Background: It has been suggested that a high dietary intake and high circulating concentrations of vitamin C may protect against ischemic heart disease.
Objectives: The objective was to examine the associations between dietary and plasma vitamin C concentrations, fruit and vegetable intakes, and markers of inflammation and hemostasis associated with cardiovascular disease in older men free of cardiovascular disease.
Design: This cross-sectional study examined 3258 men aged 60-79 y with no physician diagnosis of myocardial infarction, stroke, or diabetes and who were drawn from general practices in 24 British towns. Fruit and vegetable intakes and dietary vitamin C were assessed by using a food-frequency questionnaire.
Results: Plasma vitamin C, fruit intake, and dietary vitamin C intake were significantly and inversely associated with mean concentrations of C-reactive protein, an acute phase reactant, and tissue plasminogen activator (t-PA) antigen, a marker of endothelial dysfunction, even after adjustment for confounders. Vegetable intake was correlated significantly (inversely) only with t-PA. For plasma vitamin C (highest versus lowest quartile), the adjusted odds of elevated C-reactive protein and t-PA (highest tertile versus lowest tertile) were 0.56 (95% CI: 0.44, 0.71) and 0.79 (0.62, 1.00); for fruit intake, the corresponding odds ratios were 0.76 (0.60, 0.95) and 0.76 (0.61, 0.95). Plasma (but not dietary) vitamin C also showed inverse associations with both fibrinogen concentrations and blood viscosity. No associations were seen with von Willebrand factor or factor VIII.
Conclusion: The findings suggest that vitamin C has antiinflammatory effects and is associated with lower endothelial dysfunction in men with no history of cardiovascular disease or diabetes.