Researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine have shown that vitamin C actively protects against osteoporosis in an animal model. Osteoporosis is a global public health problem currently affecting more than 200 million people worldwide. In the United States alone, 10 million people have osteoporosis, and 18 million more are at risk of developing the disease. With the disease, bones become weak and brittle and ultimately break easily. Another 34 million Americans are at risk of osteopenia, or low bone mass, which can lead to fractures and other complications. The world has known for some time how important vitamin C is in preventing scurvy and as an powerful antioxidant. However, a recent study shows that higher levels of vitamin C intake can help bone mass. This study showed that large doses of vitamin C in mice stimulated bone formation to protect the skeleton. In mice who were not given vitamin C, they had a much lower bone mineral density (BMD) versus controls, whereas mice who received large doses of vitamin C, had roughly the same bone density as the controls, suggesting vitamin C prevented bone loss in this group. Risk factors associated with osteoporosis include:
  • Insufficient calcium intake
  • Vitamin D deficiency
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Family history of fractures
Current prevention and even treatment of osteoporosis includes 1) Calcium supplementation 2) Vitamin D supplementation along with 3) Weight-bearing exercise along with medications. Additional research is needed to discover if Vitamin C may help prevent osteoporosis in humans and may open up a whole new avenue of affordable treatment.  Yours in good health, Linda Hlivka Clinical Nutritionist