Vitamin C and Testosterone: The Protective Effects of Ascorbic Acid

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Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is likely the most researched, well known, and most-used nutritional supplement in the whole World. Not only that, but it’s also safe, cheap, and available pretty much all-around the globe.

But what about the effects of vitamin C on male testosterone levels? That’s a topic not so often talked about.

At least until now:

 

Ascorbic Acid and Testosterone Levels

ascorbic acid and testosterone levelsVitamin C is an essential vitamin for human survival, and like I said above, one of the cheapest, safest, and most widely used nutritional supplements in the World.

It’s water-soluble, and its main function in the body is to serve as an antioxidant…

…However, what most people don’t know, is that vitamin C can also be a pro-oxidant. How it acts depends on what the body needs at any given time.

Ascorbic acid is also needed in the biosynthesis of multiple bodily enzymes…

…And when used in combination with garlic, vitamin C is ridiculously effective at increasing nitric oxide levels, and therefore also blood flow.

But how does the World’s most used vitamin affect male testosterone levels? That’s what we’re about to find out:

a) First of, there’s an in-vitro (test tube) study where it was found that vitamin C as an electron donor, can regenerate damaged testosterone molecules by up to 58%. In a similar in-vitro study, vitamin C was able to increase testosterone levels in testicular leydig cells due to enzyme upregulation.

b) Several animal studies have shown that vitamin C protects the testicular leydig cells from oxidative stressors, and thus, preserves testosterone levels from; alcohol, noise-stress, lead, burns, cadmium, antibiotics, arsenic, PCBs, aluminum, alfatoxin, and endosulfan. Similar protective effects have been seen in humans too.

c) So, ascorbic acid clearly preserves testosterone molecules from oxidative damage, but could it increase testosterone levels in healthy gonads? This rodent study suggests so, and in this human study, vitamin C significantly increased sperm quality, motility, and volume. However the only two human studies that I’m aware of which examined vitamin C’s direct effects on testosterone levels, showed no significant increases in T after ascorbic acid supplementation (study, study).

d) The last thing worth mentioning here, is the fact that vitamin C supplementation is known for its cortisol (stress hormone) lowering effects. This in turn should improve the testosterone:cortisol ratio more in favor of testosterone, creating a more anabolic environment in the body (study, study, study, study).


So who could benefit from vitamin C supplementation?

Answer: Well, for starters pretty much anyone who wants to protect their balls from oxidative damage. If you’re exposed to any of the things in point “b)” above, then increased ascorbic acid intake (and for that matter other antioxidants too) would be advisable, just to preserve testosterone molecules from cellular damage.

Another group that could benefit from extra vitamin C intake would be people who train hard, as ascorbic acid helps in suppressing the exercise induced rise in cortisol, and therefore would improve the testosterone to cortisol ratio in favor of anabolism.

However, if you don’t train hard, and if you suspect that your diet and overall health is in such a good order that there’s no oxidative damage going on in the ballsack, then vitamin C supplementation is probably not going to do much for your hormones.


How much ascorbic acid should you take?

Answer: In a healthy scenario, the human body has a pool of vitamin C of about 2 grams. This can be maintained with ~100 mg’s of daily ascorbic acid supplementation, hence why the RDA of vitamin C is 100-200 mg’s. This low amount can be easily attained through the diet (citrus fruits, kiwi, etc), or from a high quality multi-vitamin.

However, if you’re under stress, and/or exposed to compounds that cause oxidative stress in the body, a higher dose (1-5 grams) of vitamin C could be taken to protect the leydig cells from damage.

To lower the exercise induced rise in cortisol, 1-3 grams of ascorbic acid should be enough.


What’s the best form of vitamin C to supplement with?

Answer: I’m personally a big fan of raw whole-food vitamins and minerals. Thus, why I recommend this 100% food based ascorbic acid supplement which is made from acerola cherries. For a more cost-effective alternative, pure bulk vitamin C powder would be fine too. For people who can’t handle acidic compounds (GERD, etc) Ester-C would be the best option.

Also, if your goal is only to maintain the body’s natural pool of vitamin C, you should be covered just by eating some citrus fruits on a daily basis, or by taking a multi-vitamin that includes at least 100 mg’s of ascorbic acid.

 

Conclusion

Does vitamin C increase testosterone levels? Not directly if you believe the latest human studies, and this is likely due to the fact that in a healthy scenario, the human body maintains a pool of available vitamin C in various tissues (testicles, pituiary gland, thrydoid, liver, etc).

However, supplemental ascorbic acid does protect testosterone molecules exceptionally well from oxidative damage during the times of stress. Probably because the bodily pool is drained faster when exposed to various stressors.

And that’s also why I believe most men could benefit from extra vitamin C supplementation. Because of the modern day diet of processed foods, environmental toxins, obesity, and sedentary lifestyles, most men do have some oxidative stress going on inside their gonads.

The best ways to get yourself enough vitamin C would be from a diet consisting of citrus fruits, through a high-quality multi-vitamin, from natural berry powders, or from a bulk ascorbic acid supplement.

Ali Kuoppala

Ali Kuoppala is the founder of Anabolic Men, and an Independent Researcher that has been credited with organizing the findings that have helped thousands of men reach hormonal balance. alikuoppala @anabolicmen
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14 Comments

  1. Udinov Keiv on 21/03/2015 at 13:04

    You said if taken with Garlic, it will boost nitric oxide by 200% , so that means it will increase Testosterone..

  2. vlade on 21/03/2015 at 23:46

    Hey Ali,

    Amazing website man, you have helped me tremendously. I have a question, should I take DIM and Indole 3 carbinol together? Which one is better to take? I am trying to flush out as much estrogen as I can. Also, you advocate calcium D glucarate for estrogen removal, but I have seen study’s saying that it also flushes testosterone. If you can give a word on that it would be great. Cheers!

  3. Chris @ 19th Century Alpha on 23/03/2015 at 15:10

    Currently I take 2 grams daily after I workout or 2 grams in the evening on non workout days. I have taken as much as 6 grams daily as a maintenance in the past. Did you find too high a dosage to bring any negative sides? While it’s clear when my system is “full”, I never saw any true negatives. I just felt like I was wasting money. On a side note, I still did not receive notice of the new article.

    • vlade on 23/03/2015 at 22:18

      I know that high doses like 60 grams can cause diarrhea but taking 6 to 10 grams is beneficial to your adrenals because they are basically made from vitamin C.

      • Chris @ 19th Century Alpha on 24/03/2015 at 01:20

        When I mentioned being “full”, I was referring to more of a spill over or the squirts. I have found that unless my immune system is compromised, I can’t get anywhere near 10 grams a day. 4-5 is a pretty safe number.

        • vlade on 24/03/2015 at 06:56

          That is about the amount I get as well and that seems to be working good for me too.

  4. Eli Zìháo on 26/03/2015 at 21:57

    This is why pineapple is a great idea post-workout. One slice of pineapple contains nearly 100 % of the daily value of vitamin c + the enzyme bromelain naturally found in the pineapple. Bromelain is a digestive enzyme that helps and speeds up the digestion of protein, this is crucial after some hard lifting. Pineapple + whey = results?

  5. j parks on 11/07/2015 at 16:23

    typically you are confused what Vitamin C really is. Most think it is just the ascorbic acid portion. That is only 9% of the actual molecule that ascorbic acid was derived from. While it is effective, you are missing the main part of real, whole Vitamin C

  6. Donsods on 10/03/2016 at 03:35

    Posts on the Testshock forum talk about how regular C supplements kill gut probiotocs. Would buffered C solve this problem?

  7. […] are high in Vitamin C and packed full of antioxidants. They contain quercetin, which is also outstanding for helping […]

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