Vitamin C may lower blood pressure

Researchers at Johns Hopkins have conducted a preliminary study that shows high doses of Vitamin C can lower blood pressure. According to research, roughly 30 percent of adults in the United States have high blood pressure, or hypertension, an important risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

The new findings

“Our research suggests a modest blood pressure lowering effect with vitamin C supplementation, but before we can recommend supplements as a treatment for high blood pressure, we really need more research to understand the implications of taking them,” says Edgar R. Miller, an associate professor in the division of general internal medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and leader of the study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

What they found is that taking an average of 500 milligrams of vitamin C daily — about five times the recommended daily requirement — reduced blood pressure by 3.84 millimeters of mercury in the short term. That equates to about six cups of orange juice.

A word of caution

While researchers believe this discovery is intriguing, they caution people against loading up on vitamin pills.

People often view supplements as a “natural alternative” and preferable to drugs for high blood pressure or other ailments, Miller adds, but he still cautions people against taking high doses of vitamin C.

“People love to take vitamins regardless of the evidence or lack of it,” Miller says. “We’re trying to raise the bar and provide evidence-based guidance about whether supplements help or actually do harm.” With respect to vitamin C, he says, the jury is still out.

More about Vitamin C

The body is not able to make vitamin C on its own, and it does not store vitamin C. According to Medline Plus, Vitamin C is needed for the growth and repair of tissues in all parts of the body. It is also an antioxidant, which can help protect the body.