When a drug drops BP levels by a few lousy points, docs throw a party. When a vitamin does the same thing they claim, "it's only a few lousy points."

Which is it?

These days, docs are turning up their noses at an analysis of 29 studies that found 500 mg of vitamin C a day can trim 5 points off the systolic blood pressure (the top number) in patients with "high" blood pressure.

I'm not one to get excited over 5 points myself, but those same docs will tell anyone 5 points over the threshold -- a threshold that seems to get lower every year -- that they need medication.

So this should be good news to them, right?

Wrong!

"(B)efore we can recommend supplements as a treatment for high blood pressure, we really need more research to understand the implications of taking them," study author Edgar "Pete" R. Miller III, MD, PhD, wrote in a news release.

Really, Pete?

If there's any vitamin as well understood as vitamin C, I can't name it. You need this stuff, and plenty of it -- and while I've seen analysts claim the 500 mg a day in the study is a high dose, it's nothing of the sort.

It's what I call a "good start," because most people need about 1,200 mg a day -- and if you get that much, you might even shave a few more points off those BP levels.

But take it because you need more C -- not because you're worried about BP. In fact, if you're just 5 or so points off the target, you've got nothing to worry about.

If your levels suddenly shoot up for a reason that's not immediately obvious and then remain high, you might need a little more help -- and I don't mean a vitamin OR a med.

You need a doctor who can figure out why it happened. I suggest using a naturopathic doctor. You can find one in the directory on the Web site of the American College for Advancement in Medicine.