Vitamin C: For More Than Just Colds

Health Professional

The cold and flu season has arrived. Have you increased your vitamin C intake? Many people supplement vitamin C to fight off winter colds; however, there is actually a heart health benefit too.

Benefits of Vitamin C

The benefits of vitamin C are numerous from promotion of wound healing to decreased gum disease to reduced bruising. Here are a few of the benefits directly related to heart disease:

  • Slows atherosclerosis.
  • Reduces repeat angioplasties.
  • Improves endothelial function.
  • Decreases atrial fibrillation post-bypass surgery.
  • Improves heart attack recovery.
  • Promotes blood pressure control.
  • Regulates c-reactive protein levels.
  • Removes lead from circulation.
  • Supports the conversion of excess cholesterol into bile acids to aid fat digestion.
  • Promotes the neutralization of lipoprotein(a) and arterial wall damage due to elevated homocysteine.

Causes of Vitamin C Deficiency

Risk of vitamin C deficiency increases with age. Vitamin C deficiency can also be induced by multiple factors, such as birth control pills, antibiotics, cortisone, painkillers, cigarettes, stress, diabetes, high blood pressure, and fever.

Symptoms of Vitamin C Deficiency

Here are a few symptoms associated with vitamin C deficiency - bleeding gums, slow wound healing, heart disease, fatigue, scurvy, weight loss, high rate of infections, joint pain, and easy bruising.

Sources of Vitamin C

Fruits and vegetables are the best source of vitamin C. Not only because they contain vitamin C, but they also provide bioflavonoids to assist the function of the vitamin.

Some Vitamin C Sources - peppers, kale, parsley, greens, broccoli, watercress, cauliflower, cabbage, strawberries, oranges, grapefruit, mangos, okra, green peas, radishes, squash, berries

Supplementation of Vitamin C

Current vitamin C recommendations are between 1000 to 5000 milligrams per day. Since vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin and is quickly eliminated from the body it is best to divide your supplement into two or three doses throughout the day. However, if you are likely to forget it's better to take the supplement all at once.

Doses greater than 1000 mg/day are sometimes recommended based on lipoprotein(a) and c-reactive protein levels. If you supplement more than 5000 mg per day you increase your risk of experiencing diarrhea. Discuss all supplements with your physician.

Be sure to sign-up for The Heart of Health for more tips to be heart healthy from dietitian Lisa Nelson. You will also receive the free report How to Make Heart Healthy Changes into Lifelong Habits when you sign up.