Last Updated: Feb 2, 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 trainer. Here are the benefits of vitamin C for you as a trainer to showcase how key this vitamin actually is:
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. One of the large benefits of vitamin c is it reduces the production of cortisol in your body.
3. Strengthens the immune system.
Getting sick is the last thing a bodybuilder wants. You won't be able to train at your peak, or you may not be able to workout at all. Your diet will probably suffer too, and losing a few pounds or kilos is common.
That's where vitamin c comes in. It works to reduce the chance of you getting an illness, which is very handy indeed. Nobody wants to be sick.
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.
So now you understand the important benefits of supplementing with vitamin c, you may be wondering how much you should be taking. The daily recommended intake is only 60mg, but that is for average everyday people.
As a bodybuilder you require a far higher amount of vitamin c. I would recommend a daily dosage of at least 500mg, but no more than 2000-3000mg.
If you're taking a multivitamin supplement (as you should be doing), then don't forget to take the amount of vitamin c in the multivitamin into account. A multivitamin on its own won't give enough vitamin c for your needs, so you will need to purchase separate vitamin c supplements.
Taking large amounts of vitamin c is safe as it is water-soluble, which means that your body flushes out excess vitamin c through urine or sweat.
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 your workout, and 1 after your workout. The most important time to take a dose is just before a workout.