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hand grabbing an orange (Photo : Reuters)

A small study has revealed that Vitamin C supplements can be an effective method of narrowing thickened blood vessels in overweight and obese adults. Findings showed that taking Vitamin C tablets or capsules can have the same effect as exercising, on a particular protein related to blood flow. This can improve heart health and reducing the risk of stroke, heart disease, and early death.

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The study included 35 adults who were either overweight or obese. It was conducted by Dr. Caitlin Dow from the University of Colorado (Boulder) and presented at the International Conference on Endothelin.    

Researchers examined the effect of Vitamin C and exercise on the endothelin-1 protein. It causes small blood vessels to constrict.

Small blood vessels are more likely to narrow and not to meet blood flow demands. This increases the risk of vascular disease.

The researchers explained that exercise can make endothelin-1 more inactive. Past studies show that regular exercise is more effective in increasing metabolism and lowering cholesterol, according to Pulse Headlines. However, it can be difficult to add physical activity to one's lifestyle.

In the study medical researchers learned that daily Vitamin C supplements lowered endothelin-1 activity as much as walking. The volunteers took 500 mg of ascorbic acid.    

Among the 35 overweight or obese adults with a sedentary lifestyle, 20 completed three months of daily supplements, according to Medical News Today. Meanwhile, 15 volunteers did aerobic exercise.  

Researchers took various health readings such as forearm blood flow and endothelin-1 response during the study. It was before and after each dietary supplement or cardio workout.

Vascular constriction increased roughly the same in response to both interventions. It was about two-fold.

Heart disease is the top cause of death in the United States. Every year about 610,000 people pass away due to the ailment.

This video explains some key functions and benefits of Vitamin C: