Endurance athletes, like marathon runners, willingly put their bodies under a significant amount of stress in epic efforts towards physical and mental fitness. But these trying physical efforts come with costs, including injuries and illness. An overly-stressed body is often a weakened body, so endurance athletes take many preventative steps to ensure their immune system, in particular, is functioning on high.
Endurance Athletes and Vitamin C Protection
A recent study published in The Cochrane Library offered some insight into how Vitamin C could play an important role in protecting the physically stressed immune systems of endurance athletes.
According to the study, as reported by Medical News Today, vitamin C supplementation can reduce the risk of catching a cold to marathon runners and others under similar stress. However, though they found vitamin C supplementation to positively affect the length and severity of cold symptoms among non-endurance athletes, they found no evidence that it would prevent colds in these non-runners.
The researchers looked specifically at 29 trials involving 11,306 people. In the “general population” vitamin C supplementation didn’t affect the incidence of the common cold at all.
The only population that saw a significant reduction in the risk of catching the common cold were those that did “heavy physical activity”, including marathon runners and others in the midst of serious physical trials.
“The failure of vitamin C supplementation to reduce the incidence of colds in the general population indicates that routing vitamin C supplementation is not justified, yet vitamin C may be useful for people exposed to brief periods of severe physical exercise,” wrote the researchers in their conclusion.
It is not uncommon for long-distance runners to fall ill during training. They are pushing their body to extremes and perhaps in an effort to keep up with the physical stress, the immune system is compromised. In this regard, vitamin C could provide protection for these athletes who are in the thick of their long-distance training.
As for the rest of us, though the analysis shows no preventative value in consistent vitamin C supplementation for the prevention of colds (many others have), it still holds value in reducing the length and severity of cold symptoms.
For more information on vitamin C, check out these 7 signs of vitamin C deficiency.