Vitamin C is a Antioxidant. Works with and recycles vitamin E; Keeps blood vessels healthy; raises ‘good’ & lowers Lp(a) cholesterol; speeds up bowel, reduces length & severity of colds. Vitamin C — along with the amino acids proline and lysine — is essential for the formation of healthy collagen. Many vitamins and minerals act as catalysts to support the manufacture of proteins. In the case of collagen, however, vitamin C is actually used up as it combines with two amino acids — lysine and proline — to form pro-collagen. Pro-collagen is then used to manufacture one of several types of collagen found in different tissues throughout the body.
A new study led by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, adds to the evidence that vitamin C supplements can lower concentrations of C-reactive protein (CRP), a central biomarker of inflammation that has been shown to be a powerful predictor of heart disease and diabetes. The same study found no benefit from daily doses of vitamin E, another antioxidant.
This study comes just days after a larger, eight-year clinical trial led by researchers at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital failed to show that vitamins C or E could cut the risk of heart attacks or strokes.
That trial does not necessarily close the books on the benefits of vitamin C for cardiovascular health, according to Gladys Block, UC Berkeley professor emeritus of epidemiology and public health nutrition and lead author of the study looking at vitamins C and E and their impact on CRP levels. She pointed out that the Brigham and Women’s Hospital study did not screen study participants for elevations in CRP – defined by the American Heart Association as 1 milligram per liter or greater – which is an important distinction in determining who might benefit from taking vitamin C.
The study led by Block, currently online and scheduled to appear in the Jan. 1 issue of the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine, shows that for healthy, non-smoking adults with an elevated level of CRP, a daily dose of vitamin C lowered levels of the inflammation biomarker after two months compared with those who took a placebo. However, participants who did not start out with elevated CRP levels saw no benefit from vitamin C supplementation.
"This is an important distinction; treatment with vitamin C is ineffective in persons whose levels of CRP are less than 1 milligram per liter, but very effective for those with higher levels," said Block. "Grouping people with elevated CRP levels with those who have lower levels can mask the effects of vitamin C. Common sense suggests, and our study confirms, that biomarkers are only likely to be reduced if they are not already low."
A 10-year study from UCLA showed that in a population of more than 11,000 US adults aged 25-74, men who took 800 mg of vitamin C daily lived about six years longer than men who took only 60 mg of vitamin C daily. Even after controlling for smoking, education, race, diseases, and other factors affecting survival, higher vitamin C intake in men still predicted lower mortality. Increased vitamin C intake was likewise associated with greater longevity in women. Higher vitamin C intake reduced cardiovascular deaths by 42% in men and 25% in women.
Several recent studies suggest that ensuring optimal vitamin C status not only protects against cardiovascular disease, but also greatly lessens the risk of suffering a life-threatening heart attack.
For example, in a Finnish study of middle-aged men without evidence of pre-existing heart disease, men who were deficient in vitamin C were 3.5 times more likely to suffer heart attacks compared to those who were not deficient in the vitamin, even after adjusting for smoking and other pertinent risk factors. This led the researchers to propose that vitamin C deficiency, as assessed by low plasma concentration, is a risk factor for heart attack.
Also if used in combination with other antioxidants, such as vitamin E and flavonoids, vitamin C may combat the deteriorative effects of aging (such as wrinkles) caused by free-radical damage. It may also help you live longer. In one study, men who took more than 300 mg of vitamin C a day (from food and supplements) lived longer than men who consumed less than 50 mg a day.