Vitamin C The Heart Of The Matter

Mammals producing their own vitamin C

don’t have heart disease – even though

many have very high levels of cholesterol.

Arterial blockage graphic
  • Vitamin C actually lowers the liver’s production of cholesterol.

  • It also optimizes cholesterol transport in the bloodstream and its uptake by the cells.

  • In addition, vitamin C inhibits blood cells from clumping together and forming clots, which can initiate heart attacks.

  • And, it recycles two other powerful antioxidants (vitamin E and glutathione) by “refreshing” them.

The Heart Of The Matter

Heart disease continues to be the #1 Killer of Americans, taking more than one in four people annually, over 600,000 individuals. Every year nearly 750,000 of us suffer heart attacks. In his best-selling Prescription for Natural Cures, James F. Balch, MD, writes that poor diet (particularly lack of fresh produce and low fiber intake), plus unhealthy lifestyle habits (e.g., smoking and lack of exercise) are the root cause of most heart disease. Heart disease, also called cardiovascular diease CVD), includes atherosclerosis (blocked arteries), angina (chest pain), heart attack, high blood pressure, and stroke.

Besides functioning to provide collagen, vitamin C is also a potent antioxidant. Oxidative damage is a major contributor to the development of CVD.FN  Fruits and veggies are our greatest source of vitamin C. Population studies show that people eating the largest quantities of fruits and veggies have a reduced risk of CVD. Researchers think the antioxidant property of the vitamin may be providing protection.

Although results from studies looking at associations between vitamin C and CVD risk are conflicting, several large studies show that sections of the study populations getting the most vitamin C also had a reduced risk of CVD. One of these positive studies is the Nurses’ Health Study, a 16-year study, involving over 85,000 female nurses. Another involved 20,600+ British adults. In the latter, those getting the most vitamin C showed a 42% reduced risk of stroke.

Enter Matthias Rath, MD. In 1987, Rath discovered the connection between vitamin C deficiency and a risk factor for heart disease – lipoprotein(a). In the early 1990s, while working with 2-time Nobel Laureate Linus Pauling, at the Linus Pauling Institute, Rath authored and published Eradicating Heart Disease (Health Now, San Francisco). In it, he wrote about his work, explaining that heart attacks and strokes are not diseases, but the result of vitamin deficiency, particularly a lack of sufficient vitamin C. Since those early days, Dr. Rath has helped a huge number of patients by putting them on his drug-free supplement program.

In his book, Rath points out that mammals producing their own vitamin C don’t have heart disease – even though many have very high levels of cholesterol. For example, bears measure in at 400 mg/dl while the generally considered safe level for humans is under 200. The heart arteries of C-producing animals are kept in better condition than ours by the constant internal bath of ascorbic acid, which results in higher quality collagen.

Reversing Arterial Disease

Our arteries open and close 60, 70, 80 times a minute as the heart pumps. Rath has compared this with stepping on a garden hose  ongoingly with each pump. He has remarked that a new and flexible garden hose  functions as designed. On the other hand, a brittle hose begins to crack, and eventually fails. He likens this to our heart’s arteries, which become weakened by vitamin deficiency, and eventually fail.

In addition, once the arteries are damaged, the body tries to repair them by putting down plaque. Plaque is made from oxidized cholesterol. As this cycle goes forward, ever more plaque adheres to the arteries, narrowing them (atheroclerosis). Eventually, this makes it difficult for the heart to receive sufficient oxygen and other nutrients.

To summarize, heart attacks are a combination of mechanical stress from the pumping heart, the accumulation of plaque narrowing the arteries, and weakened artery walls. Sufficient vitamin C maintains the integrity of the arteries. By adding vitamin C (and some other nutrients), Dr. Rath’s patients have reversed heart disease.

Other benefits of vitamin C are from its antioxidant property. This supports the heart by improving cholesterol profiles. Vitamin C actually lowers the liver’s production of cholesterol. It also optimizes cholesterol transport in the bloodstream and its uptake by the cells. In addition, vitamin C inhibits blood cells from clumping together and forming clots, which can initiate heart attacks. And, it recycles two other powerful antioxidants (vitamin E and glutathione) by “refreshing” them.

Vitamin C Recommendations

Rath recommends 1 gram (1000 mg) per day of vitamin C, in several doses of 250-500 mg each). Although as little as 300 mg per day have been shown to cut heart disease risk in half, a gram remains a conservative amount.7 For years, I have taken between 1 and 3 grams per day of a highly absorbable form. Linus Pauling himself was famous for huge amounts (up to 12 grams daily) and lived well into his 90s.

Rath also recommends several other supplements, particularly the amino acids L-lysine and L-proline. These amino acids are indispensable in the formation of collagen. Lysine is an essential amino acid, meaning it must be consumed through food sources. Proline can be produced by the body, but often in insufficient quantities for therapeutic needs. Five hundred milligrams of each is recommended. (Take them on an empty stomach with juice or water. Protein foods interfere with their absorption.)

Both acetyl-L-carnitine (ALC, 250 mg 2x/d) and coenzyme Q10 (25-150 mg daily) improve the energy supply in the heart muscle cells, supporting the heart’s pumping action. Other important supplements are a multiple vitamin-mineral formula (containing chromium and selenium, 200 mcg of each); additional vitamin E (up to 600 IU); additional magnesium (up to 1200 mg); and omega-3 oils from fish (couple of grams).

 

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