People who consume lower-than-average levels of vitamin C have a higher risk than others of developing stroke, according to European researchers. Researchers from the University of Kuopio in Finland found that middle-aged men who had relatively low levels of vitamin C in their blood had a twofold higher risk of stroke than men with the highest blood levels of the vitamin. Furthermore, the risks associated with low blood levels of vitamin C were higher in men who were overweight or had high blood pressure.
During the study period, men who had the lowest levels of vitamin C in their blood--less than half of what was measured in men with the highest amount--were 2.4 times more likely than those with the most vitamin C to experience stroke. In addition, men who took in the smallest amounts of vitamin C from their diet and also had hypertension or were overweight were almost three times as likely to experience stroke as those who had a high vitamin C intake and did not suffer from either condition.
Men with the lowest amount of vitamin C in their blood consumed only the daily equivalent of around one-half a glass of orange juice in their diets, whereas those with the highest blood levels took in the equivalent of about two full glasses per day.
There are many methods by which vitamin C might reduce the risk of stroke. The vitamin acts as an antioxidant, which neutralizes the free radicals generated in the body during metabolism. Free radicals can be highly damaging to other body cells, and have been implicated in the aging process and atherosclerosis. Antioxidants like vitamin C protect the body from free radical damage by helping to prevent free radicals from forming, and by disarming already-generated free radicals.
Furthermore, the vitamin can also help prevent heart disease by strengthening the artery walls, by taking part in the synthesis of collagen, and also by preventing the undesired adhesion of white blood cells at the site of the damaged arteries. People with more vitamin C in their blood likely ate a diet that was rich in fruits and vegetables, and therefore might be more health-conscious overall than their peers with lower vitamin intake.
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