For Heart Health, Be Sure You Eat Foods with this Vitamin


2017-02-02 14:19

Diet is an important part of the treatment of Atrial Fibrillation, including getting enough of this important vitamin.

At least 2.7 million Americans today are living with atrial fibrillation – also called A-Fib or AF – which is an irregular heartbeat that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure or other heart related complication. Treatment for the condition includes medications to restore the normal rhythm of the heart and blood thinners to prevent blood clots that can lead to stroke.

Lifestyle changes to reduce your risk of heart-related complications if you have A-Fib also include:
• Getting regular physical activity
• Eating a heart-healthy diet, low in salt, saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol
• Managing high blood pressure
• Avoiding excessive amounts of alcohol and caffeine
• Don’t smoke
• Maintain a healthy weight

As part of a healthy diet, you may want to ensure you are getting enough Vitamin C.

Researchers with the University of Helsinki, Finland conducted a review of vitamin C as it relates to Atrial Fibrillation in high risk patients. Oral administration of vitamin C decreased the occurrence of post-operative AF complications in 73% of patients studied. It also helped to slightly decrease length of hospital stay after surgery.

Fruits and vegetables are the best sources of vitamin C, especially citrus fruits, tomatoes and tomato juice, and potatoes. Other good food sources include red and green peppers, kiwifruit, broccoli, strawberries, Brussels sprouts, and cantaloupe.

High intake of fruits and vegetables are associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease as they are high in antioxidants. Oxidative damage is a major cause of CVD. Vitamin C may also improve the health of the endothelium – the tissue that forms the lining of the heart and the blood vessels.

The Recommended Daily Intake of Vitamin C is between 75-90 mg per day (higher if you smoke). Consuming five varied servings of fruits and vegetables a day can provide more than 200 mg if you plan your diet correctly.

Journal Reference:
Harri Hemilä, Timo Suonsyrjä. Vitamin C for preventing atrial fibrillation in high risk patients: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Cardiovascular Disorders, 2017; 17 (1) DOI: 10.1186/s12872-017-0478-5

Additional Resources:
American Heart Association
National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements

Photo Credit:
By Dylan.cronk - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons