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Systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials testing the effects of vitamin C supplementation on blood lipids

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Background & aims: Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) in humans revealed contradictory results regarding the effect of vitamin C supplementation on blood lipids. We aimed to conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis of RCTs investigating the effect of vitamin C supplementation on total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (LDL-C), high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (HDL-C) and triglycerides and to determine whether the effects are modified by the participants' or intervention characteristics.Methods: Four databases (PubMed, Embase, Scopus and Cochrane Library) were searched from inception until August 2014 for RCTs supplementing adult participants with vitamin C for >= 2 weeks and reporting changes in blood lipids.Results: Overall, vitamin C supplementation did not change blood lipids concentration significantly. However, supplementation reduced total cholesterol in younger participants (<= 52 years age) (-0.26 mmol/L, 95% CI: -0.45, -0.07) and LDL-C in healthy participants (-0.32 mmol/L, 95% CI: -0.57, -0.07). In diabetics, vitamin C supplementation reduced triglycerides significantly (-0.15 mmol/L, 95% CI: -0.30, -0.002) and increased HDL-C significantly (0.06 mmol/L, 95% CI: 0.02, all). Meta-regression analyses showed the changes in total cholesterol (beta: -0.24, CI: -0.36, -0.11) and in triglycerides (beta: -0.17, CI: -0.30, -0.05) following vitamin C supplementation were greater in those with higher concentrations of these lipids at baseline. Greater increase in HDL-C was observed in participants with lower baseline plasma concentrations of vitamin C (beta: -0.002, CI: -0.003, -0.0001).Conclusions: Overall, vitamin C supplementation had no significant effect on lipid profile. However, subgroup and sensitivity analyses showed significant reductions in blood lipids following supplementation in sub-populations with dyslipidaemia or low vitamin C status at baseline.PROSPERO Database registration: CRD42014013487, (C) 2015 Elsevier Ltd and European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism. All rights reserved.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Ashor AW, Siervo M, van der Velde F, Willis ND, Mathers JC

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: Clinical Nutrition

Year: 2016

Volume: 35

Issue: 3

Pages: 626-637

Print publication date: 01/06/2016

Online publication date: 17/06/2015

Acceptance date: 30/05/2015

ISSN (print): 0261-5614

ISSN (electronic): 1532-1983



DOI: 10.1016/j.clnu.2015.05.021


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