Vitamin c successfully forms a part of the supplementation plan for many people suffering from arthritis.
There is a lot of evidence from many sources proving that supplementing with vitamin c can benefit diseases involving inflammation. It is also known that vitamin c plays a role in collagen synthesis, the main protein that is found in the joints of the body. Collagen is the main component of tendons, ligaments, cartilage and many other structures of the body. Healthy collagen means healthy joints.
Does vitamin c supplementation benefit patients with rheumatoid arthritis?
Vitamin c has been found to be low in rheumatoid arthritis sufferers. This is because vitamin c is an anti-oxidant which is used up to detoxify free radicals- something you find in abundance in inflammatory diseases.
A large study conducted between 1993 and 1997 involving 23000 men and women showed some benefit in taking higher amounts of vitamin c through your diet. During the study, which was actually meant to study cancer, the participants had to keep track of what they ate in a diary.
During this period, 73 of the participants developed symptoms that were related to rheumatoid arthritis. Compared to the other participants, the ones who developed rheumatoid arthritis, actually consumed less fruit and vegetables in their daily diets. Of course, fruit and vegetables contain a lot of vitamin c. The participants that ate the least amount of fruit and vegetables had about double the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.
How does it work? As we have noted, vitamin c is a major factor in the collagen synthesis, which is the main protein in joint tissue. Remember also, that rheumatoid arthritis is caused by an overreaction by the immune system. Some sources say that vitamin c has a calming effect on the immune system, acting on specific molecules (tenascin-C molecules) that causes and sustains inflammation in the joints.
But, vitamin c is a powerful anti-oxidant and therefore has a role to play in treating cardiovascular disease and rheumatoid arthritis, because these diseases are affected by free radicals and enzymes causing inflammation. Free radicals are found in the synovial fluids of inflamed joints, which suggest that free radicals are involved with the inflammation of the joint. Also, low levels of all the anti-oxidants are found in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Indirectly then, the suggestion is therefore that patients with rheumatoid arthritis can benefit from increased amounts of anti-oxidants like vitamin c in their diets.
How much do you need? If you suffer from an inflammatory disease, doses can be anything from 3-10g per day. That is a lot of vitamin c compared to typical recommended daily allowances.