More vitamin C may lower chances of gout
Published Tuesday, March 10, 2009 10:48AM EDT
King Henry VIII should have tried eating a few more oranges to prevent the gout he famously suffered from, suggests the findings of a new Canadian study.
Researchers from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver have found that men who take vitamin C supplements or eat foods loaded with the nutrient have a lower risk of developing gout.
Gout is a form of arthritis that causes inflamed joints due to uric acid build-up. The compound can form crystal deposits in and around joints, leading to pain, inflammation and swelling.
The condition typically affects men age 40 and older, although it can also strike women. It's linked to alcohol abuse, a diet heavy in meat and cheese, and obesity.
The researchers believe their study shows that vitamin C lower levels of uric acid in the blood and may provide a great way to prevent the painful condition.
Dr. Hyon Choi (who at the time was at UBC but is now at the Boston University School of Medicine) led a team that looked at data on 46,994 men taking part in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, between 1986 and 2006.
Every four years, the men completed a dietary questionnaire, and their vitamin C intake through foods and vitamin supplements was recorded. Every two years, the men reported whether they had been diagnosed with or developed symptoms of gout.
The researchers found that, compared with men who had a vitamin C intake of less than 250 milligrams per day, the relative risk of gout was:
- 17 per cent lower for those with a daily intake of 500 to 999 mg per day
- 34 per cent lower for those with an intake of 1,000 to 1,499 mg per day
- 45 per cent lower for those with an intake of 1,500 mg per day or higher
Nearly all the men who had vitamin C intakes over 500 mg per day took vitamin C supplements. Researchers found that for every 500 mg of vitamin C the men took, the risk of gout was reduced by an additional 15 per cent.
Vitamin C appears to reduce levels of uric acid in the blood, the authors note, either by affecting reabsorption of uric acid by the kidneys, increasing the speed at which the kidneys work or protecting against inflammation.
Choi points out that gout is the most common type of inflammatory arthritis in men and studies suggest its incidence is growing.
The researchers say that given the general safety taking no more than 2,000 mg of vitamin C a day, the vitamin may be a simple and effective way of preventing gout.
The study is published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.