Vitamin C The Heart Of The Matter

Mammals producing their own vitamin C

don’t have heart disease – even though

many have very high levels of cholesterol.

Arterial blockage graphic
  • Vitamin C actually lowers the liver’s production of cholesterol.

  • It also optimizes cholesterol transport in the bloodstream and its uptake by the cells.

  • In addition, vitamin C inhibits blood cells from clumping together and forming clots, which can initiate heart attacks.

  • And, it recycles two other powerful antioxidants (vitamin E and glutathione) by “refreshing” them.

The Heart Of The Matter

Heart disease continues to be the #1 Killer of Americans, taking more than one in four people annually, over 600,000 individuals. Every year nearly 750,000 of us suffer heart attacks. In his best-selling Prescription for Natural Cures, James F. Balch, MD, writes that poor diet (particularly lack of fresh produce and low fiber intake), plus unhealthy lifestyle habits (e.g., smoking and lack of exercise) are the root cause of most heart disease. Heart disease, also called cardiovascular diease CVD), includes atherosclerosis (blocked arteries), angina (chest pain), heart attack, high blood pressure, and stroke.

Besides functioning to provide collagen, vitamin C is also a potent antioxidant. Oxidative damage is a major contributor to the development of CVD.FN  Fruits and veggies are our greatest source of vitamin C. Population studies show that people eating the largest quantities of fruits and veggies have a reduced risk of CVD. Researchers think the antioxidant property of the vitamin may be providing protection.

Although results from studies looking at associations between vitamin C and CVD risk are conflicting, several large studies show that sections of the study populations getting the most vitamin C also had a reduced risk of CVD. One of these positive studies is the Nurses’ Health Study, a 16-year study, involving over 85,000 female nurses. Another involved 20,600+ British adults. In the latter, those getting the most vitamin C showed a 42% reduced risk of stroke.

Enter Matthias Rath, MD. In 1987, Rath discovered the connection between vitamin C deficiency and a risk factor for heart disease – lipoprotein(a). In the early 1990s, while working with 2-time Nobel Laureate Linus Pauling, at the Linus Pauling Institute, Rath authored and published Eradicating Heart Disease (Health Now, San Francisco). In it, he wrote about his work, explaining that heart attacks and strokes are not diseases, but the result of vitamin deficiency, particularly a lack of sufficient vitamin C. Since those early days, Dr. Rath has helped a huge number of patients by putting them on his drug-free supplement program.

In his book, Rath points out that mammals producing their own vitamin C don’t have heart disease – even though many have very high levels of cholesterol. For example, bears measure in at 400 mg/dl while the generally considered safe level for humans is under 200. The heart arteries of C-producing animals are kept in better condition than ours by the constant internal bath of ascorbic acid, which results in higher quality collagen.

Reversing Arterial Disease

Our arteries open and close 60, 70, 80 times a minute as the heart pumps. Rath has compared this with stepping on a garden hose  ongoingly with each pump. He has remarked that a new and flexible garden hose  functions as designed. On the other hand, a brittle hose begins to crack, and eventually fails. He likens this to our heart’s arteries, which become weakened by vitamin deficiency, and eventually fail.

In addition, once the arteries are damaged, the body tries to repair them by putting down plaque. Plaque is made from oxidized cholesterol. As this cycle goes forward, ever more plaque adheres to the arteries, narrowing them (atheroclerosis). Eventually, this makes it difficult for the heart to receive sufficient oxygen and other nutrients.

To summarize, heart attacks are a combination of mechanical stress from the pumping heart, the accumulation of plaque narrowing the arteries, and weakened artery walls. Sufficient vitamin C maintains the integrity of the arteries. By adding vitamin C (and some other nutrients), Dr. Rath’s patients have reversed heart disease.

Other benefits of vitamin C are from its antioxidant property. This supports the heart by improving cholesterol profiles. Vitamin C actually lowers the liver’s production of cholesterol. It also optimizes cholesterol transport in the bloodstream and its uptake by the cells. In addition, vitamin C inhibits blood cells from clumping together and forming clots, which can initiate heart attacks. And, it recycles two other powerful antioxidants (vitamin E and glutathione) by “refreshing” them.

Vitamin C Recommendations

Rath recommends 1 gram (1000 mg) per day of vitamin C, in several doses of 250-500 mg each). Although as little as 300 mg per day have been shown to cut heart disease risk in half, a gram remains a conservative amount.7 For years, I have taken between 1 and 3 grams per day of a highly absorbable form. Linus Pauling himself was famous for huge amounts (up to 12 grams daily) and lived well into his 90s.

Rath also recommends several other supplements, particularly the amino acids L-lysine and L-proline. These amino acids are indispensable in the formation of collagen. Lysine is an essential amino acid, meaning it must be consumed through food sources. Proline can be produced by the body, but often in insufficient quantities for therapeutic needs. Five hundred milligrams of each is recommended. (Take them on an empty stomach with juice or water. Protein foods interfere with their absorption.)

Both acetyl-L-carnitine (ALC, 250 mg 2x/d) and coenzyme Q10 (25-150 mg daily) improve the energy supply in the heart muscle cells, supporting the heart’s pumping action. Other important supplements are a multiple vitamin-mineral formula (containing chromium and selenium, 200 mcg of each); additional vitamin E (up to 600 IU); additional magnesium (up to 1200 mg); and omega-3 oils from fish (couple of grams).


Keeping It Together With Vitamin C

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Basket Of Riverside Grown Oranges

Heros Of Vitamin C

The twentieth century had its vitamin C heroes. Among them

  • Dr. Albert Szent-Gyorgyi (credited with discovering ascorbic acid crystals),

  • Irwin Stone (vitamin C as a missing link),

  • Linus Pauling (vitamin C and the common cold),

  • Frederick Klenner, MD (pioneer in megadoses of C), and

  • Robert Cathcart, MD (who developed the bowel-tolerance model of vitamin C dosage).

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Vitamin C Keeps Us Together

This is the literal Truth. The presence of vitamin C is imperative to the health of every tissue and organ in our body. This is because the primary biochemical function of vitamin C is the synthesis of collagen. (Yes, this is the same material that is injected into lips and facial creases to create plumping. It also appears as an ingredient in cosmetics). Collagen is the body’s most important structural substance. It is a proteinous glue that supports and holds the tissues and organs together.

Collagen comprises about one-third of the body’s total protein weight, and is its most extensive tissue system. Collagen provides bones with toughness and flexibility while preventing brittleness. It strengthens the arteries and veins, supports the muscles, and toughens the ligaments. It supplies scar tissue for healing wounds and keeps our skin tissues soft, firm, and youthful. Not surprisingly, collagen is intimately connected with the entire aging process. Quite simply, without vitamin C, the body simply disintegrates.

In fact, this disintegration has a name. It is called scurvy. All vitamins have deficiency diseases associated with them. Scurvy is the deficiency disease of  vitamin C, and it has caused the deaths of untold millions. It was 70 years before the British Navy mandated the stowing of citrus into ships’ stores. An estimated two million seamen died of scurvy. There’s more info in Scurvy: Disease of Discovery,  by Jonathan Lamb.

By the late 1700s, James Lind, an Englishman (and later a ship’s surgeon), had conducted the first known controlled clinical study. His results demonstrated that men sick with “the scurvy” would recover rapidly when given fresh citrus. This eventually lead to British sailors eating limes, resulting in the sobriquet “Limeys”. Today in Western countries, scurvy is rare.

The tradition of policy lagging behind best practices backed by science continues today.

Without sufficient vitamin C, the body is unable to produce collagen. Gums bleed, leading to loss of teeth; bones become brittle and fracture; weakened arteries rupture and hemorrhage; muscles are useless. Wounds and sores never heal. As we have noted, eventually, the afflicted person dies. In essence, they fall apart.

Makes you want to start paying attention to how much vitamin C is in your daily diet, doesn’t it?



Vitamin C Our Missing Link To Falling Apart

Oranges, plums Riverside Grown





Are We Falling Apart?

In science there is a measurement called the JND, Just Noticeable Difference. In 1972, Irwin Stone’s The Healing Factor: Vitamin C Against Disease was published.  

Among vitamin C proponents, subscurvy, the concept proposed by Stone in this book was a game-changer. Stone studied ascorbic acid for over 50 years. His research lead him to the conclusion that the entire human population suffers from a lack of vitamin C.


The other three are fruit bats, rhesus monkeys, and guinea pigs.FN We humans are missing only one step in a process that allows other mammals to manufacture vitamin C internally from glucose (blood sugar). Without this step, our bodies are unable to produce it.

Stone has written that suboptimal amounts of vitamin C throughout life result in poor quality collagen. In turn, this leads to the physical breakdown many experience in their later years. The possible consequences include arthritis and joint diseases, broken hips, strokes, the many cardiovascular diseases, and possibly cancer.


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Vitamin C, Can’t Live Without It

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Vitamin C, Why We Can’t Live Without It

During the Ice Ages, malnutrition and lack of vitamins was a constant threat. The ancient bones show vitamin intake was close to zero. A lack of vitamin C was the greatest problem. The inevitable result for many was scurvy, the vitamin C deficiency disease. Thus, for a number of generations, this disease was the largest single threat to the survival of the human race.– Matthias Rath, MD, Eradicating Heart Disease

Without vitamin C, it’s estimated that any human would die within a year. How is that possible? Vitamin C is a vitamin. The word vita is Latin for life. All vitamins are essential to life. In the classic desert island scenario, vitamin C is the one to take. The health benefits of vitamin C are many.

A remarkable number of physical functions are affected by vitamin C. Among these are immune function, stress response, antioxidant and anti-toxin functions, the nervous system, blood coagulation, and cardiovascular health. Vitamin C is necessary for the formation of bones, teeth, and cartilage. It is also important in the healing of wounds, bruises, fractures, and capillary damage. And, it is needed for healthy skin.

It has been said that vitamin C has 1,000 functions we already know and possibly another 20,000 that we haven’t discovered yet. The late Nobel Laureate and vitamin C proponent Linus Pauling, PhD, called the vitamin a “panacea” – a cure-all substance.


Antioxidants Of Interest For Infertility, Erectile Dysfunction

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If oxidative stress is an underlying factor causing infertility, which we think the evidence points to, we should be able to do something about it.

As many as 50 percent of conceptions fail and about 20 percent of clinical pregnancies end in miscarriage.


Infertility, Erectile Dysfunction and Antioxidant Connection


CORVALLIS, Ore. – A growing body of evidence suggests that antioxidants may have significant value in addressing infertility issues in both women and men. This includes erectile dysfunction, yeah!

Researchers say that large, specific clinical studies are merited to determine how much they could help.

A new analysis, published online in the journal Pharmacological Research, noted that previous studies on the potential for antioxidants to help address this serious and growing problem have been inconclusive, but that other data indicates nutritional therapies may have significant potential.

The researchers also observed that infertility problems are often an early indicator of other degenerative disease issues such as atherosclerosis, high blood pressure and congestive heart failure. The same approaches that may help treat infertility could also be of value to head off those problems, they said.

The findings were made by Tory Hagen, in the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, and Francesco Visioli, lead author of the study at the Madrid Institute for Advanced Studies in Spain.

“If oxidative stress is an underlying factor causing infertility, which we think the evidence points to, we should be able to do something about it,” said Hagen, the Jamieson Chair of Healthspan Research in the Linus Pauling Institute. “This might help prevent other critical health problems as well, at an early stage when nutritional therapies often work best.”

The results from early research have been equivocal, Hagen said, but that may be because they were too small or did not focus on antioxidants. Laboratory and in-vitro studies have been very promising, especially with some newer antioxidants such as lipoic acid that have received much less attention.

“The jury is still out on this,” Hagen said. “But the problem is huge, and the data from laboratory studies is very robust, it all fits. There is evidence this might work, and the potential benefits could be enormous.”

The researchers from Oregon and Spain point, in particular, to inadequate production of nitric oxide, an agent that relaxes and dilates blood vessels. This is often caused, in turn, by free radicals that destroy nitric oxide and reduce its function. Antioxidants can help control free radicals. Some existing medical treatments for erectile dysfunction work, in part, by increasing production of nitric oxide.

Aging, which is often associated with erectile dysfunction problems, is also a time when nitric oxide synthesis begins to falter. And infertility problems in general are increasing, scientists say, as more people delay having children until older ages.

“Infertility is multifactorial and we still don’t know the precise nature of this phenomenon,” Visioli said.

If new approaches were developed successfully, the researchers said, they might help treat erectile dysfunction in men, egg implantation and endometriosis in women, and reduce the often serious and sometimes fatal condition of pre-eclampsia in pregnancy. The quality and health of semen and eggs might be improved.

As many as 50 percent of conceptions fail and about 20 percent of clinical pregnancies end in miscarriage, the researchers noted in their report. Both male and female reproductive dysfunction is believed to contribute to this high level of reproductive failure, they said, but few real causes have been identified.

“Some people and physicians are already using antioxidants to help with fertility problems, but we don’t have the real scientific evidence yet to prove its efficacy,” Hagen said. “It’s time to change that.”

Some commonly used antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, could help, Hagen said. But others, such as lipoic acid, are a little more cutting-edge and set up a biological chain reaction that has a more sustained impact on vasomotor function and health.

Polyphenols, the phytochemicals that often give vegetables their intense color and are also found in chocolate and tea, are also of considerable interest. But many claims are being made and products marketed, the researchers said, before the appropriate science is completed – actions that have actually delayed doing the proper studies.

“There’s a large market of plant-based supplements that requires hard data,” Visioli said. “Most claims are not backed by scientific evidence and human trials. We still need to obtain proof of efficacy before people invest money and hope in preparations of doubtful efficacy.”

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