Vitamin C and Inflammation in Cardiovascular Disease.




Am J Clin Nutr

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Vitamin C corrects the world's oldest known nutritional deficiency, the disease scurvy. It was first isolated by Albert Szent Gyorgyi in 1928. Today, scientists know that humans are one of the few species that cannot manufacture vitamin C in the body. Humans must depend on diet or nutritional supplements as the source of this vitamin. Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin that is stored in many tissues throughout the body, but the adrenal glands contain the highest concentration. The best sources of vitamin C are fresh fruits, especially citrus fruits, strawberries, cantaloupe and currants. Fresh vegetables, especially Brussels sprouts, collard greens, lettuce, cabbage, peas, and asparagus are also good sources. Because of its acid content, physicians recommend taking a buffered form of vitamin C if you are taking it in higher doses.

Vitamin C has been heavily researched for its role in a long list of functions in the body. First, it is involved with the production of collagen and elastin, which are necessary for the health of skin, tendons, joints, bones, teeth and blood vessels. Second, vitamin C functions as an antioxidant, thus helping to limit damage to the body from free radicals. It also enhances the antioxidant activity of vitamin E. Next, vitamin C is important for production of the hormones that help the body respond to physical stress. Also, vitamin C may reduce some inflammatory reactions because it possesses anti-histamine activity. Finally, vitamin C can help the body rid itself of heavy metal toxins like mercury, lead, cadmium and nickel.

A recent study investigated dietary vitamin C and inflammation and hemostasis (the stoppage of bleeding) associated with cardiovascular disease. This study involved 3,258 healthy British men between the ages of 60 and 79. Fruit, vegetable and vitamin C intake were assessed using a food-frequency questionnaire. The results showed that serum levels of vitamin C and fruit and vegetable intake were inversely associated with markers of inflammation and hemostasis. The authors concluded that, “The findings suggest that vitamin C has antiinflammatory effects and is associated with lower endothelial dysfunction in men with no history of cardiovascular disease or diabetes.”1


1. Wannamethee SG, et al. Association of vitamin C status, fruit and vegetable intakes, and markers of inflammation and hemostasis. Am J Clin Nutr. Mar 2006;83(3):567-74.