Last Updated: Sep 8, 2018
Here we take a look at vitamin c supplements and how they help with the muscle building and/or fat burning process. Making sure you get sufficient amounts of vitamins and minerals is important to any weight trainer or bodybuilder, but vitamin C definitely stands out from the crowd a little.
Of course all vitamins are important for overall health, but vitamin C is regarded by many fitness experts as the most important of all the vitamins for weight trainers/bodybuilders specifically. Supplementing your diet with extra vitamin C daily may very well make sense to avoid missing out on having optimal levels in the body available at all times.
Of course you could and should increase your natural vitamin C intake daily from real foods, and that's the ideal, but sometimes you can't always get the amount of vitamin C that you likely need as a consistently heavy exerciser. Here are some of the important benefits of vitamin C that you'll guarantee getting by supplementing with it daily to avoid not getting enough from your normal food intake:
1. Protects from free radical damage.
When you perform weight training sessions, free radicals are created in the body. Free radicals are basically metabolic waste products that attack the cells of your body. When free radicals attack your cells like this it is called "free radical damage". Because vitamin c is a strong antioxidant, it will fight these free radicals by either stopping their creation, or by reducing their effects.
2. Reduces cortisol production.
The stress of everyday life or weight lifting triggers a catabolic hormone known as cortisol. In terms of muscle building and fat loss, cortisol is bad for you and something you should try to avoid. Cortisol actually breaks down muscle tissue to use for energy, and tends to promote extra fat storage especially around your stomach. It also reduces the recovery of your muscles after your workouts, and interferes with nutrition transport to your muscles. So, I'm sure you can see why cortisol isn't your best friend, and one of the solid benefits of vitamin c is it reduces the production of this detrimental hormone in your body.
3. Strengthens the immune system.
Getting sick is the last thing a bodybuilder or avid weight lifter wants. You won't be able to train at your peak, or you may not be able to workout at all. Plus, getting suck just...well, sucks. Your diet will probably suffer too during your downtime, and losing a few pounds or kilos isn't going to help your muscular weight gain goals. That's where vitamin C can help, as it's one piece of the puzzle of a strong, healthy immune system.
4. Helps with muscle soreness.
It has been proven that when vitamin c supplements are taken near a workout, your muscles won't become as sore over the next few days after the workout. If I don't supplement with vitamin c, I notice that my muscles ache just that little bit more than if I had of taken vitamin c. Try it out for yourself and you may see the subtle yet noticeable difference that vitamin c supplements can make.
5. Increases iron absorption.
Vitamin c will increase the absorption of iron in your body. If you must know, iron is used to bind oxygen to hemoglobin in your blood and is vital if you want to perform an intense weight training session with all your energy.
6. Helps create steroid hormones.
Last but not least of the benefits of vitamin c is that it assists the creation of natural anabolic steroids in the body. The amount of muscle that you are physically able to build relies on how much of this natural steroid hormone you have in your body, so the more the better.
Now you understand some of the important benefits of supplementing with vitamin C as a gym-goer, you may be wondering how much you should be taking. Good question. The daily recommended intake is only 60mg (at least from a random source I last checked), but that is for average everyday people who aren't giving their all in the gym week in week out.
As a bodybuilder/weight lifter you require a far higher amount of vitamins and minerals, with vitamin C being one the most important, and if you're training heavy consistently I would recommend a daily dosage of at least 200-1000mg, but no more than 2000-3000mg.
Don't stress too much about the amounts though, as large amounts of vitamin C is proven to be safe as it is water-soluble, meaning that your body flushes out any excess amounts of the vitamin through urine or sweat. If you're taking a multivitamin supplement, then don't forget to take the amount of vitamin C in your multivitamin into account.
Also, split your total daily intake into 2-3 dosages. As an example, if you aim to take 1500mg of vitamin C supplements a day then you would split it up into 3 doses of 500mg: 1 in the morning, 1 before or after your workout, and 1 after your workout as an example.