There only seem to be so many cardinal rules of health that we can follow and be assured they won’t change overnight. Eating well is always a sure thing as long as we’re getting a decent amount of exercise. We can also expect that taking care to ensure we’re not exposed to too much illness will also help us. Some people would add Vitamin C being perfect for most aspects of health to that list too. This has lead to some exaggerated claims over the years as people believe they’ve found the true cure for all illness. Linus Pauling, a deceased Nobel prize winner, did a lot to popularize this idea through his own obsession with the vitamin. Unfortunately, all of his works was done outside of his own field of research and as a result slightly dubious. We can definitely say today that mega-dosing on Vitamin C won’t get you anywhere, but is there some connection between Vitamin C and heart health? The answer is a bit more complicated than a simple yes or no.
A Murky Area
Before we can take an honest look at the evidence, we need to be upfront about the fact that any connection between vitamin C and cardiovascular health is a contentious topic. There have been countless studies trying to pin down the answer to this exact question in…mixed results. People who worked with Pauling during his lifetime tended to produce studies that favored his ideas on the grounds that he was a Nobel Prize winner. Few papers have been quite so free of reservations since then, but there have still been papers attesting to at least a moderate beneficial effect for vitamin C on heart health. Unfortunately, there have been just as many studies that indicated little to no effect. There have even been a few studies that indicated a slightly increased risk in some specific cases. That makes this discussion just that much harder since there is no firm answer either way. Yes, Pauling’s work in this area is more or less discredited, but those that can after him and found positive effects weren’t trying to make him happy. Where do we draw the line?
What We Do Know
Despite all the conflicting information, we can say that many scientists still consider investigating the link between vitamin C and heart health something worthwhile. There does appear to be at least a slight benefit involved in ensuring that you have enough vitamin C in your diet. This also goes beyond simply not having a deficiency in vitamin C. That’s necessary for your entire health. Vitamin C appears to play some role in how the body handles the factors that contribute to heart disease. The core problem is that science doesn’t know how yet. What it does knows is the effect, however slight, is there and that mega-dosing doesn’t improve the effect. Some scientists noted that the risks associated with vitamin C and heart health tended to only appear when people were trying to mega-dose their way into better health. So the key here is making sure you’re eating a diet with a healthy amount of vitamin C if you want to get the slight benefit that no one quite understands yet.
What You Can Do
This sort of information isn’t something that lends itself to immediate application. It does reinforce the need to live a healthy lifestyle to ensure one’s quality and quantity of life though. Your body needs a balanced amount of nutrients to help take care of itself and overloading it in any particular direction or another is likely to do your body more harm than good. While it means there are no shortcuts to good health, you can at least be sure that the healthy diet you’re already eating it affecting your body in more ways than one. Even highly targeted ingredients loaded with nutrients you’re intending for a specific purpose do more than you’d expect for your body simply because foods are as much the individual nutrients as they are the complex interplay between all those nutrients. These in turn work towards helping maintain your health. All of this said, we cannot honestly say there is a pronounced connection between vitamin C and heart disease, but there is a small one that indicates the nutrient helps the body prevent it in some fashion.
Miracle cues have no place in science. No one thing is actually good for everything even if it has broad benefits. Scientists are going to continue to study the small link between vitamin C and heart disease in hopes of locating the key to how it works. This will in turn open up further avenues of research that will build on our already existing knowledge while gradually moving us towards better treat of heart disease. While not a ringing endorsement, don’t forget that vitamin C is part of a healthy diet and always necessary to help minimize the chances of various long term ailments.