Can Vitamin C Be Used to Treat Gout?

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

Why is reducing uric acid in the blood good for gout?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), gout is caused by too much uric acid in the body. For this reason, anything that can reduce the amount of uric acid in your body should have a positive impact on gout.

Does vitamin C reduce uric acid?

Although more research is needed, a number of studies indicate vitamin C may help reduce uric acid in the blood, which could protect against gout flares.

  • A study of almost 47,000 men over a 20-year period found that those taking a vitamin C supplement had a 44 percent lower gout risk.
  • A 2008 study of almost 1,400 men indicated that significantly lower blood levels of uric acid were found in the men who consumed the most vitamin C as compared to those who consumed the least.
  • A 2011 meta-analysis of 13 different studies found that a 30-day period of taking a vitamin C supplement considerably reduced blood uric acid, compared with a control placebo with no therapeutic effect.
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The Mayo Clinic suggests that although vitamin C supplements may reduce the levels of uric acid in your blood, no studies have demonstrated that the severity or frequency of gout flares are affected by vitamin C.

Gout and diet

According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, your risk of gout flares can be reduced by limiting your intake of foods high in purines, such as:

  • red meat: beef, pork, and lamb
  • seafood: shellfish, tuna, and sardines
  • organ/ glandular meats: kidney, sweetbreads, and liver

Along with avoiding high purine content foods, consider foods high in vitamin C which include fruits and vegetables, such as:

  • broccoli
  • brussels sprouts
  • cabbage
  • cantaloupe
  • cauliflower
  • grapefruit
  • kiwifruit
  • oranges
  • red and green peppers
  • strawberries

In addition to adding vitamin C to your diet, the CDC suggests that the consumption of both coffee and cherries are associated with reduced risk of gout flares.

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The CDC also recommends limiting your intake of:

    beer
  • distilled liquors
  • sugary foods and beverages

What is gout?

Gout is a type of inflammatory arthritis that, according to the National Kidney Foundation, affects 8.3 million adults (6.1 million men, 2.2 million women), 3.9 percent of which are U.S. adults.

Gout is caused by hyperuricemia. Hyperuricemia is a condition where there’s too much uric acid in your body.

When your body breaks down purines, it makes uric acid. Purines are present in your body and found in the foods you eat. Too much uric acid in your body can result in the formation of uric acid crystals (monosodium urate) which can build up in your joints and cause discomfort.

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People with gout may experience painful flares (times when the symptoms worsen) and remission (periods when there are virtually no symptoms).

  • Gout flares are typically sudden and can last days or weeks.
  • Gout remission can last for weeks, months, or even years.

At present, there’s no cure for gout, but it can be treated with self-management strategies and medication.

Takeaway

Hyperuricemia, a condition where there’s too much uric acid in your body, is considered to be the cause of gout.

Studies suggest that vitamin C may reduce the levels of uric acid in your blood, and thus be of benefit to people diagnosed with gout. No studies, however, have shown that vitamin C affects the severity or frequency of gout flares.

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If you’ve been diagnosed with gout, talk with a doctor about managing the condition and lowering your risk of gout flares. Along with medication, a doctor may recommend dietary changes that include reducing your consumption of purine- rich foods and increasing your intake of vitamin C.

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