Vitamins have gotten a rather bad rap in the last few years because some research studies have not supported their use for specific purposes following the interpretation of their results. To say the least, news regarding the use of vitamins for better health has been quite disparaging. I’ve even heard some scientists and health experts purporting that vitamins are “a waste of money.” It’s no surprise, then, that people are generally very confused regarding the use of vitamins for better health.
However, some nutrients typically consumed in supplement form are getting some good press lately.
It seems that vitamin C—a vitamin that is frequently taken in supplement form—is still in favor. And some new research I came across has indicated that lower blood levels of vitamin C may be associated with an increased risk of intracranial hemorrhage—when spontaneous hemorrhages in the brain caused by leaky cerebral arteries occur, which often leads to stroke, brain damage, and/or disability.
The possible role that vitamin C depletion plays in this very serious medical condition is most likely due to the fact that vitamin C is crucial for several different physiological processes that can influence blood flow throughout the brain.
Vitamin C is a water-soluble antioxidant that prevents the damage to artery walls from free radicals. If these free radicals were left to damage artery walls, it would make the arteries susceptible to leakage. This vitamin can also reduce high levels of inflammation inside the artery wall and the accumulation of adhesion particles. Vitamin C also helps improve the secretion of an enzyme called nitrous oxide, which serves to relax artery walls, causing a reduction in blood pressure.
However, the most important role for vitamin C in this case is the effect it has upon the strength of the artery walls. Adequate amounts of vitamin C are required to manufacture type III collagen. This type of collagen acts to support the connective tissues that give the artery wall its inherent strength and support. (Think of this as a fine mesh that holds everything together.) Without an adequate amount of this type of collagen synthesis, the smaller arteries travelling throughout your brain may become weakened, begin to leak, bulge, and fail, and cause massive bleeds.
As I read in this new research, the average blood concentrations of 65 participants who suffered a spontaneous cerebral hemorrhage were much lower than the matched, healthy control group. The other factors that significantly increased the risk were high blood pressure, obesity, and excessive alcohol consumption.
But the most interesting finding in this new research was the hospital admissions data.
People who were admitted to the neurology ward in the hospital that had normal levels of blood vitamin C were kept for an average of 9.8 days; this is compared to patients who had low levels of vitamin C having to stay at the hospital for an average of 18.2 days! This was due to delayed healing and opportunistic infections—areas in which vitamin C may play a significantly greater role, as this vitamin is crucial in wound repair and strong immune function.
Although other experts claim that this vitamin is NOT required unless there is a demonstrated deficiency, I disagree. There also have been claims that you can get adequate amounts of this vitamin from food alone, since 120 milligrams (mg) per day is the recommended daily allowance.
In my professional opinion, adults need at least 500 mg of vitamin C every day. I believe that if people regularly took this larger amount of vitamin C, there would be a noticeable reduction in viral infections, skin infections, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and cataracts, and an overall improvement in immunity.
Sources for Today’s Article:
Anderson, P., “Low Vitamin C Linked to Intracerebral Hemorrhage,” Medscape web site, May 1, 2014; http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/820660.
66th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology, April 26 to May 3, 2014 (Abstract 3101).