Vitamin C May Save Older Men the Extreme Pain
Associated with Gout
This inflammatory arthritis usually attacks
middle-aged men but about equal for sexes after age 60
March 9, 2009 - Men with higher vitamin C intake
appear less likely to develop gout, an extremely painful type of
arthritis, which normally strikes men between ages 40 and 60, according
to a report in the March 9 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one
of the JAMA/Archives journals. After age 60, however, the goat strikes
evenly between men and women. By age 80, this arthritis hits mostly
women. Yet, this study did not include women.
"Gout is the most common type of inflammatory
arthritis in men," the authors write as background information in the
"Epidemiologic studies suggest that the overall
disease burden of gout is substantial and growing. The identification of
the risk factors for gout that are modifiable with available measures is
an important first step in the prevention and management of this common
and excruciatingly painful condition."
Hyon K. Choi, M.D., Dr.P.H., then of University of
British Columbia, Vancouver, and now of Boston University School of
Medicine, and colleagues examined the relationship between vitamin C
intake and gout in 46,994 men between 1986 and 2006.
Every four years, the men completed a dietary
questionnaire, and their vitamin C intake through food and supplements
was computed. Every two years, participants reported whether they had
been diagnosed with or developed symptoms of gout.
During 20 years of follow-up, 1,317 men developed
Compared with men who had a vitamin C intake of
less than 250 milligrams per day, the relative risk of gout was as
● 17 percent lower for those with a daily intake of 500 to 999
● 34 percent lower for those with an intake of 1,000 to 1,499
milligrams per day and
● 45 percent lower for those with an intake of 1,500 milligrams per
day or higher.
All About Gout the disease
Once called the disease of
kings, gout has long been associated with portly men
especially those who could afford to overindulge in rich foods
and alcohol. But, in truth, gout can be a royal pain for both
men and women, regardless of wealth or body size.
Gout occurs when excess uric
acid, a bodily waste product circulating in the bloodstream, is
deposited as needle-shaped monosodium urate crystals in tissues
of the body, including the joints. For many people, the first
symptom of gout is excruciating pain and swelling in the big toe
often following a trauma, such as an illness or injury.
Subsequent attacks may occur off and on in other joints,
primarily those of the foot and knee, before becoming chronic.
In its chronic stage, gout can affect many joints, including
those of the hands. Other problems related to gout can include
the formation of tophi, or lumps of crystals under the skin, in
the joints and in bone; kidney stones; and impaired kidney
Who gets gout?
Gout affects an estimated
2.1 million Americans. Men in their 40s and 50s are most likely
to develop gout. But by age 60, gout affects men and women
roughly equally. After age 80 more women than men have gout.
For every 500-milligram increase in their vitamin C
intake, men's risk for gout appeared to decrease by 17 percent.
Compared with men who did not take vitamin C
supplements, those who took 1,000 to 1,499 supplemental milligrams per
day had a 34 percent lower risk of gout and those who took 1,500
supplemental milligrams per day had a 45 percent lower risk.
Vitamin C appears to reduce levels of uric acid in
the blood, the authors note; a buildup of this naturally occurring
compound can form crystal deposits in and around joints, leading to the
pain, inflammation and swelling associated with gout.
Vitamin C may affect reabsorption of uric acid by
the kidneys, increase the speed at which the kidneys work or protect
against inflammation, all of which may reduce gout risk, the authors
"Given the general safety profile associated with
vitamin C intake, particularly in the generally consumed ranges as in
the present study (e.g., tolerable upper intake level of vitamin C of
less than 2,000 milligrams in adults according to the Food and Nutrition
Board, Institute of Medicine), vitamin C intake may provide a useful
option in the prevention of gout," they conclude.
Editor's Note: This work was supported in part by
grants from the National Institutes of Health and by TAP
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is a water-soluble
vitamin, which is necessary in the body to form collagen in bones,
cartilage, muscle, and blood vessels and aids in the absorption of iron.
Dietary sources of vitamin C include fruits and vegetables, particularly
citrus fruits such as oranges.