoms with sudden cessation.
Vitamin C has been studied in exercise and it’s unclear how much of an effect it has. It certainly can increase anti-oxidant status and reduce muscle damage, but this mechanism’s effect on bodybuilding is unclear. Vitamin C can be used in conjunction with Nitric Oxide supplements to prolong their effects, so in this way it may be beneficial for athletes.