Vitamin C works to boost blood flow, raise nitric oxide levels, lower blood pressure, and improve erectile dysfunction as well as libido. It can also lower cortisol and decrease inflammation. By lowering cortisol levels in menopausal women, Vitamin C can enhance the ability to maintain a healthy weight and lose excess body fat.
(STUDY) The Journal of Biological Chemistry, Jan 5 2001, 276:40-47, “L-Ascorbic Acid Potentiates Endothelial Nitric Oxide Synthesis via a Chemical Stabilization of Tetrahydrobiopterin”
Vitamin C works to raise nitric oxide levels by protecting tetrahydrobiopterin, a cofactor of eNOS, from oxidation. A cofactor is “a substance that acts with another substance to bring about certain effects – especially a coenzyme.” But, the protection of tetrahydrobiopterin is not the only way that Vitamin C increases baseline nitric oxide levels.
Vitamin C also increases nitric oxide levels by converting Nitrate in food to Nitric Oxide. Nitrate in food must be converted to nitrite before it can be converted to nitric oxide by the digestive system. Vitamin C converts the nitrite to nitric oxide. One set of studies noted that “”Vitamin C makes use of nitrite, by reducing it to nitric oxide and preventing nitrosamine formation in vitro and in vivo.”
(STUDY) Gut, 1989, 30:436-442, “Vitamin C in the human stomach: relation to gastric pH, gastroduodenal disease, and possible sources”
Vitamin C helps restore Endothelial Function in Heart Disease Patients. Many patients with arteriosclerosis are plagued with “endothelial dysfunction”, which means that the endothelium (lining of the arteries) cannot pump enough nitric oxide to lower blood pressure and increase blood flow (i.e. erections, etc.) However, Vitamin C has been found to help restore endothelial dysfunction in these cases, which is remarkable considering the severity of endothelial damage. What is more remarkable is that endothelial restoration occurred at the relatively small dosage of 500 mg/day.
(STUDY) Circulation, 1999, 99:3234-3240, “Long-Term Ascorbic Acid Administration Reverses Endothelial Vasomotor Dysfunction in Patients With Coronary Artery Disease”
(STUDY) Free Radic Biol Med, 2000 May 1, 28(9):1421-9, “How does ascorbic acid prevent endothelial dysfunction?”
Vitamin C also increases Citrulline Levels. Citrulline is a nutrient that is required to increase and sustain Nitric Oxide production, and it is vital to maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system. Men may also take Citrulline to improve erectile dysfunction. Interestingly, an in vitro study showed the Vitamin C can actually increase citrulline levels.
(STUDY) The Journal of Biological Chemistry, Mar 19 1999, 274:8254-8260, “L-Ascorbic Acid Potentiates Nitric Oxide Synthesis in Endothelial Cells”