Vitamin C is perhaps the best-known vitamin of all, a go-to for those battling cold and flu symptoms and infamously inversely associated with scurvy in sailors. Now, new research shows that vitamin C may play a crucial role in retaining skeletal muscle mass in later years.
The study, published by the University of East Anglia, examined data from over 13,000 people aged 42 to 82 and found that older individuals with higher levels of vitamin C in their bloodstream than their peers consistently had better skeletal muscle mass.
The loss of skeletal muscle mass is an issue that plagues us as we age, causing ailments such as sarcopenia and frailty, leading to a lower quality of life. According to the study’s lead researcher, Ailsa Welch, professor of nutritional epidemiology, skeletal muscle mass density in people over 50 can decrease by up to 1% annually.
“[Vitamin C] helps defend the cells and tissues that make up the body from potentially harmful free radical substances,” she explains. “Unopposed, these free radicals can contribute to the destruction of muscle, thus speeding up age-related decline.”
Researchers say that eating foods rich in vitamin C every day, such as citrus and green and red bell peppers, will provide sufficient levels of the vitamin to maximize bone health.