How important is Vitamin C? Interestingly even after I have gone through medical school and learnt about myocardial infarction, it has never been mentioned that Vitamin C deficiency could be a risk factor. It is always the more common stuff like smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol etc (everything that is bad for your health). What is even more interesting is this study was done in 1997 (way before I did med school) and published in British Medical Journal (BMJ) which is in fact one of the top medical journals in the world.
In 1997, a group of researchers from Finland evaluated 1605 healthy men of randomly selected age of 42, 48, 54 and 60 with no evidence of pre-existing heart disease and they found that men deficient in Vitamin C measured by low plasma ascorbate concentration have a 350% increased incidence of sudden heart attacks compared to those who are not deficient (1).
In fact, they also found that Vitamin C deficiency was associated to raised blood pressure and this is in line with another clinical trial that investigated the effect of antioxidant supplementation on blood pressure in 40 middle aged men where the mean systolic blood pressure decreased by 12.5mm Hg in the supplemented group and by 5.2mm Hg in the placebo group (2).
So what is your Vitamin C level?
1: Nyyssönen K, Parviainen MT, Salonen R, Tuomilehto J, Salonen JT. Vitamin C deficiency and risk of myocardial infarction: prospective population study of men from eastern Finland. BMJ. 1997 Mar 1;314(7081):634-8. PubMed PMID: 9066474; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2126082.
2. Salonen R, Korpela H, Nyyssönen K, Porkkala E, Salonen JT. Reduction of blood pressure by antioxidant supplementation: a randomised double-blind clinical trial. Life Chemistry Reports1994; 12:65–8.
Dr Nicole Ng (MBBS) is a medical doctor with a passion in women's health and medical research