"We can see that those with the highest intake of fruit and vegetables have a 15 percent lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease and a 20 percent lower risk of early death compared with those who very rarely eat fruit and vegetables," stated Camilla Kobylecki, a medical doctor and Ph.D. student at Herlev and Gentofte Hospital's Department of Clinical Biochemistry.

"At the same time, we can see that the reduced risk is related to high vitamin C concentrations in the blood from the fruit and vegetables."

Vitamin C repairs connective tissue, mitigates oxidative stress, and prevents disease

This discovery highlights some important characteristics of vitamin C, including its ability to build and repair connective tissue throughout the body and inside the vital organs. Vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant, protecting cells and biological molecules from oxidative damage, which is a leading cause of cardiovascular disease and other chronic illnesses.

Natural vitamin C from food is obviously the best choice, with citrus fruits containing some of the highest levels among common produce. Acerola cherry and camu camu berry are also rich in vitamin C, containing some of the highest levels of vitamin C among all known foods.

"We know that fruit and vegetables are healthy, but now our research is pinpointing more precisely why this is so," added Boerge Nordestgaard, a clinical professor at the University of Copenhagen and consultant at Herlev and Gentofte Hospital.

"Eating a lot of fruit and vegetables is a natural way of increasing vitamin C blood levels, which in the long term may contribute to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and early death. You can get vitamin C supplements, but it is a good idea to get your vitamin C by eating a healthy diet, which will at the same time help you to develop a healthier lifestyle in the long term, for the general benefit of your health."

Vitamin C acts as a powerful cofactor in many bodily functions, including nutrient synthesis

The Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University (OSU) is a storehouse of scientific information about vitamin C. This nutrient functions as an essential cofactor in an array of enzymatic reactions, reveals data published by the institute, meaning it aids in the synthesis of other nutrients that the body uses to protect against disease.

"Inside our bodies, vitamin C functions as an essential cofactor in numerous enzymatic reactions, e.g., in the biosynthesis of collagen, carnitine, and catecholamines, and as a potent antioxidant," explains the institute.

"Prospective cohort studies indicate that higher intakes of vitamin C from either diet or supplements are associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), including coronary heart disease.