Effects of inorganic nitrate and vitamin C co-supplementation on blood pressure and vascular function in younger and older healthy adults: A randomised double-blind crossover trial

Clin Nutr. 2020 Mar;39(3):708-717. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2019.03.006. Epub 2019 Mar 20.


Background: Vitamin C and inorganic nitrate have been linked to enhanced nitric oxide (NO) production and reduced oxidative stress. Vitamin C may also enhance the conversion of nitrite into NO.

Aims: We investigated the potential acute effects of vitamin C and inorganic nitrate co-supplementation on blood pressure (BP) and peripheral vascular function. The secondary aim was to investigate whether age modified the effects of vitamin C and inorganic nitrate on these vascular outcomes.

Methods: Ten younger (age 18-40 y) and ten older (age 55-70 y) healthy participants were enrolled in a randomised double-blind crossover clinical trial. Participants ingested a solution of potassium nitrate (7 mg/kg body weight) and/or vitamin C (20 mg/kg body weight) or their placebos. Acute changes in resting BP and vascular function (post-occlusion reactive hyperemia [PORH], peripheral pulse wave velocity [PWV]) were monitored over a 3-h period.

Results: Vitamin C supplementation reduced PWV significantly (vitamin C: -0.70 ± 0.31 m/s; vitamin C placebo: +0.43 ± 0.30 m/s; P = 0.007). There were significant interactions between age and vitamin C for systolic, diastolic, and mean arterial BP (P = 0.02, P = 0.03, P = 0.02, respectively), with systolic, diastolic and mean BP decreasing in older participants and diastolic BP increasing in younger participants following vitamin C administration. Nitrate supplementation did not influence BP (systolic: P = 0.81; diastolic: P = 0.24; mean BP: P = 0.87) or vascular function (PORH: P = 0.05; PWV: P = 0.44) significantly in both younger and older participants. However, combined supplementation with nitrate and vitamin C reduced mean arterial BP (-2.6 mmHg, P = 0.03) and decreased PWV in older participants (PWV: -2.0 m/s, P = 0.02).

Conclusions: The co-administration of a single dose of inorganic nitrate and vitamin C lowered diastolic BP and improved PVW in older participants. Vitamin C supplementation improved PWV in both age groups but decreased systolic and mean BP in older participants only.

Clinical trial registration: Current Controlled Trials (ISRCTN98942199).

Keywords: Aging; Arterial stiffness; Ascorbic acid; Blood pressure; Dietary nitrate; Vascular function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

Associated data

  • ISRCTN/ISRCTN98942199