High doses of vitamin C plus E reduce strength training-induced improvements in areal bone mineral density in elderly men

Eur J Appl Physiol. 2017 Jun;117(6):1073-1084. doi: 10.1007/s00421-017-3588-y. Epub 2017 Apr 5.


Purpose: Resistance training is beneficial for maintaining bone mass. We aimed to investigate the skeletal effects of high doses of antioxidants [vitamin C + E (α-tocopherol)] supplementation during 12-week supervised strength training in healthy, elderly men METHODS: Design: double-blinded randomized placebo-controlled study. Participants followed a supervised, undulating periodic exercise program with weekly adjusted load: 3 sessions/week and 3-15 repetitions maximum (RM) sets/exercise. The control group (CG, n = 17, 67 ± 5 years) received placebo and the antioxidant group (AO, n = 16, 70 ± 7 years) 1000 mg vitamin C + 235 mg vitamin E, daily. Areal bone mineral density (aBMD) at whole body, lumbar spine (L1-L4), total hip, and femoral neck were measured by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry and muscle strength by 1RM. Serum analyses of bone-related factors and adipokines were performed.

Results: In the CG, total hip aBMD increased by 1.0% (CI: 0.3-1.7) versus pretest and lumbar spine aBMD increased by 0.9% (CI: -0.2 to 2.0) compared to the AO. In the CG, there was an increase in serum concentrations of insulin-like growth factor 1 [+27.3% (CI: -0.3 to 54.9)] and leptin [+31.2% (CI: 9.8-52.6)) versus pretest, and a decrease in sclerostin [-9.9% (CI: 4.4-15.3)] versus pretest and versus AO. Serum bone formation markers P1NP and osteocalcin increased in both groups, while the bone resorption marker CTX-1 remained unchanged.

Conclusion: High doses of antioxidant supplementations may constrain the favorable skeletal benefits of 12 weeks of resistance exercise in healthy elderly men.

Keywords: Bone mineral density; Elderly men; Strength training; Vitamin C + E.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Ascorbic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Ascorbic Acid / pharmacology*
  • Bone Density*
  • Bone Development
  • Bone and Bones / drug effects
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Resistance Training*
  • Vitamin E / administration & dosage
  • Vitamin E / pharmacology*
  • Vitamins / administration & dosage
  • Vitamins / pharmacology*


  • Vitamins
  • Vitamin E
  • Ascorbic Acid