Vitamin C supplements lower C-reactive protein levels
A team of University of California researchers including Lester Packer PhD of UCLA demonstrated for the first time that vitamin C supplements can lower C-reactive protein (CRP) levels in the blood. C-reactive protein is a marker of inflammation and chronic disease risk in humans. Chronic inflammation accompanied by low levels of CRP has been found in smokers, type 2 diabetics, and obese and overweight individuals. The study was published in the April 2004 Journal of the American College of Nutrition.
One hundred sixty healthy adults who smoked or were exposed to smoke were randomized to receive 515 milligrams vitamin C, an antioxidant mixture containing vitamin C, alpha-tocopherol, gamma-tocopherol, tocotrienols and alpha-lipoic acid, or a placebo for two months. Blood samples were analyzed for C-reactive protein before and after the treatment period. While the antioxidant mixture elicited a small reduction in CRP levels after two months and the placebo was associated with a small increase, vitamin C alone produced at 24 percent reduction in plasma CRP levels.
Lead author and professor of epidemiology and public health nutrition at UC Berkeley, Gladys Block, PhD, commented, “C-reactive protein is a marker of inflammation, and there is a growing body of evidence that chronic inflammation is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and even Alzheimer’s disease. If our finding of vitamin C’s ability to lower CRP is confirmed through other trials, vitamin C could become an important public health intervention.”
Dr Bock was recently awarded a grant by The National Institutes of Health to conduct another randomized trial to confirm vitamin C’s effect on CRP levels. Meanwhile the authors recommend that people consume lots of fruits and vegetables to obtain a variety of dietary nutrients. Dr Bock added, “I believe all adults should take a multivitamin every day. As for vitamin C, a 500 milligram daily dose is safe, and I believe it is a very important nutrient.”