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Vitamin C reduces level of C-reactive protein, finds UC Berkeley-led study

Berkeley - 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 milligrams of vitamin C supplements per day saw a 24 percent drop in plasma C-reactive protein (CRP) levels after two months. The study, published in the April issue of the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, is the first time vitamin C has been shown to decrease levels of CRP, a biomarker that has garnered increasing attention among health researchers in recent years.

"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, UC Berkeley professor of epidemiology and public health nutrition and 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. The body triggers the production of inflammatory cytokines, such as interleukin-6, that then set off the production of CRP by the liver.

"CRP levels can go up 100-fold within a short period of time as a reaction to an infection, but they then drop back down rapidly after the acute infection passes," said Christopher Jensen, a research scientist in Block's lab and co-author of the paper.

"It's not clear how vitamin C was able to lower CRP levels for people in this study," said Jensen. "One possibility is that vitamin C may be suppressing the production of cytokines, but that needs to be investigated in future studies."

The researchers say that long-term adverse health effects occur when inflammation persists at low levels. This chronic inflammation,
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Contact: Sarah Yang
scy@pa.urel.berkeley.edu
510-643-7741
University of California - Berkeley
12-Apr-2004


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