Until recently, researchers have focused on vitamin C's role in fighting infection and have overlooked a function of vitamin C that may be even more critical - its role in preserving the health of the cardiovascular system. It is surprising that this role has been so overshadowed by vitamin C's other jobs because it is so important.
By bolstering vitamin E, Liposomal Vitamin C also protects against the oxidation of lipoproteins, the first step in a long cascade of events that lead to hardening of the arteries. Fats travel through the bloodstream on lipoproteins, balls that consist of lipid molecules, protein, and some antioxidants, including vitamin E. Lipoproteins are highly vulnerable to free radical attack. If a free radical attacks a lipoprotein, vitamin E will defend it by reducing the free radical and, by doing so, will become a free radical itself. If E remains a free radical, it will be lost to the antioxidant system, and the lipoprotein it protects will be defenseless against the next free radical it encounters. Fortunately, vitamin C can rescue the vitamin E radical. Water-soluble vitamin C travels through the bloodstream; when it encounters a lipoprotein, it curls up close to it or to the cell membrane, recharging the vitamin E radical. In addition, vitamin C can also defuse any free radicals that it encounters, helping the body maintain its antioxidant advantage.
Taking vitamin C supplements can reduce the risk of heart disease. According to the study conducted at the School of Public Health at UCLA under the direction of James Enstrom, men who took 300 milligrams of vitamin C daily had a 45 percent lower risk of heart disease than men who took less than 49 milligrams daily. It seems obvious that people who consume the lowest levels of vitamin C are not giving their bodies the tools they need to protect themselves against free radicals.
If you need more evidence that vitamin C is a heart-healthy vitamin, let me refer you to a fascinating study conducted at the University of Maryland School of Medicine that created quite a stir when it was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1997. The purpose of the study was to assess the short-term effect of a single high-fat meal on the functioning of the inner layer of an artery, the endothelium. Impairment of endothelial function can disrupt normal blood flow and is an early sign of heart disease. In the study, twenty healthy volunteers were given either a high-fat meal (consisting of 50 grams of fat), a low-fat meal (0 fat) or a high-fat meal and pretreatment with oral administration of 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C and 800 I.U. of vitamin E. After the meal, the researchers measured blood flow through the artery using an ultrasound device. They found that blood flow was negatively affected for up to four hours following the high-fat meal without supplements, but these negative changes did not occur in the people who ate the low-fat meal or in those who took supplements. By the way, this doesn't give you carte blanche to eat all the fat you want as long as you pop a vitamin pill before each meal. This test showed the effect of supplements on one high-fat meal, and we don't know whether it would have the same effect over the long term. I suspect that the sensible combination of watching your fat intake and taking your antioxidant network supplements will prove to be a one-two punch against heart disease.