Drink your juice!

Linus Pauling lived to a ripe old age, and his mega-doses of Vitamin C may have helped even more than he could have imagined. A new study performed at Boston University indicates that for patients with coronary atherosclerosis (heart disease), low blood levels of vitamin C are significantly associated with recurring chest pain or a heart attack.

In attempting to explain the results of the study, researchers speculate that vitamin C may help to keep the fatty deposits inside the arteries from rupturing and causing unstable angina or a heart attack.

"The study is another piece of the puzzle that helps explain what’s wrong with blood vessels that predisposes them to go on and cause a problem like a heart attack," said Dr. Joseph A. Vita. "It seems that lower levels of vitamin C may be involved in the abnormalities in the arteries of patients who have these problems."

The study included149 patients, aged 50 to 74, and used cardiac catheterization to let doctors visualize the inside of the heart and coronary arteries. Among the 129 patients with significant artery blockage, low blood levels of vitamin C correlated with unstable coronary syndrome.

Dr. ta cautioned that Vitamin C does not seem to reduce the buildup of deposits, only their likelihood of rupturing and causing angina or a heart attack.

"We do not yet recommend vitamin C for patients with coronary disease," he emphasized. "We simply don’t have any proof that it’s beneficial. But our study would help answer the question of why antioxidants work, if they turn out to work."