Higher intakes of vitamin C from supplements and from food robustly reduce a mans risk of gout

March 19, 2009

Gout is a disease caused by a disturbance in uric acid metabolism. During a gout attack uric acid builds up in the smaller joints of the body (such as in the big toe) creating painful urate crystal deposits known as tophi that cause tremendous inflammation in the affected joints. Gout is usually caused by over-consumption of particular foods and many people have a genetic predisposition. Alcohol, especially beer intake is also linked to gout. Chemotherapy, radioactive dies used in diagnostic tests, starvation and dehydration, and some illnesses also increase the risk of gout.  

According to findings published in the new issue of the journal Archives of Internal Medicine, for every 500 milligrams increase in vitamin C intake, a mans risk of gout is cut by 17%. For men with vitamin C intakes of at least 1,500 milligrams per day, the risk of gout was cut by 45%, said the findings of a prospective study including 46,994 men conducted by researchers from Boston University School of Medicine. “The present study, to our knowledge, provides the first prospective evidence about the inverse association between vitamin C intake and risk of gout,” wrote the researchers, led by Dr. Hyon Choi. “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,” added Dr. Choi and his research team.  

Choi and his co-workers evaluated the vitamin C intake from both dietary and supplements for 46,994 men using a dietary questionnaire at four year intervals between 1986 and 2006. During 20 years of follow-up, 1,317 cases of gout were documented. The researchers calculated that, compared with men who had a vitamin C intake of less than 250 milligrams per day, men with a vitamin C intake between 500 to 999 mg the risk of gout decreased by 17%, men with intakes between 1,000 to 1,499 mg the risk of gout decreased by 34%, and for men with intakes over 1,500 mg the risk of gout was decreased by 45%.  

Commenting on how the vitamin may be protecting against gout, the researchers noted that vitamin C may reduce levels of uric acid in the blood, thereby preventing the formation of the urate crystal. This may be achieved by vitamin C having an effect on the reabsorption of uric acid by the kidneys. This would increase the speed at which the kidneys work to remove uric acid or protect against inflammation, all of which may reduce gout risk, they added. “These prospective data indicate that vitamin C intake is strongly associated with a lower risk of gout,” wrote the researchers. “Increasing vitamin C intake may be beneficial in the prevention of gout,” they concluded. The study is published in the March 9th, 2009 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine..