Life Extension Update
Vitamin C levels correlate with fat oxidation
A study presented on April 3, 2006 at the Experimental Biology 2006 conference held in San Francisco found that supplementing with vitamin C improved fat oxidation in obese men and women. Fat oxidation refers to the body’s ability to utilize fat as a fuel source during exercise as well as rest. Insufficient blood levels of vitamin C have been correlated with increased waist measurements and body fat.
For the current double-blind study, researchers at Arizona State University placed 20 obese men and women on a low fat diet designed to result in an approximate two pound per week loss over a four week period. The diet provided 67 percent of the US recommended daily allowance of vitamin C. One group of participants was administered 500 milligrams vitamin C per day, while the remainder received a placebo.
Prior to beginning the study, participants with the lowest blood levels of vitamin C were found to have greater body fat mass and a reduced ability to oxidize fat compared with less obese subjects. At the end of the four week trial, both groups lost the same amount of weight, yet body fat loss was slightly greater in the group that received vitamin C. Blood levels of vitamin C increased by 30 percent among those who received the vitamin and declined by 27 percent in participants who received the placebo. Subjects who did not receive vitamin C experienced an 11 percent reduction in their ability to oxidize fat compared to their ability before the study.
Vitamin C is essential for the body’s synthesis of carnitine, which transports fat molecules to the site of fat oxidation in the cells. Insufficient access to fat as an energy source can lead to fatigue and an accumulation of fat in the tissues.
Bonnie Beezhold, a graduate student at Arizona State University who presented the study’s findings, observed that vitamin C deficiency now affects 15 percent of American adults, compared to 3 to 5 percent a quarter of a century ago. Because vitamin C is destroyed by exposure to light, oxygen and heat, processed food may be responsible in part for this decline.
The research team is now studying whether vitamin C status is associated with a gradual gain in body fat in people who are not dieting.
When it comes to weight loss, fiber has not received the attention it deserves. The recent focus on carbohydrates has led some people to reduce their intake of whole fruits and some vegetables because these foods contain carbohydrates. By doing this, those dieters deprive themselves of the many benefits of a naturally fiber-rich food source. According to the American Heart Association (AHA) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI), Americans should consume about 30 g or more of fiber every day. The actual average consumption, however, is between 12 and 17 g (AHA 2005; NCI 2005).
Consumed before a meal, soluble fiber has multiple benefits. First, it is filling and causes people to eat less because they are satiated sooner. Anecdotally, LE has received reports that some people can actually cut the size of their meals in half by consuming a glass of soluble fiber mix before eating.
Chromium polynicotinate (600 mcg daily for two months) given to modestly dieting and exercising African-American women caused a significant loss of fat and sparing of muscle compared with placebo (Crawford et al 1999). A formula including chromium polynicotinate reduced appetite, inhibited fat synthesis, and decreased body weight in 60 moderately obese subjects in an eight-week randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial (Preuss et al 2004). Another double blind, four-week trial with a formula including chromium increased the rate of body fat loss and helped to maintain muscle mass (Hoeger et al 1998).
Although chromium has received considerable media attention, scientific literature shows that magnesium has a more important role in regulating carbohydrate metabolism. Magnesium is involved in a number of reactions required for cells to uptake and metabolize glucose. Magnesium deficiency causes insulin resistance and elevated blood sugar levels (Paolisso et al 1990; Nadler et al 1993; Nadler et al 1995; Lefebvre et al 1994).
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