People with a severe form of arterial disease appear to have low
levels of vitamin C in their blood regardless of their diet or
smoking habits, study findings suggest.
Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a form of atherosclerosis, a
condition in which fatty build-up accumulates inside the arteries
and obstructs blood flow. In PAD, blood flow in the legs and feet
is impaired, which can cause lameness and pain. PAD is also
associated with an increased risk of death and disability caused
by heart attack and stroke.
PAD may cause inflammation and the release of free
radicals–compounds that can damage tissue and may contribute to
aging and chronic conditions such as cancer and heart disease.
While antioxidants such as vitamin C can “neutralize” these
compounds and reduce damage, free radicals can also deplete
antioxidants from the body when overall levels are low.
In their study, the investigators found that patients with PAD
had vitamin C blood levels nearly twice as low as those in people
without PAD. They also had higher levels of C-reactive protein, a
marker of inflammation in blood vessels that may be associated
with increased risk of heart disease.
“Vitamin C concentrations are low in PAD and are associated with
inflammation,” the authors conclude. “Low-grade inflammation in
atherosclerosis may be associated with oxidative stress and the
resultant decrease in antioxidants such as vitamin C.”
Antioxidants such as vitamin C play an important role in the
prevention or mitigation of many chronic disorders. If you have
peripheral artery disease, supplemental vitamin C is recommended.
You may also need additional nutrients, and if you are quite
unwell, you may need intravenous nutrient therapy (see below).
Source: Circulation 2001;103.