Vitamin C supplements lower C reactive protein levels

April 15, 2004
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Life Extension Update Exclusive:

Vitamin C supplements lower C-reactive protein levels


Chronic Inflammation

Featured Products of the Week:

Vitamin C capsules

ArthroPro System

Life Extension Update Exclusive

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.”


Chronic inflammation
Chronic systemic inflammation is an underlying cause of many seemingly unrelated, age-related diseases. As humans grow older, systemic inflammation can inflict devastating degenerative effects throughout the body (Ward 1995; McCarty 1999; Brod 2000). This fact is often overlooked by the medical establishment, yet persuasive scientific evidence exists that correcting a chronic inflammatory disorder will enable many of the infirmities of aging to be prevented or reversed.

The pathological consequences of inflammation are well documented in the medical literature (Willard et al. 1999; Hogan et al. 2001). Regrettably, the dangers of systemic inflammation continue to be ignored, even though proven ways exist to reverse this process. By following specific prevention protocols suggested by the Life Extension Foundation, the inflammatory cascade can be significantly reduced.

Scientists have identified dietary supplements and prescription drugs that can reduce levels of the pro-inflammatory cytokines. The docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) fraction of fish oil is the best documented supplement to suppress TNF-a, IL-6, IL-1(b), and IL-8 (Jeyarajah et al. 1999; James et al. 2000; Watanabe et al. 2000; Yano et al. 2000). A study on healthy humans and those with rheumatoid disease shows that fish oil suppresses these dangerous cytokines by up to 90% (James et al. 2000).

Other cytokine-lowering supplements are DHEA (Casson et al. 1993), vitamin K (Reddi et al. 1995; Weber 1997), GLA (gamma linolenic acid) (Purasiri et al. 1994), and nettle leaf extract (Teucher et al. 1996). Antioxidants, such as vitamin E (Devaraj et al. 2000) and N-acetyl-cysteine (Gosset et al. 1999), may also lower proinflammatory cytokines and protect against their toxic effects.

Featured Products of the Week

Vitamin C capsules

Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is a white, crystalline, water-soluble substance found in citrus fruits and green vegetables. As an antioxidant, vitamin C scavenges free radicals in the body and protects tissues from oxidative stress. Vitamin C also promotes the absorption of iron, while preventing its oxidation. Vitamin C is a vital cofactor to the formation of collagen, the connective tissue that supports arterial walls, skin, bones, and teeth. It also assists in the production of thyroxin, the thyroid hormone that regulates metabolic rate.

ArthroPro System

Multiple degenerative processes occur due to agents that promote systemic inflammation. These inflammatory agents include, cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), 5-lipooxygenase (5-LOX), and damaging cytokines known as tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-a) and interleukin-1 beta (IL-1b). Other harmful enzymes are collagenase and phospholipase. Thus, the goal is to block all the destructive pathways involved.

The ArthroPro multi-nutrient formula:

  • Suppresses TNF-a and IL-1b through its super concentrated nettle leaf extract ingredient
  • Inhibits 5-LOX with the inclusion of inflammatory blocker 5-Loxin™
  • Protects against the damaging effects of the COX-2 enzyme with the agent Nexrutine®
  • Includes gingerols (from ginger powder extract), which restrain the cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase cascade and the production of thromboxane and leukotriene, powerful triggers of pain and inflammation
  • Helps to maintain healthy joint cartilage with the addition of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, which also controls collagenase and phospholipase.

Reader request

In regard to Monday’s lead story on the oldest living mouse, one of Life Extension Update’s readers asked to see a photo of Yoda and his companion, Princess Leia. We thought the rest of our readers might enjoying seeing the picture as well. (Photo will not be viewable if you receive the text version of Life Extension Update.)

Yoda sniffing his companion, Princess Leia. Dwarf mice always are housed with larger females to provide the body warmth needed to protect the smaller dwarf mice from freezing to death.

Photo credit: Richard A. Miller, U-M Medical School

If you have questions or comments concerning this issue or past issues of Life Extension Update, send them to or call 954 766 8433 extension 7716.

For longer life,

Dayna Dye
Editor, Life Extension Update
1100 West Commercial Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale FL 33309
954 766 8433 extension 7716

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