Nobel Prize Award Winner: Vitamin E and C Prevent Hardening of the Arteries!

July 13, 2004

The theory that antioxidants protects against arteriosclerosis and thereby cardiac thrombosis, brain haemorrhage, and more, is now supported by one of the World’s leading experts in the field.

The American Nobel laureate Louis J Ignarro from UCLA University in California recommends in clear terms that you take supplements of the antioxidants vitamin E and C.

– It works on mice, he says. It will work on humans too!

Ignarro is a chemist and pharmacologist by training, but he is first and foremost a world-renowned expert when it comes to blood vessels. In 1998, aged only 57, he received the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his discoveries of NO’s (nitrogen oxide) effect on the blood vessels.

It was a groundbreaking discovery. Previously, it was believed that this simple molecule was just a nuisance part of the air pollution over big cities.

Ignarro demonstrated that NO is a biologically active molecule that forms in the blood vessels and ensures that they stay open. He also showed that NO dramatically prevents platelets from clumping together and forming blood clots.

In the years around 1980, he discovered that the well-known heart medicine nitroglycerin – whose mode of action until then was a mystery – dilates the heart’s coronary arteries precisely by being converted to NO.

Ignarro’s research has been overwhelmingly inspiring for other researchers. Without his efforts, e.g. Viagra, which increases the NO content in the penis’ blood vessels, has been unthinkable.

In the new and very meticulous experiments, mice were used which, due to high cholesterol, were strongly predisposed to atherosclerosis. When the mice were allowed to complete a swimming program, the content of NO in the blood vessels increased and the extent of atherosclerosis was 35% less than in inactive mice.

When the mice were supplemented with both vitamin E and C instead of exercise, the protection was slightly greater than with exercise! But when they both swam and got vitamins, the effect was significantly enhanced.

The enhanced protection is explained by Ignarro with the fact that vitamins E and C are antioxidants that protect NO from being destroyed by oxygen. Thus, the two vitamins ensure, when taken together, a higher NO concentration in the blood vessels. Ignarro declares that what is good for mice – in this regard – is also good for humans!

He recommends exercising moderately and taking dietary supplements if you want to avoid atherosclerosis. Consequences of atherosclerosis is the most common cause of death in the Western world!

By: Vitality Council


Ignarro L J et al. Long Term Beneficial Effects of Physical Training and Metabolic Treatment on Atherosclerosis in Hypercholesterolemic Mice. PNAS 2004.

Vitamin C and E Protects Children Against Arteriosclerosis

September 1, 2003

Children and young people with increased cholesterol levels may reduce the risk of developing arteriosclerosis if they take a daily supplement of Vitamin C and E. This is the conclusion of a study published in Circulation, published by the American Heart Association.

15 children and young people of the age of 9 to 20 years were part of this study. Half of the children took a daily 500mg Vitamin C and 400i.e. (international units) Vitamin E supplement. The rest of the children took placebo. After 6 weeks the groups were switched.

After 6 weeks of active treatment the results showed a significant betterment of the inner wall of the artery. Vitamins alone do not reduce increased cholesterol, but the vitamins seem to be able to protect the blood vessels against sclerosis and thereby secure that the arteries remain their elasticity.

“This is the first time anyone has studied how antioxidants like Vitamin C and E can better circulatory function,” says the chairman of the Vitality Council, specialist doctor in general medicine, Claus Hancke.

“Even if it is a small study, the results are important for children with increased cholesterol. If they alternatively must have cholesterol lowering medicine for several years, the risk of serious side effects will be pretty high. It is therefore wise to give priority to diet changes and extra Vitamin C and E supplements as a first choice in therapy,” Claus Hancke says.

The American study also involved diet recommendations, but they did not follow those recommendations. Among other things the children got too much animal fat and too little fruit and vegetables. Therefore the doctors chose to combine the diet changes with Vitamin C and E supplementation.

The study is carried out at the University of California, under the supervision of Marguerite Engler, M.D.

By: Per Tork Larsen, DSOM

Circulation 2003;108:802