News for Diabetics: Vitamin C helps control blood pressure

Diabetics are at an elevated risk for many other diseases, including heart disease. Therefore, the maintenance of normal blood pressure is an important factor in avoiding poor cardiovascular health. According to a recent clinical trial, diabetics may lower their risk for heart disease simply by taking a daily dose of vitamin C.

Researchers from Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, Northern Ireland, enlisted 30 patients, 45 to 70 years of age, with type 2 diabetes. They were randomly assigned to receive either 500 mg of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) daily or a placebo. The patients were evaluated before treatment and again after 4 weeks of supplementation. The researchers were looking for changes in blood pressure and arterial stiffness in the diabetic patients.

They found that those patients supplementing with vitamin C showed significantly decreased blood pressure measurements, while those taking the placebo showed no change. The researchers conclude that “after 1 month, oral ascorbic acid lowered arterial blood pressure and improved arterial stiffness in patients with type 2 diabetes.” Antioxidants such as vitamin C have been shown to offer other benefits for diabetics, such as decreased risk of cataracts and nerve damage. The researchers also suggest that, because blood pressure control reduces the risk of heart disease in diabetics, vitamin C “supplementation may potentially be a useful and inexpensive adjunctive therapy.”

Hypertension 2002 Dec;40(6):804-9