Ascorbic acid, better known as vitamin C, has many benefits but they do not seem to include meaningful relief for gout patients. This is the conclusion drawn by a research team from the University of Otago in Christchurch, New Zealand, whose study has revealed that modest doses of vitamin C do not bring down uric acid (urate) levels in gout sufferers. Further studies are warranted to investigate the possibility of success with larger doses, according to Professor Lisa Stamp, lead author of the report.
Gout is an inflammatory arthritis resulting in agonizing pain and swelling. It is caused by uric acid crystallising in the joints. Long-term management involves taking medications that reduce urate levels by hindering uric acid production or increasing uric acid excretion through the kidneys. Previous studies have established that vitamin C lowers urate levels in people without gout but with hyperuricemia (elevated levels of uric acid).
But while vitamin C may decrease the risk of developing gout, the New Zealand team has not found any evidence that vitamin C supplementation works in the case of people afflicted with the condition. Professor Stamp and her colleagues studied 40 gout patients, half of whom were already taking medication for lowering urate levels. A daily vitamin C dose of 500mg was included in the treatment of some, and others had their medication dosage increased. The remaining 20 patients were started on the same vitamin dose or on medication. The study lasted for eight weeks and the final analysis showed that vitamin C supplementation had not produced a clinically significant reduction in urate levels. In fact, the research team established that reduction was greater in the subjects who had started taking medication or increased the dosage compared to patients who had been given vitamin C.