Vitamin C and Blood Pressure

Most people know there are benefits to taking vitamin C.  If surveyed, I would bet some of the common benefits  mentioned by the average person on the street would be: for colds and flu, to reduce inflammation and even to repair injured tissues.  I think most would be surprised that the benefits also appear to include the lowering of blood pressure.Clinical nutritionist and chiropractor Douglas Anderson DC, DACBSP, CCN , in his article on clinical  nutrition from Dynamic Chiropractic, analyzed a paper from Johns-Hopkins University. The paper is called, “Effects of vitamin C supplementation on blood pressure: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.”  This means that Dr Anderson summarized a paper written that reviewed all the papers available on vitamin C and blood pressure.  His was a sort of review of a review on vitamin C.

When studying any item or procedure we have to look at all the information and see if there is a trend. Sometimes a new paper will be published that says the opposite thing that twenty previous papers said. Obviously we have to look at the new information, but there has to be something incredibly special about the new paper to change our minds about the previous twenty papers.  Often the media will talk about a “new finding” and give the public the wrong perception of something because they don’t know that there are the twenty other studies contradicting the “new finding.”  This why I like the meta-analyses, or review of all the studies, as was done by Johns-Hopkins University.

Here are the findings:

  1. Systolic BP (the top number): In 22 out of the 29 studies reviewed, vitamin C supplementation lowered systolic BP to varying degrees. Three of the 29 studies saw no benefit and four showed an elevation.
  2. Diastolic BP (the bottom number): In 18 out of 29 studies, vitamin C supplementation lowered diastolic BP. Five showed no change and six showed an elevation in diastolic BP.

What this means is that there is good evidence to try a course of vitamin C supplementation for your high blood pressure.  Of course we must be mindful that for some there was little benefit and, for a small number of those studied, even worsening. This is why I strongly recommend to patient’s that we follow their BP if they choose to take supplements of any type, vitamin C included, to lower their blood pressure.

The studies used doses of between 60 mg and 4,000 mg, which is quite a variance.  There was no trend in dosing that showed, for instance, that more was better or worse necessarily.  For this reason,  we are recommending 500 mg to 1000 mg for adults as their maintenance levels.  In fact, he often recommends higher doses for certain conditions and individuals based on their findings. These doses would be in addition to a diet high in fruits and vegetables and not in place of it.

Doesn’t it just make sense to at least try the drug-free approach with an experienced specialist in natural remedies as your first option? – Jay P Bertsch DC

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