Muscle Mass and Vitamin C

Most people lose one percent of their muscle mass every year over the age of 50.

That’s a problem because declining muscle mass puts you at a higher risk for falls, fractures, disability, and even death.

Exercise certainly plays a role in helping to maintain muscle mass, but nutrition does too. A new study of older adults found that those who ate the most vitamin C had the best muscle mass!

The study looked at food intake, blood samples, and muscle mass from 13,000 people in the United Kingdom. Here were some key findings:

  • The highest amounts of dietary and blood levels of vitamin C were associated with the highest muscle mass
  • This was true for typical intake from foods (like up to ~170 mg/d)—not megadosing from supplements

But surprisingly…of the thousands of people in this recent study….

  • 60% of the men and 50% of the women were not consuming the recommended intake of vitamin C in their diets!!
  • 35% of men and 16% of women had “insufficient” vitamin C status based on blood samples

Wow. We really all need to eat more fruits and vegetables.

The RDA for vitamin C is 90 mg for adult men and 75 mg for adult women. You can get 100 mg per day by eating just a half cup each of broccoli and strawberries. 

So why is vitamin C so important? 

A new study of older adults found that those who ate the most vitamin C had the best muscle mass”

vitamin c, paprika, fit

Let’s talk about what makes vitamin C so amazing, (Warning: My inner nerd is about to come out). There are about 8 known components in vitamin C and who knows how many unknown. 

One of the components is ascorbic acid.  Ascorbic acid is the shell that holds the vitamin C complex. Many vitamin C supplements are just that, the shell (that is why finding a supplement from a whole food source is key).

So what is the complex? Vitamin C also has the vitamin P component which is a bioflavonoid called rutin. It maintains blood vessel integrity.  Integrity as in vascular integrity in aneurisms, embolisms, and stokes.  Add heart health and varicose veins too.

One thing that whole vitamin C does is that it builds collagen and decreases permeability of the cells. The vitamin C complex contains a vitamin K component; both the vitamin K1 and vitamin K2 component(s). K1 is for the clotting of the blood and K2 helps move calcium away from the arteries and into the tissues and bone.

It also has the Vitamin J component too (which is called the anti pneumonia component), and several enzymes.

So cool right? So where is the best places to find this vitamin C complex? Vitamin C is readily found in most fruits and vegetables—especially citrus fruits, strawberries, broccoli, and bell peppers.

Have questions? Reach out! 


Lewis LN, Hayhoe RPG, Mulligan AA, Luben RN, Khaw KT, Welch AA. Lower Dietary and Circulating Vitamin C in Middle- and Older-Aged Men and Women Are Associated with Lower Estimated Skeletal Muscle Mass. J Nutr. 2020; 150: 2789-2798.