There is a fascinating world of research on the health benefits of food, vitamins and antioxidants. Vitamin C has long gotten its fair share, with studies on its use in preventing (and even treating) everything from the common cold, cancer and heart disease. The main question that remains is how effective it is? Does it really make a significant difference?
How vitamin C could help prevent heart disease
The answers vary, partly because there can be many potential variables in long-term studies. However evidence does suggest that vitamin C could help protect arteries against damage, slow down the progression of atherosclerosis (the hardening of arteries), and even help keep arteries flexible. It’s also know that those with low vitamin C levels are more likely to have a heart attack, stroke or peripheral artery disease.
Overarching studies are promising
Two pooling studies that pulled together the many studies done on this subject found evidence that vitamin C could be helpful in preventing heart disease both in supplement form and food. However, it’s important to note that while there was a clear link between diets high in vitamin C and less risk of heart disease, that the protective link could be caused by one of the many other beneficial elements in a healthy diet, and not just the vitamin C.
We should be getting more vitamin C than we are
Because there is a strong enough link between vitamin C and many health benefits, some scientists are saying that our daily recommended amount should be double what it currently is. Most agree that getting that amount through a diet heavy in fresh vegetables and fruit (one of the best sources of vitamin C) is ideal. However, since few achieve a diet so well balanced, supplemental use of vitamin C is often recommended. It's important to consider that even small deficiencies of vitamin C can lead to fatigue, lethargy, and malaise, while healthier vitamin C levels can help reduce inflammation and high blood pressure. I was disturbed to find out that a significant percentage of Americans were found to to be low in this important vitamin, and was inspired to make sure I was getting enough myself.
My conclusion is that vitamin C has a lot to offer us, and could be even more beneficial than many of us know. Eating a diet high in vitamin C is ideal, and supplementing is a back-up plan.
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