Vitamin C lowers blood pressure

The Canada Food Guide suggests that adults eat between five and 10 servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Packed with antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, and beta-carotene and lycopene, fruits and veggies promote good health and protect us from disease. But according to a new study, it may be the vitamin C that’s most responsible for the health benefits of fruits and vegetables.

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University reviewed data on 116 men (who did not use vitamin supplements) to see if any single nutrient was better utilized by the body. After analysis, researchers determined that there was a stronger association between vitamin C and blood plasma nutrients than for vitamin E, beta-carotene or lycopene. They suggest, then, that vitamin C may be the “star nutrient” responsible for all those studies that link fruit and veggie consumption to health benefits.

In a second recent study, vitamin C was shown to help lower blood pressure. At the National Cancer Institute, researchers assessed 68 men who were provided with all food and beverages, and vitamin C supplements. They clearly established a connection between lower blood pressure and intake of vitamin C.

Researchers were so pleased with their results that they’ve called for further studies.

Adults can consume up to 2,000 mg of vitamin C each day. Foods rich in vitamin C include strawberries (89 mg/cup), red peppers (95 mg/half-cup), kiwi (68 mg/kiwi) and broccoli (141 mg/spear). If you’re not eating at least two vitamin C-rich foods every day, add a vitamin C supplement to your diet.

Sources: Am J Epid 2001;154(12);1113-1118; Hypertension 2001 Feb;37(2):268-9; Leslie Beck’s Nutrition Encyclopedia by Leslie Beck, Prentice Hall:2001