Vitamins Antioxidants Against Heart Attack

Vitamins Antioxidants Against Heart Attack

Which ones are they

Antioxidant vitamins are   three types of molecules that are quite heterogeneous, both in terms of their chemical-physical characteristics and in terms of the food sources that contain them.

The antioxidant vitamins are:

  • Vitamin A  and β- carotene
  • C vitamin
  • Vitamin E

Water-soluble antioxidant vitamins

C vitamin

The only water-soluble antioxidant vitamin   is vitamin C or  L-ascorbic acid .  This vitamin has the ability to oxidize into dehydroascorbic acid and reversibly reduce; it intervenes in numerous functions of hydroxylation, favors the reduction of folic acid  and promotes the absorption of iron  by reduction of Fe 3+  to Fe 2+ .

As far as its antioxidant activity is concerned, vitamin C participates in the cellular defense processes FIGHTING THE  FREE RADICALS  of oxygen by donating an electron to the tocopheryl-radical; in this way, vitamin C restores the anti-radical activity of another antioxidant vitamin: vitamin  E or tocopherol .

Almost all of the vitamin C taken with food is absorbed, while at high doses almost 85% remains in the  faeces . Vitamin C deficiency
was   a  typical sign  of sailors who, lacking  fresh fruit and vegetables  to consume on long sea voyages, developed  scurvy . Today, fortunately, the lack of vitamin C no longer reaches similar levels even if it is not uncommon for the diet to be somewhat deficient (especially in the elderly population – about 9% of the elderly  ) ; excess vitamin C is not healthy but doses up to 10g/day “seem” safe.

Vitamin C is contained in foods of vegetable origin ( citrus fruits , kiwis ,  peppers ,  tomatoes  and  green leafy vegetables ) FRESH; on the contrary, the loss of vitamin C is proportional to the storage time, washing (by dilution), cooking  , light and oxidation.

The recommended ration of vit. C for adults should not be <10mg and should instead range between 45-60mg/day; smokers   have a greater need (about +30mg), as well as pregnant women (+10mg) and  nurses (  +30mg).

Fat-soluble antioxidant vitamins

Vitamin A and β-carotene

Vitamin A or  retinol  and β-carotene have the same  vitamin functions , even if six units of β-carotene correspond to each unit of retinol (and many more for the other 500-600  carotenoid species ). Retinol, present in animal foods, is stored in large quantities in the  liver  which (if needed) releases it into the circulation (quantities < 20mg/dl in the  blood  indicate imminent depletion of stocks); on the contrary, carotenoids are pigments found mainly in vegetables and  fruit .

Vitamin A is essential for cellular differentiation (also of the  immune system ), but the real  antioxidant function  is better attributable to  carotenoids  which (although having poor vitamin A function) by themselves neutralize singlet oxygen (a powerful PROoxidant).

Vitamin A and β-carotene deficiency is closely related to  vision disorders  (twilight blindness) and high incidence of  tumors  due to oxidative stress ; toxicity  occurs with doses of 300mg /day.

The recommended rations range from 350 retinol equivalents (RE) in children to 900 RE in nurses.

NB.  RE = 1 mg of retinol = 6 mg of β-carotene = 12 mg of other active carotenoids.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E includes several forms of  tocopherols: α , β, γ and δ tocopherol, although the most active is α-tocopherol; vitamin E is absorbed in the small intestine, also thanks to the action of  bile acids,  up to 20-40% of the total ingested. In the blood, vitamin E moves bound to  transport lipoproteins  and the richest deposits in the body are made up of  adipose tissue .

The antioxidant action  of vitamin E consists in blocking the degeneration of  polyunsaturated fatty acids  ( PUFA ), including the essential ones ( AGE ), activated by  peroxylipid free radicals ; this SHIELDING action represents one of the major defenses that the organism possesses against the stress of the AGEs contained in the  phospholipids  of the  cell membrane  (for the same reason, tocopherols are frequently used as an antioxidant additive in  vegetable oils rich in PUFA fatty acids ).

Vitamin E deficiency is almost unknown and does not occur in normal individuals, while pharmacological excess (>2000mg/day) can only be attributed to  intestinal disorders .

Vitamin E is contained in lipids of vegetable origin; seeds and all  dried fruit , some  cereals , wheat germ , fresh fruit and vegetables , soy and  peanuts are rich in it . Unfortunately, despite its diffusion, vitamin E is also very sensitive ; damage it: light, heat,  alkaloids ,  iron  and  copper . For this reason it would be advisable to introduce at least 0.4 mg of tocopherol equivalents (TE) in the diet for every gram of PUFA taken in the diet; e.g. on a 2000kcal diet and relative 5.5-5.6g of PUFA, approximately 2.2-2.3mg/day of vitamin E would be needed.

ACE Against Heart Attack

Scientific research has by now amply demonstrated that the lack of  vitamins A -CE (and to tell the truth also of  selenium ) favors the onset of unfortunate events affecting the cardio -circulatory system. However, if it is true that the lack of antioxidants predisposes to  ischemic heart disease , it is equally true that a diet  rich in  ACE vitamins is protective against myocardial infarction  and atherogenesis in general.

Analyzing the importance of antioxidants in the diet, it emerged that there is an inverse relationship between  plasma levels  of antioxidant vitamins and MORTALITY due to  ischemic heart disease , as well as an inverse relationship between the consumption of FRESH fruit and VEGETABLES rich in antioxidant vitamins and cardiovascular MORTALITY; moreover, a correlation between low levels of vitamin E and the presence of  angina pectoris ( heart pain ) is also suspected.

This simply translates into a PROTECTIVE function of antioxidant vitamins (and in particular of vitamin E) on  atherosclerotic pathologies .

It’s not all! Tocopherols also seem to hinder the oxidation of transport lipoproteins, preserving their integrity and efficiency, and therefore also their natural uptake by hepatic and peripheral receptors , preventing their interstitial deposition as a trigger of atherogenesis.

Attention!  Vitamin E supplementation may be contraindicated in patients on  anticoagulant treatment .


  • Post-infarction and associated pathologies. Preventive and curative interventions and associated pathologies. Volume II – A. Zangara – Piccin – page 431:433.


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