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Gout and Vitamin C

March 10, 2009 Written by JP    [Font too small?]

If you’ve ever had gout, you know exactly what it is. Gout is a type of arthritis that occurs when uric acid crystals form in your joints. Unlike the most common forms of arthritis, gout pain comes and goes. When it strikes, it can provoke intense, burning pain and swelling in the affected joints. The joint in the “big toe” is a frequent site of a gout attack.

There are conventional treatments for this dreaded condition, such as the use of anti-inflammatory medications and corticosteroids. But the standard medical care isn’t always successful and it’s not without risk of serious side effects.

What Gout Looks Like

Fortunately, there are safe and natural ways that can help reduce the prevalence of gout and help protect you from this “pain in the toe”.

Ascorbic Acid vs. Uric Acid

A study just published in the Archives of Internal Medicine provides powerful support for the preventive role of vitamin C in the management of gout. This trial comes on the heels of prior research that suggests an association between higher vitamin C consumption and lower levels of uric acid (which can contribute to gout).

Researchers from the Boston University School of Medicine carefully constructed a protocol to determine if there was any connection between vitamin C intake and gout attacks. The following elaborates on the study design:

  • Data was collected from almost 50,000 men over the course of 20 years.
  • Food and supplement questionnaires were provided every 4 yours to estimate daily vitamin C consumption.

At the conclusion of the 20 year period, the researchers tabulated all the data from the patients’ medical histories and questionnaires. The results of their analysis revealed a striking and irrefutable pattern:

  • In total, there were 1,317 documented cases of gout reported.
  • The men who consumed between 500 to 999 mg of vitamin C were 17% less likely to develop gout than those with intakes less than 250 mg.
  • The participants who took 1,000 to 1,499 mg of vitamin C daily were protected by 34%.
  • The top tier of vitamin C users (1,500 mg or greater) displayed the greatest level of protection – 45%.

This led the authors of the study to proclaim that, “These prospective data indicate that vitamin C intake is strongly associated with a lower risk of gout.” They went on to suggest that, “Increasing vitamin C intake may be beneficial in the prevention of gout.”

I think it’s important to consider such information in the larger context of overall good health. For instance, high levels of uric acid may also contribute to the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Since these two conditions are implicated as the leading causes of death and disease in the modern world, it would wise to address them in every way possible.

Coffee May Prevent Gout

There are other scientifically proven methods to reduce the likelihood of gout. A few of the best options are summarized from a recent collection of scientific papers:

When I look at the totality of the information presented here, I attempt to see the big picture. For me, that means trying to incorporate a little bit of everything. It may not be enough to just take vitamin C or to simply drink lots of coffee. Even if that would be adequate, by utilizing the other preventive steps, you’ll likely support your body in areas far beyond your big toe.

Be well!


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Posted in Bone and Joint Health

One Comment to “Gout and Vitamin C”

  1. JP Says:

    Updated 12/05/15:


    Arthritis Rheumatol. 2015 Dec 4.

    Effects of Lowering Glycemic Index of Dietary Carbohydrate on Plasma Uric Acid: The OmniCarb Randomized Clinical Trial.

    OBJECTIVE: The effects of carbohydrates on plasma uric acid levels are controversial. We determined the individual and combined effects of carbohydrate quality (glycemic index, GI) and quantity (proportion of total daily energy, %carb) on uric acid.

    METHODS: We conducted a randomized, crossover feeding trial in overweight or obese adults without cardiovascular disease (N=163). Participants were fed each of four diets over 5-week periods separated by 2-week washout periods. Body weight was kept constant. The four diets were: high GI (GI ≥65) with high %carb (58% kcal), low GI (GI ≤45) with low %carb (40% kcal), low GI with high %carb; and high GI with low %carb. Plasma uric acid was measured at baseline and after each feeding period for comparison between the 4 diets.

    RESULTS: Study participants were 52% women and 50% non-Hispanic black with a mean age of 52.6 years and a mean uric acid of 4.7 (SD, 1.2) mg/dL. Reducing GI lowered uric acid when the %carb was low (-0.24 mg/dL; P <0.001) or high (-0.17 mg/dL; P <0.001). Reducing the %carb marginally increased uric acid only when GI was high (P = 0.05). The combined effect of lowering GI and increasing the %carb was -0.27 mg/dL (P <0.001). This effect was observed even after adjustment for concurrent changes in kidney function, insulin sensitivity, and products of glycolysis.

    CONCLUSIONS: Reducing GI lowers uric acid. Future studies should examine whether reducing GI can prevent gout onset or flares.

    Be well!


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