Vitamin C may offer protection against rheumatoid arthritis

June 10, 2004
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Vitamin C may offer protection against rheumatoid arthritis



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Vitamin C may offer protection against rheumatoid arthritis
A study published in the Annals of Rheumatic Disease, volume 63, 2004, has discovered a correlation between a low intake of fruits, vegetables and vitamin C and an increased risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. Increased free radicals and proinflammatory cytokines have been observed in rheumatoid arthritis, and products of free radical oxidation have been identified in inflamed rheumatoid joints, supporting the theory that inflammation is related to the activity of free radicals. Vitamin C, which is found in fresh fruits and vegetables, is a scavenger of free radicals, which therefore protects against oxidative damage and inflammation.

British researchers analyzed data obtained from the Norfolk, England arm of the European Prospective Investigation of Cancer (EPIC), which enrolled men and women aged 45 to 74 between1993 and 1997. Dietary information was provided by the completion of seven day diet diaries by 23,654 participants at the beginning of the study.

Seventy-three participants developed inflammatory polyarthritis, a condition in which there is inflammation in two or more joints and which frequently meets or goes on to meet the criteria for rheumatoid arthritis. These patients were each age and sexed matched with two controls that did not have the condition.

It was discovered that a low intake of fruits and vegetables was associated with twice the risk of developing inflammatory polyarthritis compared to those who reported a high intake. Vitamin C intake appeared to be even more important, with individuals whose consumption of the vitamin was in the lowest one third (less than 55.7 milligrams) having three times the risk of those whose vitamin C was in the highest third. When individuals whose vitamin C intake was below the UK recommended daily intake of 40 milligrams per day were compared to those whose intake was above this level, they were found to have an increased risk of inflammatory polyarthritis that was almost four times greater. Beta-carotene and vitamin E also appeared to have preventive properties, however they were not as protective as vitamin C. These results may have implications for the prevention of inflammatory polyarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.


The word arthritis literally means inflammation of the joint. Joints can become inflamed for many reasons, but most of us think of arthritis usually as one of two kinds: osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. These are two very distinct entities, and they are both a huge source of discomfort and disability. A significant amount of new research provides an understanding of both kinds of arthritis so that those who are afflicted may find relief.

Inflammation is a living tissue response to mechanical, chemical, and immunological challenge. Normal aging often results in the excessive production of autoimmune factors that destroy joint cartilage and other tissues in the body. Suppressing these inflammatory factors is a critical component of an effective arthritis treatment program.

Inflammation is partially characterized by high levels of arachidonic acid products which are metabolized along two different enzymatic pathways: cyclooxygenase (COX) and lipoxygenase, leading to prostaglandin (PGE-2) and leukotriene (LTB4). Some physicians believe these are the most important mediators of inflammation (Srivastava et al. 1992). PGE2 and LTB4 play a crucial role in arthritis by causing resorption of bone, stimulating the secretion of collagen breakdown enzymes, and inhibiting the formation of proteoglycans--the building blocks of cartilage.

The destruction of cartilage and bone in both osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is related to the action of matrix enzymes (metalloproteinases), which include collagenases and stromelysins (Birkedal-Hansen et al. 1993; Hill et al. 1994). Some of these enzymes have proinflammatory characteristics and some have anti-inflammatory properties. The varying balance between these forces probably accounts for the variation in disease activity as it flares up and subsides. These enzymes are under the control of cytokines, such as interleuken 1 (IL-1b) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), which are highly activated in RA and are elevated in the synovial membrane, the synovial fluid, and the cartilage of OA patients (Saklatvala 1986). Cytokines are proteins that carry messages between cells and regulate immunity and inflammation. In animal models, inhibition of TNF-alpha results in decreased inflammation, while inhibition of IL-1b effectively prevents cartilage destruction (Plows et al. 1995; Frye et al. 1996).

As noted, TNF-alpha and IL-1b have been identified as factors in the destruction of cartilage in both OA and RA. Studies show that the blockade of these aberrant immune factors can produce therapeutic results. Nettle leaf has been shown to reduce TNF-alpha levels and IL-1b. Nettle leaf also inhibits the genetic transcription factor that activates TNF-alpha in synovial tissue.

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  • 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

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Fat-soluble vitamin C (ascorbyl palmitate) may be as important as water-soluble vitamin C, yet most vitamin consumers have not even heard of ascorbyl palmitate. If you take Life Extension Mix, you are receiving a potent dose of fat-soluble ascorbyl palmitate. Each capsule of Dual-C contains 677 mg of fully reacted calcium ascorbate (gentle on the stomach and supplies calcium) and ascorbyl palmitate (to protect fat tissues from oxidation).

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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