I’ve long been a believer in the heart-healthy benefits of vitamin C, which helps lower the type of chronic inflammation that leads to heart disease. It is also a powerful antioxidant that helps the heart function better.
But there is now evidence that vitamin C can help lower blood pressure.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md., analyzed data from 29 randomized trials in which participants had either taken vitamin C or a placebo.
They found that people without high blood pressure who took an average of 500 mg of vitamin C daily (more than five times the recommended daily requirement of 90 mg) reduced their blood pressure by a measure of 3.84 mm of mercury over the short term.
The results were even better for people with high blood pressure: Their readings dropped an average of nearly 5 mm of mercury.
It’s likely that vitamin C caused the drop in blood pressure because it acts as a diuretic, causing the kidneys to remove more sodium and water from the body, which helps to relax blood vessel walls, thereby lowering blood pressure.
Although the drop was not as great as that which results from taking blood pressure medication, the researchers acknowledged that if people lowered their blood pressure by 3 mm of mercury, there would be far fewer strokes.
They stopped short of recommending that people take vitamin C, but I don’t. I am a firm believer in the cardiovascular benefits of this supplement. I recommend 1,000 to 2,000 mg of vitamin C daily for my patients.
For those looking to increase their intake of vitamin C naturally, here are some foods you may not realize contain vitamin C.