You could say vitamin C is pretty important for runners as it helps aid the repair and growth of the tissues in our body. Without it, your immune system could begin to weaken and you may be at higher risk of inflammation. But the question is, do runners really need a vitamin C supplement?

Well, yes and no really. We always encourage everyone to get their vitamins and minerals through their daily diet alone but we also understand how difficult it can be to hit the daily nutrient reference value (NRV) in this busy world of ours.

For runners in particular, it’s important to understand that you’ll be burning (and sweating) through essential vitamins and minerals more than other sedentary individuals. Vitamin C isn’t stored in your body, so you should always make sure to consume it every single day in order to keep your levels topped up – whether that’s through the foods you eat or by supplementing your diet with a high-quality vitamin C tablet like Primal Living’s.

How does vitamin C benefit runners?

Vitamin C is a highly effective water-soluble antioxidant primarily found in the cytosol and extracellular fluid. Even in small amounts, vitamin C can protect proteins, lipids, carbohydrates and nucleic acids from damage by pro-oxidants generated during normal metabolism.

A strong and healthy immune system
It’s no secret that the benefits of vitamin C for some runners are significant. Consuming enough vitamin C daily can massively help support your immune system, which is really important for marathon runners in particular as they start to increase their mileage and add extra stress to their bodies.

In 2013, Finnish scientists showed that when it comes to taking extra vitamin C, athletes benefit more than the general population. In trials at the University of Helsinki involving more than 11,000 marathon runners, teenage competitive swimmers, soldiers and school children, all volunteers were given a dose of the vitamin before assessing its impact on their health.

While the results showed no effect on the sedentary participants, the research did show that it halved the risk of catching a cold among people in hard training and among those who did catch a cold and were treated with vitamin C, most managed to shake the cold off twice as fast as training partners who weren’t receiving the vitamin.

The current recommended daily allowance (‘RDA’) of vitamin C is 40mg, however, many studies carried out (including the one just mentioned) focus on a high intake of vitamin C and therefore, it’s not unusual to hear many nutritionists and health professionals recommending 1000mg a day. As always though, we recommend that you consult your local GP before taking any new or additional supplements.

As well as boosting your immune system, vitamin C can also help runners with one common side effect: inflammation. Because vitamin C is a potent antioxidant it can be extremely helpful when it comes to decreasing inflammatory response caused by regular exercise.

Vitamin C works to beat inflammation by providing the body with protection against phagocyte-derived oxidants by reducing the adhesion of phagocytes to endothelium, attenuating respiratory burst, and preventing subsequent lipid peroxidation.

This study in particular looks at how consuming more vitamin C can increase your blood antioxidant levels by up to 30% which can help your body’s natural defenses fight inflammation.

Vitamin C also increases iron absorption
Iron is a trace element in the body and while it’s involved in the function of the immune system, its most critical role is getting enough oxygen to your muscles – which is pretty important for runners, right?

Iron is needed for the body’s overall metabolism and oxygen transportation system to function properly and, as you’ve already guessed, it’s especially important when it comes to exercise.

Iron however, is one of the most common vitamin deficiencies, especially when it comes to women. Common signs of deficiency include shortness of breath, poor endurance and fatigue.

Luckily, vitamin C aids in the absorption of iron by capturing non-heme iron and storing it in a form that’s more easily absorbed by your body. When you don’t have sufficient iron levels, then you may notice a difference in your running performance as your muscles will begin to struggle to get enough oxygen. As a result, your aerobic capacity may be compromised.

To summarise, a vitamin C supplement is only needed when you’re not consuming enough quality foods high in vitamin C.

While some of us may be border line, it’s important to consider that runners, especially marathon runners, will lose extra vitamins and minerals through intense exercise. The more energy you burn, the more you’ll lose and because of this it’s important to keep your vitamin C levels topped up.

To find out more about Primal Living’s quality, high-strength vitamin C range (available both as a tablet and effervescent), please click here.