C Better Heart Health

By David Blyweiss, Advanced Natural Wellness

Ask any of my patients and they’ll tell you that I’m a big fan of vitamin C. It’s one of the most important nutrients you can take for optimal health and it’s been linked to preventing everything from cancer to the common cold. But here’s something I’ll bet you didn’t know: Vitamin C can also boost the health of your heart.

In fact, if you don’t get enough of this crucial nutrient, you could likely be damaging the lining of your arteries—and this can lead to atherosclerosis. Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that has been shown to prevent the oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol that contributes to the buildup of artery-clogging plaque.

There is also evidence that taking at least 1,000 mg. of vitamin C increased HDL (good) cholesterol levels in the blood. HDL cholesterol takes up excess cholesterol from cells and returns it to the liver so that it can be shuttled out of the body.

Vitamin C also lowers C-reactive protein (CRP), a biomarker of inflammation that has been shown to be a powerful predictor of heart disease. A study led by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley recently found that for healthy, non-smoking adults with high CRP levels, taking a daily dose of 1,000 mg. of vitamin C lowered CRP levels by 34 percent after two months compared to a placebo.
But, as good as vitamin C is on its own, it’s even better when you combine it with garlic. There’s new evidence that taking garlic and vitamin C supplements together may reduce blood pressure.

Scientists from New York’s Pharmaceutical Research Institute at Albany College of Pharmacy recruited six people with marginally high blood pressure (140/90 mmHg). With one-week breaks between each course, subjects completed ten-day doses of vitamin C alone (2,000 mg. per day), then garlic capsules alone (2,500 mg. per day of freeze-dried bulb powder), and finally, a combination of the two.

Taking vitamin C by itself didn’t affect the subjects’ blood pressure. Garlic alone reduced systolic blood pressure (the top number), but not diastolic pressure (the bottom number). But taken together, vitamin C and garlic reduced systolic levels to between 110 and 120 and diastolic to 75 to 80.
Blood pressure dropped because the cells lining the walls of the blood vessels were producing more nitric oxide, a compound that helps to regulate blood pressure and immunity, as well as many other bodily functions. Taking garlic supplements alone caused a twofold increase in cellular nitric oxide production. But combining garlic and vitamin C resulted in a threefold increase.

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Although it’s important to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables high in this nutrient, I recommended adding between 1,000 and 3,000 mg. of vitamin C daily with meals. While extremely high amounts of vitamin C may cause diarrhea, this is a very safe vitamin for most people. Just be aware that large doses of vitamin C should be avoided by anyone suffering from kidney stones. And people taking warfarin (Coumadin) shouldn’t supplement with this antioxidant at all. If you fall into either of these two groups, check with your doctor before starting a vitamin C regimen.
A little bit of prevention today, in the form of supplemental C, can potentially save you a great deal of heart ache tomorrow.


Adam S. Cellular effects of garlic supplements and antioxidant vitamins in lowering marginally high blood pressure in humans: pilot study. Nutrition Research. 2007;27: 119-123.

Block G. Vitamin C treatment reduces elevated C-reactive protein. Free Radical Biology & Medicine. 2009;46:70-77.

Ginter E. Chronic vitamin C deficiency increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Bratisl Lek Listy. 2007;108:417-421