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Vitamin C and Blood Pressure Management

A meta-analysis of twenty-nine randomized controlled clinical trials shows a significant decrease in blood pressure with supplemental vitamin C

High blood pressure is a leading cause of cardiovascular disease in the US that affects approximately 1/3 of all adult Americans according to the American Heart Association.  In observational studies, increased vitamin C intake, vitamin C supplementation, and higher blood concentrations of vitamin C are associated with lower blood pressure (BP).  Reductions as little as 0.8 to 2 mmHg in systolic blood pressure have shown clinically significant results in reducing the risk of heart disease, heart failure, and stroke.  However, evidence for blood pressure–lowering effects of vitamin C in clinical trials is inconsistent.  A meta-analysis of 29 clinical trials was conducted to exam the effects of vitamin C supplementation on BP.

Twenty-nine clinical trials met eligibility criteria for the analysis.  The median oral dose of vitamin C was 500 mg/day, the median duration of the trials was 8 weeks, and trial size ranged from 10 to 120 participants.  Statistical analysis of the data showed a decrease in systolic and diastolic blood pressure in both normotensive and hypertensive individuals. The changes in normotensive individuals averaged -3.84 mm Hg and -1.48 mm Hg for systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure respectively. The change observed in hypertensive individuals was even greater, with corresponding reductions in systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure of -4.85 mm Hg and -1.67 mm Hg.

In conclusion, this study showed that vitamin C supplementation reduced SBP and DBP in short-term trials.  However the authors note that before vitamin C can be recommended as a form of treatment for the prevention of hypertension or as adjuvant antihypertensive therapy, further studies must be performed that include larger sample sizes, with longer duration, and with attention to quality of BP assessment.
Source: Juraschek SP, et al. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012 May; 95(5):1079-88. 8

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