Vitamin C reduces heart disease and early deaths

A new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition may finally help vitamin C regain some of the esteem it deserves. Turns out, men and women who take in more vitamin C have a significantly lower risk of developing heart disease and dying early.

It’s a real tragedy vitamin C–the mother of all nutrients–doesn’t get more respect.

Unfortunately, we never really studied vitamin C at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) when I was there 30 years ago. According to my former political bosses at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the two-time Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling had given the nutrient a bad name.

The mainstream government-industrial-medical complex branded Dr. Pauling a quasi-quack because he advocated the use of high doses of vitamin C to treat many diseases. Dr. Pauling also raised public awareness about the enormous importance of vitamin C. But the “elite” scientists didn’t like all the interest he garnered.

So at NCI, we weren’t allowed to study the vitamin…at all. But today, no one can deny the man’s real work in the field of chemistry…

Dr. Pauling is the first and only American to win two Nobel prizes. He won his first Nobel Prize for his work on the chemical structure of proteins. Eight years later, he earned a Nobel Peace Prize for trying to use his knowledge of chemistry to help society.

Of course, Dr. Pauling also investigated the ability of vitamin C to prevent and treat conditions such as cancer, infections, and heart disease. We now know you have to get vitamin C in the right doses and right forms.

Plus, unlike a recent Nobel Peace Prize winner, Pauling didn’t just show up for work–he actually had to do something.

Thirty years ago, there were only two Nobel laureates working at the vast NIH research complex–Julius Axelrod and Carleton Gajdusek. Gajdusek won the Nobel Prize in 1976. He shared the Prize that year with my faculty advisor at Penn, Baruch Blumberg. Both scientists performed investigations in what would be called biomedical anthropology. I worked with Blumberg for my M.D./Ph.D. degree in Biomedical Anthropology. Later, I invited Gajdusek to work with me and U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop on the National Museum of Health and Medicine education project in Washington, D.C. Both Nobel laureates are now deceased and there are none at NIH today. Well–what good scientist would want to work in the political pit of NIH today?

Of course, the Nobel Prize medallion is awarded in Stockholm. But the closest my political bosses at NIH ever got to a medallion from Stockholm was on a bottle of Absolut vodka. Although they did take many taxpayer-funded junkets to Scandinavia to study what scientists there were doing with their NIH-funded research. Apparently, NIH researchers can’t be bothered anymore to actually do the real research themselves.

Back to vitamin C…

In this new study, researchers evaluated almost 100,000 people as part of the Copenhagen General Population Study and the Copenhagen City Heart Study. They found strong evidence that linked high levels of blood plasma vitamin C to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and dying early.

In fact, men and women who consumed the most fruits and vegetables–which contain vitamin C as part of the food matrix–had about a 13 percent lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease and a 20 percent lower risk of early, all-cause mortality compared to those who rarely ate fruits or vegetables.

Of course, we have known about the health benefits of higher intakes of fruits and vegetables for a long time. Back at NIH 30 years ago, the political scientists insisted the effect was due to the beta-carotene content of these foods. I warned them they were wrong. Unfortunately, they went forward and gave beta-carotene supplements to people anyway…and with disastrous effects.

In any case, as I will explain more fully in an upcoming issue of my Insiders’ Cures newsletter, people don’t eat vitamins. They eat foods that contain a combination of different nutrients. Now let’s take that premise one step further: These nutrients then work together in the body, in combination.

So, for one, you should always strive to eat healthy, whole foods that contain combinations of nutrients. Also, you should always take dietary supplements in combination as well.

Those tiny, “one-a-day” pills–like the cartoonish capsules on the “Jetsons”–are really a scientific impossibility. They can’t provide all your nutritional needs, even if they were high-quality and well-formulated–which they are not.

So, according to the new study, just how many fruits and vegetables did people actually eat to increase their vitamin C?

-8 percent of participants said they almost never eat fruits or vegetables (71 percent of them were men)

-21 percent said they eat these foods less than once per day (59 percent were men)

-34 percent said they eat these foods once per day (45 percent were men)

-37 percent eat them more than twice per day (only 31 percent were men)

So let’s bring these findings full circle…

Clearly, men eat far fewer fruits and vegetables daily than women. They also have a higher risk for heart disease and die younger than women.

The researchers went on to conduct further statistical analysis to try and isolate vitamin C’s contribution from other nutrients present in fruits and vegetables. They also looked at genetic influences of higher blood plasma vitamin C levels in a sub-group of the study.

But what’s the point?  You can’t change your genetics.

But you can eat plenty of fruits and vegetables every day.

And make sure to take dietary supplements in combination–including a daily B vitamin complex, 10,000 IU of vitamin D daily, 400 IU of vitamin E daily, and 500 mg vitamin C twice daily.

P.S. In 1984, a colleague of mine at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) uncovered the powerful role vitamin C plays in cancer prevention. But our bosses at NCI ignored her stunning research. You can read all about this incredible cover-up in my special report Classified Cancer Answers. If you’re a subscriber to my Insider’s Cures newsletter, you can access it for free by logging onto my website at with your username and password. If you’re not yet a subscriber, become one now so you can instantly access this important report.


Genetically high plasma vitamin C, intake of fruit and vegetables, and risk of ischemic heart disease and all-cause mortality: a Mendelian randomization study. Am J Clin Nutr 2015; 101: 1135-1143