Give Gout the Runaround with Vitamin C

Healthnotes Newswire (April 23, 2009)—Eating plenty of daily vitamin C may help men lower their risk of a painful type of arthritis known as gout. The Archives of Internal Medicine reports that men who eat 500 mg per day or more of vitamin C may lower their risk of gout compared with men who eat less.

Gout, the most common type of inflammatory arthritis in men, most often affects middle-aged or overweight men who are frequent alcohol drinkers. Medications such as diuretics (“water pills”) and medical conditions such as diabetes may also increase the risk of gout. Medications are available, but this painful condition can damage joints and is best avoided if possible. Now new research shows that getting enough vitamin C may be one option for lowering the risk of this type of arthritis.

More C is better

In this study, called the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, 46,994 men filled out questionnaires every four years for 20 years, detailing their medical history, diet, supplement use, and the amount of daily vitamin C they ate. All participants were over age 40 and none had a prior history of gout. Results of the study showed that:

• Men who ate more total vitamin C from both food and supplements had a lower risk of developing gout compared with men who ate less.

• Men who ate 1,500 mg per day of vitamin C had the lowest risk for developing gout compared with men who ate less than 250 mg per day.

• But, men who ate 500 mg per day also had a lower risk compared with men who ate less than 250 mg per day.

Researchers Hyon Choi and colleagues from the Arthritis Research Centre of Canada, University of British Columbia, in Vancouver, Canada, state, “Using the American College of Rheumatology criteria for gout, we found that the risk of gout decreased with increasing vitamin C intake, resulting in up to a 45% lower risk at the top vitamin C intake of 1,500 mg or more.”

Tips about vitamin C

The Institute of Medicine’s Food and Nutrition Board recommends 75 mg per day of vitamin C for adult women and 90 mg per day for adult men, less than what was used in this study to help decrease the risk of gout. People who are interested in the role of vitamin C in preventing gout should talk with their doctor about their recommendations for gout prevention and discuss the use of vitamin C as one option. The Institute of Medicine’s recommended upper level of intake of vitamin C is less than 2,000 mg per day.

Here are some additional tips on how to include vitamin C in your diet:

• Vitamin C is plentiful in fruits and vegetables and eating a balanced diet is one way to get enough daily vitamin C.

• Most fruits and vegetables contain vitamin C but citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruits and orange juice are especially loaded. Green peppers and broccoli are also good sources.

• Vitamin C as a stand-alone supplement or part of a multivitamin can add to total daily vitamin C, but talk with a doctor before taking dietary supplements.

• Fruit juices are often packed with vitamin C but watch out for fruit drinks that are mostly artificial and loaded with added sugar.

(Arch Intern Med 2009;169:502-7)

Jane Hart, MD, board-certified in internal medicine, serves in a variety of professional roles including consultant, journalist, and educator. Dr. Hart, a Clinical Instructor at Case Medical School in Cleveland, Ohio, writes extensively about health and wellness and a variety of other topics for nationally recognized organizations, Web sites, and print publications. Sought out for her expertise in the areas of integrative and preventive medicine, she is frequently quoted by national and local media. Dr. Hart is a professional lecturer for healthcare professionals, consumers, and youth and is a regular corporate speaker.

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