Vitamins C and E Lower Blood Pressure
August 06, 2000
According to results of
a recent study, rats that consumed foods with free radicals -- compounds
that are linked to heart disease and other chronic illnesses --
had lower levels of nitric oxide and higher blood pressure.
However, adding vitamins C and E to the rats'
diet appeared to partially reverse this degenerative process, resulting
in lower blood pressure levels. Vitamins C and E are antioxidants,
compounds that neutralize cell-damaging free radicals. Recent studies
have shown that antioxidants may help to reduce high blood pressure
(hypertension), possibly by protecting the body's supply of nitric
oxide, a molecule that relaxes blood vessels.
Antioxidants are powerful regulators of blood
pressure and studies show that multiple types of antioxidants found
in a diet heavy in fruit and vegetables, could help mitigate high
" We thought that the presence of oxidative
stress, or higher levels of free radicals known to inactivate nitric
oxide, may increase blood pressure," said one researcher. "If
this was the case, lowering levels of free radicals by giving antioxidants
should improve nitric oxide availability and reduce blood pressure,"
To test this theory, the investigators artificially
lowered levels of a natural antioxidant chemical, glutathione, to
produce oxidative stress in rats. As a result, levels of nitric
oxide decreased and blood pressure went up.
But the addition of vitamins C and E to the
rats' diet alleviated the degenerative process and led to higher
levels of nitric oxide and a partial reduction in blood pressure.
"This shows us that although hypertension
is a highly complex disorder that can arise from a number of causes,
nitric oxide and oxidative stress play a major role in regulating
blood pressure," researchers said.