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Weight Loss Benefits of Vitamin C

Could vitamin C, the water-soluble nutrient known for its effectiveness in treating scurvy and protecting your body against free radical damage, also help obese and overweight people lose weight? Let's find out.

Vitamin C Enhances Fat-Burning During Exercise, Study Shows

A preliminary study published in the journal Nutrition & Metabolism found that during a 60-minute walk on a treadmill, study participants with low-blood concentrations of vitamin C burned 25 percent less fat than participants with adequate amounts of vitamin C. In a subsequent double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, the researchers gave eight of the vitamin C depleted participants supplemental vitamin C in order to see whether it would boost their fat burning power. As expected, normalization of plasma vitamin C concentrations resulted in a significant increase in the participants' fat burning capability. According to the researchers who carried out this study, vitamin C is necessary for creating carnitine, a compound that helps the body turn fat into energy, which may explain the weight loss benefits of vitamin C observed in this study.

Inconsistent Results from Studies Investigating Associations between Body Weight and Vitamin C Intake in General

According to a paper study published in Nutrition Journal in 2014, evidence from earlier cross-sectional studies suggests that low levels of vitamin C are associated with both a higher body mass index (BMI) and a higher waist circumference. In addition, a double-blind placebo-controlled study published in the journal Nutrition & Health in 1985 found that supplementation with three grams of vitamin C per day improved weight loss in obese women during a six-week trial period.

However, despite the findings of these two studies, and the evidence that points to the role of vitamin C in the production of the fat-burning compound carnitine, a large prospective study investigating the potential weight loss benefits of vitamin C found no sufficient evidence suggesting that vitamin C intake is linked to changes in body weight in general. This study is described in detail in the 2014 paper mentioned above.

Vitamin C and Weight Loss

The Bottom Line

Before any definitive conclusions can be made about the beneficial effects of vitamin C on weight loss, more studies – especially well-controlled clinical trials involving obese and overweight people – are needed. However, even if it turns out that vitamin C won't help you lose weight, it is still an essential nutrient that is needed for numerous functions in the body. And, considering that millions of North Americans have suboptimal levels of vitamin C, there's a good chance you may benefit from adding some vitamin C rich foods to your diet. With that in mind, here's a list of foods that are among the most concentrated natural sources of vitamin C:

  • Camu camu fruit: Some exotic fruits and berries are called superfoods because they contain exceptionally high amounts of one or more nutrients. If you are looking to stock your pantry with superfood powders that are brimming with vitamin C, try freeze-dried camu-camu powder – native to South America, the camu camu fruit contains about 40 times as much vitamin C as oranges! Plus, the weight loss promoting potential of camu camu has actually been tested in mice, with promising results.
  • Baobab fruit: Another great option for those who are looking for a vitamin C rich superfood powder is baobab fruit powder. In its fresh form, the baobab fruit contains nearly 10 times the amount of vitamin C found in an equivalent serving of fresh oranges, and the dried and powdered pulp that you may have seen in the health food stores contains even more vitamin C per ounce since the water has been removed.
  • Guava: Fresh guavas, which are available in some Asian supermarkets, contain about 228 milligrams of vitamin C per 100 grams, which is more than 4 times the amount of vitamin C you would get from an equivalent serving of fresh oranges.

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