Vitamin C supplements can reduce levels of C- reactive protein, a marker of inflammation and chronic disease risk in humans, according to a new study led by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley. Participants who took about 500 mg of vitamin C supplements per day saw a 24% drop in plasma C-reactive protein (CRP) levels after two months.
“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,” said Gladys Block, lead author of the study. “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.”
Inflammation occurs as part of the body’s defense against infection or injury. But long-term adverse health effects can occur when inflammation persists at low levels. This chronic inflammation has been found among smokers and Type 2 diabetics, as well as among overweight or obese persons. They say that scientists have only recently begun to understand such chronic inflammation as an important factor in disease.
“Several large studies have suggested that CRP may be a better predictor of heart disease than cholesterol levels, although this has been questioned,” said Marion Dietrich, a UC Berkeley researcher. “Still, CRP is widely recognized as an important biomarker for inflammation. Elevated CRP concentrations have been found in obese people, indicating that obesity is associated with chronic inflammation. The association may help explain why overweight people are at increased risk for chronic disease development such as diabetes, heart disease or certain types of cancer.”
University of California – Berkeley, Apr 12, 2004