Many people think vitamin C is an unimportant nutrient, but nothing could be further from the truth. Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is one of the best-known antioxidants. It was first made famous by the work of Linus Pauling, two-time Nobel laureate who pioneered much of the research on the health benefits of vitamin C.
Inside your body, vitamin C performs several important functions:
- Neutralizing harmful free radicals
- Recycling vital antioxidants
- Boosting the activity of immune system cells
- Helping to produce collagen
- Assisting in the body’s production of L-carnitine
In fact, more research has been done on the health benefits of vitamin C than any other nutrient. This important vitamin can help to delay the onset of cataracts by 10 years. It also helps to promote immune, bone, and joint health. But perhaps most importantly, vitamin C supports your heart.
Vitamin C and Cardiovascular Health
Vitamin C benefits your heart in several important ways, by helping to:
- Prevent coronary artery disease by enhancing the body’s level of natural glutathione, a potent free radical scavenger that protects the arteries. In fact, vitamin C deficiency is linked with higher rates of heart attacks.
- Inhibit the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, which helps to prevent it from building up in the arteries.
- Strengthen the blood vessel walls by enabling the synthesis of collagen in the connective tissue of the arterial walls. Weakened collagen can permit noxious oxidized LDL, homocysteine, Lp(a), cigarette smoke, and heavy metals to cause inflammatory reactions in the vascular lining—which starts the atherosclerotic plaque formation process.
- Improve vasodilation, which is the ability of the heart’s arteries to widen when more blood is needed—a key factor in preventing heart disease. Vitamin C helps by increasing the availability of nitric oxide (NO), a vasodilator.
Plus, vitamin C is inversely linked with hypertension—meaning higher levels of vitamin C are associated with lower levels of high blood pressure.
Do You Have Enough Vitamin C for Your Heart?
Vitamin C is an “essential” nutrient, meaning our bodies don’t manufacture it—so you need to get it from foods or supplements. For your heart and overall health, I recommend taking 1,000 mg of vitamin C in the morning.
After starting your day with 1,000 mg of supplemental vitamin C, it’s also important to include foods rich in vitamin C in your diet, such as broccoli, tomatoes, strawberries, and oranges.