We all know that vitamin C is good for us. But can it be so good that it can replace exercise?

That’s what it seems like, according to the headlines describing a new study—at least when it comes to some aspects of heart health. Overweight people can continue to sit around and watch TV, and as long as they pop some vitamin pills every day, they can avoid pesky constricted blood vessels.

“Incorporating an exercise regimen into a daily routine can be challenging,” says the report’s abstract, as if exercise weren’t as essential to our health as eating well.

But we can’t become a nation of couch-dwellers just yet. The study looked at the narrow effects of vitamin C on the vessel-constricting protein endothelin-1 (aka ET-1), which shows “elevated activity in the blood vessels of overweight and obese adults.” The usual prescription is exercise, but this study found that vitamin C supplements in daily 500 mg doses were just as good as a good walk in reducing vessel-constriction in a small sample of 35 overweight and obese subjects.

What the study doesn’t show is that vitamin C can replace exercise, something we know intuitively, because we’re not all skinny and fit despite the supplements we swallow. “I and the other authors want to point out that vitamin C is, in fact, not an exercise replacement, but a good option for adults with overweight [sic] and obesity who can’t exercise,” the study’s lead author, Caitlin Dow, told the Washington Post.

Which is a shame, because although I love exercise, I love food even more. And if eating an extra six oranges a day (an orange contains around 78 mg of vitamin C) could help keep the weight off, wouldn’t that be sweet?


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