Research by Gleeson and Davison, (2006) recognises the importance of vitamin C for overall health and wellbeing, as well as the role of vitamin C in reducing total cortisol levels, particularly after exercise induced stress.
The exercise : stress relationship
Seems funny how most of us go to the gym because it relieves tension and stress, so why on earth is exercise and stress mentioned in the same sentence? Well, too much of anything is usually a no no, and exercise is no exception to this rule. Exercise is a very important stimulus for health and wellbeing, it is crucial for inducing physiological improvement… so long as there is adequate recovery time!
Rest and recovery time is critical for a plethora of psychological and physiological reasons, chief among these reasons is the need to keep stress hormones at bay. Exercise places strain on the body, this is necessary to invoke physiological change and adaptation, but if stress hormones such as cortisol are allowed to elevate, then several health problems can follow. One of the main problems is overtraining syndrome which is a condition that sees an otherwise health conscious individual become poorly. The person may suffer with central nervous system fatigue which is responsible for feelings of lethargy, low mood, emotional stress and fatigue, irritability and an increased risk of injury.
Vitamin C and stress hormone control
Cortisol is an important stress hormone, but it needs to be controlled. If levels are high due to excessive exercise, then rest is the first course of action. If low mood and wellbeing persists then it may be that better dietary measures need to be implemented, starting with a balanced, nutrient dense diet that is rich in antioxidants… particularly vitamin C.
Gleeson and Davison, (2006) established that vitamin C supplementation over time increases plasma antioxidant capacity and attenuates (reduces the effect) the cortisol response to exercise. Basically, the better your vitamin C level, the lower the damaging effect cortisol has on your body.
Gleeson, M & Davison, G. (2006). The effect of 2 weeks vitamin C supplementation on immunoendocrine responses to 2.5 h cycling exercise in man. European Journal of Applied Physiology. 97(4)