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Vitamin C Pills May Thicken Arteries


Vitamin C Pills May Thicken Arteries

SAN DIEGO--A study released March 2 questioned the effects of vitamin C pills on arteries. Participants in the study, who took 500 milligrams of vitamin C daily for at least a year, had a two and a half times greater rate of arterial thickening than those who avoided supplements. Clogged arteries--atherosclerosis--are the major underlying cause of heart attacks and strokes.

Researchers at the University of Southern California studied 573 middle-aged men and women, 30 percent of whom took vitamins. The study found that vitamin C in pill form, not in a multivitamin or in food, caused an accelerated thickening of the walls in the arteries found in the neck. The more that was taken, the faster the buildup.

"When you extract one component of food and give it at very high levels, you just don't know what you are doing to the system," said Dr. James Dwyer, the epidemiologist who directed the study. "It may be adverse."

"This is a preliminary epidemiological study and it is important to put the reported findings in the context of all available information," said Dr. Jeffrey Blumberg, chief of the Antioxidants Research Laboratory at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). "This is the first report of any negative effect of vitamin C on the arteries."

This study has not been published or peer reviewed.

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