Antioxidants for Arteries: Vitamins C and E slow heart disease progression

Three years ago, a team of Finnish researchers reported that combined supplements of natural vitamin E and time-release vitamin C, taken over a three-year period, slowed the progression of atherosclerosis in men. Using ultrasound to document blood-vessel changes, the researchers showed that the antioxidant vitamins reduced the thickening of the interior of the carotid artery, which could otherwise reduce and obstruct blood flow.

In a recent follow-up study, the researchers assessed the effects of daily supplements containing natural vitamin E and time-release vitamin C over a six-year period. The subjects were generally healthy middle-aged and elderly men and women who had elevated blood levels of cholesterol. They found the combined supplements reduced the thickening of the carotid artery by 25% compared to the placebo group. However, this effect was far greater among men than women. In men, carotid artery thickness was reduced by 37%, compared with placebo.

The researchers say the study showed that a very modest daily supplement containing natural vitamin E and time-release vitamin C slowed the progression of atherosclerosis, a leading factor in heart disease. They wrote, “These effects are comparable with those of the most effective cholesterol-lowering medications but with fewer adverse effects and lower cost.”

Veris Research, May 30, 2003