Life Extension Magazine®

Orange slices rich in vitamin C linked with immune system

In the News: Supplementation with Vitamin C Associated with Boost to Immunity

Alzheimer’s link to gum disease confirmed; vitamin C boosts immunity; vitamin K inhibits harmful calcium accumulation; nicotinamide may treat fibrotic eye diseases.

Scientifically reviewed by: Dr. Gary Gonzalez, MD, in March 2021. Written by: Life Extension Editorial Staff.

Supplementation with Vitamin C Associated with Boost to Immunity

Oranges and juice rich in vitamin C

A randomized, double-blind trial reported in BMJ Military Health showed that daily vitamin C supplementation resulted in a lower risk of contracting the common cold.*

In their discussion of the findings, the researchers remarked that vitamin C boosts immunity by improving white blood cell function against viruses. It also has an antihistamine action that helps reduce cold symptoms.

The trial included 1,444 men. For a period of 30 days, 695 participants received 2,000 mg of vitamin C three times per day. The other individuals were given a placebo.

The subjects supplemented with vitamin C were less likely to catch a cold compared to the placebo group.

The protective effect of vitamin C was found to be stronger among those who had never smoked.

Editor’s Note: The study participants were enlisted military members in the army of South Korea, whose average age was 21.7 years.

*BMJ Mil Health. 2020 Mar 5;bmjmilitary- 2019-001384.

Vitamin K Deficiency Associated with Harmful Calcium Accumulation

– Smiling woman looking at photos

Vitamin K deficiency plays a role in the development of a disease called calciphylaxis, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.1

In calciphylaxis, calcium accumulates in the small blood vessels of fat and skin tissues. It occurs mainly in patients on dialysis, and can cause blood clots, skin ulcers, skin infections, and ultimately, death.

In a study that included 20 hemodialysis patients with calciphylaxis and 20 without it, researchers found that people with the disease had higher plasma levels of inactive matrix Gla protein (MGP).

MGP is a potent inhibitor of vascular calcification, but in order to work properly, MGP needs to be activated by an enzyme that requires vitamin K.

The researchers found that patients with calciphylaxis had a lower concentration of activated MGP. In fact, for each 0.1 unit reduction in relative active MGP concentration, there was a more than 2-fold increase in calciphylaxis risk.

They also found that vitamin K deficiency was associated with a lower concentration of activated GMP.

This study indicates that adequate vitamin K is essential for processes that help prevent calciphylaxis in people on dialysis.

Editor’s Note: In a separate study, researchers found that vitamin K showed promise for treating calciphylaxis.2


  1. J Am Soc Nephrol. 2017 Jun;28(6):1717-22.
  2. Available at: Accessed April 22, 2020.

Connection Between Gum Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease Confirmed

Man running stairs after calcium accumulation

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation was the first to connect the presence of the gingivitis pathogen Porphyromonas gingivalis in the brain to factors associated with Alzheimer’s disease.*

Previously, numerous studies had shown that periodontitis (gum disease) is closely associated with cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease.

And studies done post-mortem had found that the periodontal pathogen Porphyromonas gingivalis is present in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.

In the more recent study, researchers induced experimental gingivitis in mice by giving them repeated oral doses of Porphyromonas gingivalis for 22 weeks. Another group of mice served as a control group.

Testing revealed that in the mice that received Porphyromonas gingivalis, the pathogen was present in the brain tissue in the hippocampus (the area of the brain that plays a major role in learning and memory).

In addition, the study showed that the presence of this pathogen added to numerous processes contributing to Alzheimer’s disease, including:

  • Neuroinflammation,
  • Neurodegeneration,
  • Microgliosis and astrogliosis (an indication of brain injury),
  • Formation of amyloid plaque, and
  • Formation of neurofibrillary tangles.

Editor’s Note: The researchers concluded that, “The neuropathological features observed in this study strongly suggest that low grade, chronic periodontal pathogen infection can result in the development of neuropathology that is consistent with that of [Alzheimer’s disease].”

*PLoS One. 2018 Oct 3;13(10):e0204941.

Nicotinamide Shows Promise for Treating Fibrotic Eye Diseases

Woman taking fibrotic disease test

Nicotinamide, a form of vitamin B3, has been identified as a possible treatment for fibrotic eye diseases and could potentially prevent vision loss, according to a study published in Stem Cell Reports.*

Fibrotic eye diseases occur when aggressive cell transformations during wound healing lead to scar tissue, retinal detachment, and ultimately, vision loss and blindness.

When researchers applied nicotinamide to human adult cells in vitro, they found that nicotinamide had three key mechanisms that make it a possible treatment for fibrotic eye diseases:

1. It inhibits harmful cell transformations.

2. It reverses the development of membranes associated with scar tissue.

3. It slows the development of eye diseases that can lead to vision loss and blindness.

Timothy Blenkinsop, Ph.D., the study’s co-lead investigator, said, “This discovery helps evolve our understanding of wound healing, as well as good inflammation versus bad inflammation. Good inflammation essentially nudges the system into a regenerative response, while bad inflammation can create harmful scar tissue formation.”

Editor’s Note: “This is an exciting time to understand how this compound [nicotinamide] can be used to treat and reverse not only fibrotic diseases of the retina but other diseases too,” Dr. Blenkinsop said.

*Stem Cell Reports. 2020 Apr 14;14(4):631-47.