With or without exercise Vitamin C suppresses protein activity that narrows blood vessels and causes heart disease,
Vitamin C is perhaps the most prevalent and certainly the most available of all the vitamins mainly due the popularity it gained as a ‘health supplement’ in the late 60s and through the 1970s.
Its dominance of the vitamin market is also due to the development in China, during the 1960s, of a cheaper way to produce synthesised vitamin C in large quantities made from glucose.
The availability of product and the expansion of the vitamin market were more than coincidental in their timing and very soon a variety of vitamin C products were being introduced to the market as generally ‘good for you’.
Since then various studies have hinted at various beneficial effects of vitamin C on certain medical conditions but nothing definitive has been claimed or proven, until now.
Caitlin Dow PhD, a research fellow at the University of Colorado has authored a study which very clearly demonstrates a real, and potentially life-saving benefit from taking vitamin C supplements.
The secret of her success, as so often, is simplicity. She knew what she was looking for and how to look for it.
Dr Dow was specifically examining the suppressant effect of vitamin C on a protein already associated with obesity and cardiac dysfunction.
The briefest of detours into microbiology is necessary to explain the focus of her vision.
The blood vessels and lymphatic vessels of the body are lined with endothelium, cells which perform several complex functions vital to the smooth operation of the body.
They are present along every inch of the circulatory system from the chambers of the heart to the capillaries on the fingertips.
Endothelin-1 is a protein that causes the endothelium to constrict, limiting blood flow and raising the risk of stroke or cardiovascular failure.
In obese patients, patients already suffering from hypertension and smokers, endothelin-1 is measurably higher than normal.
Regular and vigorous exercise has proven very effective at reducing the levels of this potentially dangerous protein, but vitamin C was also found to be an inhibitor, actually preventing the protein from functioning.
The research team wanted to find out if vitamin C alone would have any effect.
Using 35 obese adults as test subjects they asked some to walk or exercise daily while others were given daily vitamin C supplements.
The findings showed that both groups displayed a notable reduction in the dangerous proteins and, astonishingly, that the supplement takers improved every bit as well as the exercisers.
The finding is clearly that anything over 500mg of supplementary vitamin C taken daily will help to reduce the risk of heart disease even if you are at risk and not exercising.
Of course this should not be seen as a licence for obesity, which brings with it many other health issues, but for those who find it hard to exercise, the elderly, those with respiratory disease or physical disabilities it is a vital step towards better health.
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