Vitamin C has been a star player on the natural remedy scene for a long time now. The humble vitamin, found in many otherwise healthy fruits and vegetables, has been touted to cure just about everything from cancer to nail-biting. Unfortunately, many of these claims just don’t hold up under the lens of scientific study.
A recent review of the available research, however, suggests that vitamin C might just be the answer to a frustratingly common problem among athletes and casual exercisers alike: Shortness of breath.
Post-exercise Shortness of Breath
Specifically, what the researchers were looking at is called exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB). As the name suggests, this refers to the cluster of respiratory problems that happen after strenuous exercise and are caused by a narrowing of the airways. Typically, this manifests itself as a cough, sore throat and – of course – difficulty taking deep breaths.
Most commonly, EIB is an issue for asthmatics but many endurance athletes struggle with it as well – regardless of whether or not they have asthma.
For the purposes of the review in question, nine randomized trials were analyzed and all of them had positive results. Looked at together, the studies found that vitamin C supplementation – in fairly small doses that we’ll discuss later – halved the duration and frequency of EIB in both trained and untrained individuals.
Obviously, these findings are pretty encouraging for those of us who deal with asthma or other respiratory problems associated with exercise.
Putting It Into Practice
So, if you fall into the group of people who deal with EIB, should you start taking vitamin C. And how much?
Much more research is needed before the experts out there can really pin down any dosage recommendations. That being said, the positive results cited above were all found with doses ranging from .5 to 2g daily. Unfortunately, I could not find any information regarding the timing of the dose – whether the vitamin must be taken within a certain time-frame of the workout or can be taken at any point during the day.
It’s also true that you could be suffering with respiratory problems not associated with EIB. If that’s the case, you may see no relief at all from vitamin C supplementation. Here’s the good news, though: Vitamin C is cheap and has a fairly short list of risks associated with it. Especially when compared to other supplements. Because of that, you may want to experiment to see if a little extra vitamin C could help you deal with shortness of breath after a workout.