The study involved almost 250 women. They entered the trial when they were 8 to 11 years old, and over a 10-year period, their plasma levels of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and blood pressure were monitored. Both their systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings, were found to be inversely associated with ascorbic acid levels.
Previous research had already linked high plasma levels of vitamin C with lower blood pressure among middle-age and older adults.
Uncontrolled high blood pressure (hypertension) is a serious health concern that can cause heart disease and increase your risk of having a stroke. It is especially dangerous because hypertension often has no warning signs or symptoms. Amazingly, the risk of becoming hypertensive is greater than 90 percent for individuals in developed countries, according to research published in the Lancet two years ago.
But the really great news is that over 85 percent of those who have hypertension can normalize their blood pressure through lifestyle modifications, whereas statistics show over half of people taking multiple medications for high blood pressure are still not able to manage their condition.
So if you have hypertension, or hope to avoid it, know that there are simple steps you can take to balance your blood pressure without harmful and/or ineffective medications!
Vitamin C and Your Blood Pressure
Several studies have examined the impact of vitamin C on blood pressure. Vitamin C is an antioxidant, which helps neutralize cell-damaging free radicals. Research has shown that antioxidants can help to reduce high blood pressure, possibly by protecting your body's supply of nitric oxide, a molecule that relaxes blood vessels.
The current study, published in the Nutrition Journal, found that both the systolic and diastolic (top and bottom) readings were inversely associated with ascorbic acid levels.
Specifically, women with the highest levels of ascorbic acid had a decline of about 4.6 mm Hg in systolic and just over 6 mm Hg in diastolic blood pressure, compared with women with the lowest ascorbic acid levels.
Previous research has also confirmed that adding vitamin C to your diet can help to reverse the degenerative process caused by free radicals, resulting in lower blood pressure levels.
Interestingly, vitamin C can also give extra oomph to other antioxidants, such as catechins, which are naturally occurring antioxidants found in green tea.
Green tea has been linked to heart- and cardiovascular health as it improves both blood flow and the ability of your arteries to relax. One 2007 study discovered that complementing green tea with either citrus juices or vitamin C increases the amount of catechins available for your body to absorb.
The possibility of a natural agent being able to lower blood pressure and help prevent heart disease is certainly worth noting, especially when you consider the damage that many, if not most, drugs can do.
For example, beta-blockers -- a class of drugs frequently prescribed to manage high blood pressure and as cardioprotection after a heart attack -- have been found to cause type 2 diabetes by decreasing your insulin sensitivity. This, as you will see in the next section, is actually promoting the very problem you’re trying to solve.
Your best bet is to focus on getting a moderate amount of fruits and plenty of vegetables in your diet; the types and amounts being adjusted based on your nutritional type.
But if you decide to supplement with vitamin C, it is important to remember that it is a water-soluble vitamin and ideally should be taken at least three times a day. It is also best taken with bioflavanoids, which further enhance its benefits.
Please note that if you are highly sensitive to vitamin C, you may experience diarrhea. This is an indication that you need to lower your dosage.
That said, something else may have a far greater impact on your blood pressure than vitamin C and antioxidants, although they may help alleviate high blood pressure to a certain degree. It should be perfectly clear to everyone that these nutrients are not the cure for high blood pressure, but they can provide some protection while you address the main causes of your problem.
Insulin – A MAJOR Player in Regulating Blood Pressure
Groundbreaking research published in 1998 in the journal Diabetes reported that nearly two-thirds of the test subjects who were insulin resistant also had high blood pressure. This crucial connection between insulin resistance and hypertension is yet another example of how wide-ranging the debilitating effects of high insulin, leptin and blood glucose levels can have on your body.
Additionally, previous research has revealed that if your blood pressure doesn’t drop notably overnight, you run an increased risk of having cardiovascular problems. Here, the connection is also elevated blood sugar (glucose) levels as elevated blood sugars can result in diabetes and other diseases which increase cardiovascular problems.
Hence, if you have hypertension, chances are good that you also have poorly controlled blood sugar levels. The two problems often go hand in hand.
And if your hypertension is the direct result of an out-of-control blood sugar level, then normalizing your blood sugar levels will also bring your blood pressure readings into the healthy range.
How to Reduce Your Blood Pressure Without Dangerous Drugs
Typically, optimizing your diet -- which will normalize your insulin levels -- is the most effective route to return your blood pressure to normal levels.
Other recommendations that can help bring your blood pressure under control include:
- Eliminate or limit grains and sugars from your diet – This alone will lower insulin levels and normalize blood pressure in about 75 percent of people
- Eliminate or limit caffeine
- Consume healthy omega-3 fats, such as krill- or fish oil
- Get a daily dose of sunshine to optimize your vitamin D levels -- Sun exposure causes your body to produce vitamin D. Lack of sunlight reduces your vitamin D stores and increases parathyroid hormone production, which increases blood pressure. Vitamin D deficiency has also been linked to insulin resistance, which can raise your blood pressure
- Get a good night’s sleep
- Get plenty of exercise
In addition to vitamin C, other natural supplements that can help improve your blood pressure include:
- Grape seed extract – another powerful antioxidant that has been shown to reduce blood pressure by an average of 8-12 millimeters. The antioxidant capacity of grape seed extract comes from proanthocyanidins. Scientific studies have shown that the antioxidant power of proanthocyanidins is 20 times stronger than vitamin C and 50 times stronger than vitamin E.
Olive leaf extract – One recent study found that supplement users taking 1,000 mg of olive leaf extract per day showed a substantial dip in their blood pressure, in addition to lowered levels of LDL cholesterol. The active agent responsible for the hypotensive action of the olive leaf is oleuropein, which acts as an antioxidant and helps relax and dilate your blood vessels