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Sep 07, 2015 11:26 AM EDT

Vitamin C Supplements May Be As Effective As Exercise For Overweight, Obese Adults

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For overweight and obese adults, vitamin C supplements could replace exercise, according to a recent study.  

Researchers from the University of Colorado at Boulder found that taking vitamin C supplements daily can have similar cardiovascular benefits as regular exercise in overweight and obese adults, The Los Angeles Times reported.

Caitlin Dow, lead author of the study, told the Times the findings are "particularly important" for overweight and obese adults who cannot exercise due to physical limitations.

"This is not 'the exercise pill,' " Dow said. "[Vitamins C] certainly isn't a new cure ....  It's important to know what other lifestyle changes we can offer people who can't exercise."

The blood vessels of overweight and obese adults have elevated activity of the small vessel-constricting protein endothelin (ET)-1. Because of the high ET-1 activity, these vessels are more prone to constricting, becoming less responsive to blood flow demand and increasing risk of developing vascular disease,Newsmax reported. Exercise has been shown to reduce ET-1 activity, but incorporating an exercise regimen into a daily routine can be challenging.

For the study, Dow and her colleagues collected and analyzed data from 35 people. Fifteen of the participants got the walking treatment, while the rest took the vitamin C supplements.

The researchers found that daily supplementation of vitamin C (500 mg/day, time-released) reduced ET-1-related vessel constriction as much as walking for exercise did. Vitamin C supplementation represents an effective lifestyle strategy for reducing ET-1-mediated vessel constriction in overweight and obese adults.

The findings will be presented at the 14th International Conference on Endothelin: Physiology, Pathophysiology and Therapeutics.

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