Vitamin C & Heart Disease
Heart disease is the #1 cause of death worldwide and the third leading cause of death in the United States, but it can be prevented through lifestyle choices such as diet, exercise, and stress reduction. Vitamin C, in particular, is one of the important dietary factors in the prevention of heart disease. And just how does vitamin C protect the heart?
- Vitamin C has been shown to inhibit the oxidation of low density lipoprotein (LDL cholesterol), which is a risk factor for heart disease. (1)
- Vitamin C also has the ability to lower blood pressure by enhancing nitric oxide production and bioavailability, which encourages vasodilation. (2)
Vitamin C Supplementation for Heart Disease
Several studies have documented the positive impacts on heart health from vitamin C supplementation.
- A meta-analysis of 9 studies found that after 10 years, people who took at least 700 mg of vitamin C daily had a 25% lower risk of heart disease than those who did not take a vitamin C supplement. (3)
- Along similar lines, Ye and Song (4) found that supplementing with at least 500 mg/day of vitamin C reduced LDL by approximately 7.9 mg/dL and decreased serum triglycerides by 20.1 mg/dL.
- Additionally, an analysis of the Nurse’s Health Study (5) found that, after 16 years of follow up, women who took vitamin C supplements had a 28% lower risk of cardiovascular disease than those who didn’t use any supplements.
- Lastly, low vitamin C status may be a risk factor for heart disease death. Wang et al. (6) found that those with normal blood values of vitamin C had a 38% lower risk of death from heart disease than those with low vitamin C status.
The action of vitamin C as the “great maternal sacrificial antioxidant” decreases oxidative stress throughout the entire body, and thus benefits the entire body—including the heart.
- Moser, M. A., and O. K. Chun. 2016. Vitamin C and heart health: A review based on findings from epidemiologic studies. International Journal of Molecular Sciences 17(8): E1328.
- Huang, A., et al. 2000. Ascorbic acid enhances endothelial nitric-oxide synthase activity by increasing intracellular tetrahydrobiopterin. The Journal of Biological Chemistry 275(23):17399-17406.
- Knekt, P., et al. 2004. Antioxidant vitamins and coronary heart disease risk: A pooled analysis of 9 cohorts. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 80(6):1508-1520.
- Ye, Z., and H. Song. 2008. Antioxidant vitamins intake and the risk of coronary heart disease: Meta-analysis of cohort studies. European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation 15(1):26-34.
- Osganian, S. K., et al. 2003. Vitamin C and risk of coronary heart disease in women. Journal of the American College of Cardiology 42(2):246-252.
- Wang, S. M., et al. 2018. Association of plasma vitamin C concentration to total and cause-specific mortality: A 16-year prospective study in China. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 72(12):1076-1082.