Vitamins C / E for muscle recovery

long story short, ive been using the same Endurox R4 product as a recovery drink for 10+ years after interval workouts and wondering if the science still holds up as I look for alternatives (supply issues). Endurox has been around for a long time, and back then, it was suggested that vitamins C and E were beneficial to muscle recovery / protein synthesis. They include 250mg of C and 215IU of E, as well as 52g carb / 13g protein (4:1).

In the last several years, the science may be less definitive on those benefits, and may even show a reduced adaptation response despite a decrease in cortisol and inflammation markers. I assume this is why most of the current common recovery drinks do not include C or E. Based purely on a study of 1, it seems like it helps recovery on back to back days, even if its just in my head, but given the challenge to continue sourcing, i may be moving on. Just curious if anyone else considers additional vitamins beneficial to muscle recovery beyond their chosen ratio of carbs:protein in their recovery drink.

Move on.

Only four (provisionally five) substances are recognized by experts in the field as having ergogenic benefits in non-deficient individuals:


and possibly:


(Evidence isn’t as strong for beta-alanine probably because it takes longer to have an effect.)

Other than the above, supplementation is unnecessary and possibly harmful.


Vitamin carbohydrate for recovery!

Seriously, Endurox is mostly dextrose (carbohydrate) and protein powder for $.73/ounce on Amazon.

You can buy dextrose for like $.20/ounce and mix up your own recovery shake with some whey protein powder for less. There’s nothing magical inside Endurox. You can also eat bowls of cereal and other sources of protein after workouts.

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what’s your recommended source of nitrate (besides beet root juice because that makes me :nauseated_face:), nitroglycerine, isosorbide mono/dinitrate, potassium/sodium nitrate?

That’s actually a tougher question than it might seem…

For starters, the effects of dietary nitrate on endurance exercise performance are rather small (~2%) , and seem to be reduced/absent the fitter you are. So, while, e.g., Kipchoge might tout the benefits of beetroot juice, it probably isn’t helping his marathon time any.

The effects of dietary nitrate on maximal neuromuscular power are clearly larger (i.e., 5-10%), and even trained athletes seem to benefit. Even so, I and others working in this area believe that the real target population for supplementation are individuals in whom nitric oxide bioavailability is reduced, e.g., patients with heart failure, elderly men and women.

As for the source, we just submitted a speculative mini-review titled “Beetroot juice and exercise performance: is there more to the story than just nitrate?”. The answer is, it isn’t clear, but all five of the exercise-related studies that have compared beetroot juice to a nitrate salt have reported that beetroot juice is superior in one way or another. Unfortunately, all of these studies suffer from significant limitations, such that it is difficult to draw any conclusion other than, “more research is needed”. We provided specific recommendations for how to improve studies of this issue in the summary (starting with actually measuring the nitrate concentration of the beetroot juice, something that far too few investigators actually do). (In terms of the blood pressure lowering effect, it seems to be all about the nitrate.)

I am not aware of any studies evaluating the ergogenic potential of organic nitrateS, i.e., drugs like TNG. However, they act via a different mechanism, so aside from accessibility, side effects, etc , really aren’t comparable to beetroot juice.

Finally, while there now a zillion products out there attempting to capitalize on the research that has been performed using beetroot juice, most don’t live up to their claims re. nitrate content. Thus, my standard advice for those who choose to supplement remains:

“Take two shots (of Beet It!) and call me in the morning.”

OTOH, my cardiologist colleague’s advice re. palatability is to treat it like a bad red wine: keep it really cold and drink it really fast.


I’ve found that all supplements I’ve ever tried don’t work even 1/10 as well as getting them from food.

If you need extra vitamin C= a few slices of red bell pepper will do, very efficient. and include some broccoli in your diet. Oranges are probably the WORST option to have more vitamin C, regardless of marketing pushing that on everyone’s mind (that’s the first thing people think of when they think of vitamin C… could not be more wrong. Calculate yourself the amount of oranges you need vs red bell pepper or fresh chilli for example. broccoli will also satisfy your vitamin K requirements and a few others).

9 calories of bell pepper:

vs 24 calories of orange:

If you need some extra vitamin E, tons of options. I love sunflower seeds (organic big ones), and I cook with sunflower oil (which you should anyway, as olive oil degrades at high temperature… no cook will ever use olive oil for cooking, unless it’s a very low temperature cooking).

For magnesium I include a lot of pumpkin seeds (that I like a lot).

With just 24g of pumpkin seeds: (i have edited my requirements, so the magnesium i require is much higher than the default value)

For potassium, much better with an avocado rather than a banana.

If you eat oranges and bananas for vitamin C and potassium, you’ll end up with an insane amount of fructose (and bloating/farts, that will make you absorb less of every other thing you eat…)

Similarly, any supplement that upsets your digestive system, will also upset the absorption of everything else you eat.

Remove foods that bloat you/make you fart. If broccoli upsets you, it means you need to cook them a bit more, maybe use vapor to cook them a bit longer, and eat more of the flower part rather than the hard part.

The results I’ve gotten by eliminating all supplements and getting them from foods instead, is just over the top. And also by eliminating useless fruits like orange, and having bell pepper or chilli instead, there’s really no comparison. But industries gotta keep selling jugs of sugar with an orange icon on it so… 99% chug orange juice down thinking of vitamin C…

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How long before a workout should I take beetroot in order to see maximum benefits? I usually do early morning workouts right after waking up, would there be any point in taking it :30 minutes before I begin my workout?

Not really.

Plasma nitrate values will peak approximately 2 h after ingestion; plasma nitrite might lag very slightly behind. After that, it is cleared mostly (~2/3rds) via the urine, with a half-life (in younger individuals with normal kidney function) with a half-life of 5-7.5 h.

What this means is that after allowing time for absorption, you have a multi-hour wide “window of opportunity” to potentially benefit, such that timing of intake relative to exercise isn’t critical (as long as you allow enough time).

Note that there is little-to-no data in humans supporting any benefit from “loading” for several days in a row, In fact, in this recent meta-analysis (the only individual participant meta-analysis on the topic of dietary nitrate and exercise performance, which IMO is the only type of meta-analysis that counts) we found that repeated ingestion seemed to associated with reduced improvements (in maximal neuromuscular power):

IOW, the effects of dietary nitrate appear to be entirely acute, i.e., present while the nitrate is there, gone when it is gone.


Good point about olive oil, sadly a lot of people do :confused:

There is a TR podcast where they discuss the potential downside to supplementing any antioxidant, in short : you don’t want to reduce the training load / response in some phases of the training cycle. So in between races yes, during a build or base block, maybe think twice.

For hypertrophy, I believe you want to avoid Vitamin C as the inflammation in the muscle is what causes the growth/hypertrophic response. Not sure if this applied to endurance too but I try and space VitC consumption as far away from training as possible.
Source: read some studies a few years ago (laugh)

Vit C requirement is next to 0 if you don’t eat carbs, note.

That is also why eskimos do not develop scurvy. However, the ones that trade with westerners, and end up eating carbs, develop scurvy (specifying since the most parroted answer is: ‘‘oh they have different genetics’’… no, they develop scurvy too if they eat carbs and don’t have vit. c. Vit C is mainly needed to process carbs.

If you don’t have a bit of a mathematical mindset and very proficient in statistics, just reading a ‘‘study’’ on some blog will not really tell you anything. I’d say a very small percentage are maybe 75% objective, and even then, you must know how to interpret the findings, the methodology, etc.

99.9% of the studies are made with the intent to sell something (otherwise, why would you fund the study in the first place…).

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Inuits don’t develop scurvy simply because the get enough in their diet. It has nothing to do with their low carbohydrate intake.

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Oh yea? And where do you think they get vitamin C from? There are TRACE amounts in some of the organs of the meat they eat (mainly some interiors like heart or something of the kind… but it’s TRACE).

And they do infact develop scurvy if they eat carbs. Because they do not have any relevant amount of vitamin C in their diet.

‘‘nothing to do with carb intake’’. If you don’t have carbs, the amount of vitamin C you need is drastically reduced (i.e. the trace amounts will be enough). Scurvy occurs from lack of vitamin C (if you eat carbs…)

Inuits don’t get scurvy simply because there is enough vitamin C in their traditional diet, mostly from algae:

Despite what quacks like Maffetone might claim, the dietary requirement for vitamin C is not dependent on your carbohydrate intake.


So explain why inuits who introduce carbs gets scurvy.

So you’re also saying, that carbs do not impair at all the absorption of vitamin C?

The carbs replace the things they’re eating that are high in Vitamin C?

Correlation is not causation.


“Objection, Your Honor: assumes facts not in evidence.”


*legal substances :wink: