The Right Amount of Vitamin C
Vitamin C may help prevent some forms of arthritis, but too much of it may worsen other kinds. Here’s how to find a happy medium.
If you’ve been loading up on vitamin C to reduce your risk of inflammatory arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), or skipping C entirely to prevent accelerated joint damage from osteoarthritis (OA), you can relax. The USDA’s recommendation of 75 milligrams (mg) per day for women and 90 mg per day for men remains the golden mean for vitamin C consumption.
Questions regarding the appropriate vitamin C amount for people with arthritis arose in 2004 when two back-to-back studies reported decidedly contradictory results. The first, an animal study at Duke University, Durham, N.C., found that very high levels of vitamin C triggered a protein that causes bone spurs, accelerating joint damage and pain in subjects who had OA. The second study, conducted in Great Britain, determined that people who had low levels of vitamin C were three times more likely to develop RA than people whose diets included foods rich in vitamin C.
Though the study reports reflected both ends of the C spectrum, they show that getting the right amount of vitamin C is key for both preventing inflammatory arthritis and maintaining healthy joints with OA.
Without a doubt, vitamin C benefits most people. So keep a happy balance of C-rich foods, including red peppers, strawberries and citrus fruits, in your diet.