Vitamin C is known for fighting free radical invaders as an antioxidant and strengthening your immune system. When you feel a cold or the flu coming on, you probably take vitamin C.
But there's one benefit of vitamin C consumption you may not have heard of: blood pressure support.
Vitamin C Basics
Vitamin C is a water-soluble essential nutrient you need to consume daily to maintain health. Vitamin C is naturally present in citrus fruits, like oranges or grapefruit, as well as certain vegetables like bell peppers and spinach. Some of the actions of vitamin C include strengthening the immune system, assisting in wound healing, supporting tissue health and fighting the visible signs of aging like wrinkles and brown spots.
If you're not getting enough vitamin C into your daily diet, you're at risk for developing scurvy. The symptoms of scurvy include brittle hair and dry skin.
Now, onto it's effects on blood pressure.
Vitamin C and Blood Pressure
Your blood pressure is listed as a ratio, with your systolic blood pressure on top and your diastolic on the bottom. Your systolic number is the pressure within the arteries when the heart muscle contracts and your diastolic number is the pressure within the arteries in between beats. The ideal ratio is 120/80 or below, according to the American Heart Association. Medications are often prescribed to lower your systolic blood pressure, and this is where vitamin C comes in. In published studies, vitamin C has been shown to enhance the effects of these prescription medications.
But what about just taking vitamin C?
According to a 2012 review of clinical trials conducted at Johns Hopkins, taking a high-dose vitamin C supplement may be beneficial on its own with lowering blood pressure. The change was noticed in short-term trials on both the systolic and diastolic measurements, but more research is needed to confirm. What we do know is vitamin C also helps prevent hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), which can negatively impact blood pressure as well.
How Much You Need
Since vitamin C is found naturally in many types of fruits and vegetables, you can start by adding those to your daily diet. Make smoothies or colorful salads (you can even use orange juice to make salad dressing). As for how much you normally need on a daily basis, here are the recommended daily amounts (RDAs), according to the Mayo Clinic:
Infants: 30 to 35 mg
Children ages one to three: 15 mg
Children ages four to eight): 25 mg
Children ages nine to 13: 45 mg
Adolescent boys: 75 mg
Adolescent girls: 65 mg
Adult men: 90 mg
Adult women: 75 mg
Vitamin C supplements are available in several different forms and strengths, including liquids, chewables an capsules. If you're currently being treated for hypertension or another medical condition, it's important to speak with your doctor before adding a vitamin C supplement to your routine. They can help you determine the correct dosage for your needs. Women who are pregnant or nursing should also consult their doctor.
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