In part three of this vitamin C series, let’s take a look at a burning question. Can this famous nutrient help prevent heart disease? Plus, read on to find out 12 other uses of vitamin C on top of those explored in this series.
Patients with hardening of the arteries cannot relax their blood vessels to allow more blood to flow to the vital organs such as the heart (during a heart attack) or the brain (during a stroke). This inability to relax the coronary arteries causes chest pain. There are many high-quality studies showing that vitamin C consistently caused blood vessels in these individuals to relax.
The effects of vitamin C on high blood pressure are mixed. Two randomized controlled studies using 500 mg a day of supplemental vitamin C showed virtually opposite results: one showed a decrease in blood pressure; and the other one showing no reduction or even an increase. It is to be noted that the famous DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, which successfully lowered blood pressure without the addition of any blood pressure lowering drug, contains a high amount of vitamin C (266 mg a day, compared with 133 mg a day in the control group). Therefore, there is an urgent need to conduct a well-designed study to definitively demonstrate the potential benefit of vitamin C on high blood pressure.
But, in terms of heart disease, there are several large population studies that have shown that supplementation with vitamin C failed to reduce the number of deaths from heart disease. All in all, there is not enough evidence to routinely recommend vitamin supplements for the prevention of heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends a diet rich in antioxidants, but concludes that there is insufficient evidence for any specific recommendations for vitamin supplementation, including vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene.
Preliminary evidence suggests that vitamin C might be effective in the following conditions:
— Age-related macular degeneration
— Iron absorption
— Albumin loss in diabetes
— Gallbladder disease in women
— Gastritis associated with “Helicobacter pylori”
— HIV transmission during breastfeeding
— Lead toxicity
— Nitrate tolerance in patients taking nitroglycerin
— Sunburn (when used together with vitamin E)
— Wrinkled skin (topical vitamin C)
— Reflex sympathetic dystrophy