Vitamin C Lowers Gout Risk in Men

You may have heard of gout, a chronic, common form of arthritis. Gout occurs when there's a buildup of uric acid in the blood, causing urate crystals to form and lodge in a joint. Uric acid production is normal, and happens when your body breaks down purines, substances found in organ meats such as liver as well as other foods such as dried beans, asparagus and mushrooms. Eating too much of these foods can cause an excess of uric acid in your system, but excess uric acid can also occur naturally in the body and translate into gout.

Although anyone can get gout, it hits men disproportionately. And it is highly unpleasant: Gout is extremely painful, and an attack can come on suddenly. It typically attacks the big toe joint, but can also target the ankles, heels, knees, wrists, fingers, and elbows. People have been known to wake in the middle of the night in intense discomfort.

But rather than resign yourself to regular flare-ups, you may be able to do something about gout. Scientists now think they have the key to preventing or controlling this disease. The miracle remedy? Vitamin C. Over a 20-year period, doctors at the University of British Columbia tracked almost 47,000 men and asked them about their diets, particularly their Vitamin C consumption via food and supplements. They also were asked whether they had been diagnosed with gout or were experiencing symptoms of gout. Over the course of the study, more than 1,300 men did develop gout. However, the researchers noted the more Vitamin C that men got in their diets, the lower their risk of gout appeared to be. Compared with men who had the lowest intake, 250 milligrams a day or less, the risk of developing gout was 17 percent lower for those who ingested 500 to 999 milligrams a day, 34 percent lower for those who ingested 1,000 to 1,499 milligrams a day, and 45 percent lower for men who ingested at least 1,500 milligrams a day.

Why does Vitamin C lower gout risk? The scientists claim that this nutrient may reduce the level of uric acid in the blood in several ways--by enabling excess uric acid to be reabsorbed by the kidneys, by speeding up kidney function, or by protecting against inflammation. So if you have gout or are concerned about getting gout, bulk up your diet with Vitamin C-rich foods such as oranges and grapefruits, and pop a Vitamin C supplement also. It can't hurt, and it might help greatly.

Choi, H K, Gao X, Curhan G. Vitamin C Intake and the Risk of Gout in Men. Archives of Internal Medicine. March 9, 2009. 169(5):502-507

National Institutes of Health,