Vitamin C for osteoporosis ?

Considering the difficult side effects of the biophosphonates, one might think in terms of alternate therapies. One promising approach is using Vitamin C which is known to be an anti-oxidant. It is said that the process of bone loss through osteoclasts is accelerated due to the oxidation processes in the body, and that anti-oxidants could possibly slow down the bone loss. Vitamin C is an antioxidant. And people say that it could be a promising alternative to biophosphonates. I dont know how far this is correct, but I have started 500 mg of Vitamin C daily. Would anyone else on NOF have had any experience with Vitamin C for osteoporosis? It is said that full research has not been done on this topic yet--but results have been promising.

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Hi nathji,

I can only speak for myself. For many years I took very high doses of Vit. C daily. Sometimes as much as 10,000 - 12,000 mg daily. At that dose, I never even reached bowel tolerance. It really helped me to cope with some health problems. But it evidently did nothing for my bones as far as I can tell, judging by my dexa scan results.

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Thank you for your prompt response, which certainly calls for some re-thinking on the role of Vitamin C. I took mega doses myself many years ago when I was inspired by Prof Linus Pauling's theory-- but I believe that this theory was given up in later years as the effects of Vit C on cold prevention were not as great as expected. I had been giving mega doses to my father when he had prostate cancer, and also to my aunt who had breast cancer--with indifferent results both times.

I recall how a visiting American doctor in Mussoorie, India, in the Himalayas, where I live, prescribed Vit C for my sister for osteoporosis.

Subsequently there were many websites that spoke on "Vit C in osteoporosis"--type this in Google Search.

www.spineuniverse.com/displayarticle.php/article1085.html - 32k -

www.webmd.com/osteoporosis/news/20080919/vitamin-c-good-bones - 113k -

But after your experience, I dont know what to expect. Maybe Vit D, sunshine and Calcium all must be taken together in proper doses along with Vit C before it can have any desirable effects.

It would be wonderful if they could do more research on this as it would give an easy treatment as well as a relief from the jarring side effects of biophosphonates and the numerous controversies that still exit about their use.

I believe you should also post your experiences with it, on the web, so that people would get first hand information.

Thank you for telling me -- now I wont rush to get that large packet of Vit C I had been thinking of purchasing just now for osteoporosis! Maybe more research is still needed..

Yours,
Priya

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Dear reversible cat,

I am giving a link to a recent article written by Dr. Neil Gonter MD who is a bone specialist which specifically deals with Vit D and osteoposoris. Since it is from an expert in the field you might wish to read it. I found it very illumining:

http://www.healthcentral.com/osteoporosis/c/73/52752/vitamin

I wish all NOF members would read this as it could have a bearing on the future of osteopororis..

Yours,
Priya

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After taking Fasamax for many years and my dexa scan getting worse every year, my doc gave me Forteo, I took, it did not work. So last year my doc found out that my Vit D level was very low , and you know that calcium is absorbed through Vit. D. So he told me to take 1.000 units of vitamin D3 and since then I am ok, dont have those pains I had and it seems to be working fine. I just take Vit D3 1.000 units daily and calcium 1.500 mg. But it has to be vit D3 and not just vit D.

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Hi Nancy08:

Your post brings up two important disturbing trends.

1. Patients take medication BEFORE they check the basics like vitamin D levels. Medications can only work in a favorable environment, i.e. a healthy body

2. Hanging your hat on any single therapy (like Vitamin C or any vitamin by itself) is not going to have much effect on osteoporosis. Vitamin C is a natural anti-inflammatory and should help with calcium loss from bones combined with other lifestyle changes.

You are right about vitamin D. Normal blood levels of vitamin D are important for everyone but especially if you have osteopenia or osteoporosis. Sun exposure is the ideal way to make vitamin D but it takes full body exposure for 15 to 20 minutes and it’s unlikely you’ll get enough in northern latitude states that way.

If your test results are low, this should be confirmed by a 25-hydroxyvitamin D test, supplementation is probably going to be necessary. Research has shown that 1000 IU is generally not enough to raise or maintain healthy vitamin D levels.

Dr. Cannel makes a recommendation of 5000 IU daily for those who blood levels are deficient. Sometimes it is easier to have your doctor give you several larger vitamin D shots to boost levels quickly. D3 supplements are more biologically active in your body and respond more quickly.

The very best website I have found on the subject is Dr. Cannel’s at http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/.

Vitamin D alone is only one part of the bone building recipe. There are several areas I am interested in when someone comes to me looking for answers. These tend to be overlooked by many people when trying to increase bone density. I call these
“The Big 5 for Healthy Bone:”

1. A diet that contains 50% fruits and vegetables. Fruits and veggies contain greater amounts of water and minerals with generally lesser amounts of animal protein.
2. Adequate water intake based on body weight. Water is very important in helping the kidneys regulate pH and detoxify the body.
3. Stress reduction activities to help lower cortisol, homocysteine and total body inflammation to reduce calcium loss.
4. Vitamin D3 levels in the 50–80 ng/mL (or 125–200 nM/L) year around confirmed by 25-hydroxyvitamin D testing.
5. Sufficient weight bearing exercise that includes balance training to reduce falls and stimulate muscle growth which is essential for bone strengthening determined by regular full body strength testing.

Hope this helps.

Woody McMahon
Reston/Herndon Osteoporosis Support Group Leader

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Hi SequoiaHeealth

Thank you for for the very knowlegeable insight. As a matter of fact my doc first put me on a 5.ooo units of Vit. d3 for 21 days, re-tested my levels of Vitd which went from 6 to 26 and he told me to start on 1.000 units of D3 daily plus calcium. I think he hit a home run!!I am thinking after listening to a radio program by a doc, he suggests 2.000 units of D3 is also good. I might try that.

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A level of 100 for vit D is considered better.

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Hi Nancy08:
26 is still too low. If you look at the recommendations on Dr. Cannel’s site you see he uses these reference ranges. This is from his site:

• take 5,000 IU per day for three months, then obtain a 25-hydroxyvitamin D test. Adjust your dosage so that blood levels are between 50–80 ng/mL (or 125–200 nM/L) year-round.

Hope this helps.

Woody McMahon
Reston/Herndon Osteoporosis Support Group Leader

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Hi Priya:
Please note that the amounts of vitamin C are very small in this study; less than 500 mg a day.

Excerpt from the study:
"The effect became most significant at the highest level, about 314 milligrams of vitamin C daily from supplements and food. The recommended intake is 75 milligrams daily for women and 90 milligrams daily for men."

Hope this helps.

Woody McMahon
Reston/Herndon Osteoporosis Support Group Leader

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Dear SequoiaHealth,

Thanks for the valuable information. Is it all right if I take 500 mg daily, since it does not seem to do any harm. And if 314 mg was useful for osteoporosis, 500 mg might also be so. It is said that the Vit C helps men more than women, I wonder whether this has been researched further?


It would be a wonderful panacea for many who are afraid of biophosphonates. Here is a treatment with practically no side effects with Vit C.

I certainly hope they make a breakthrough in this field. If they do please do let us know!

Thanking you again,

Yours

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If you search on www.pubmed.gov, many of the studies you will find are not particularly encouraging regarding any bone-building effect of Vitamin C. For example http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16155271 "Lack of a relation between vitamin and mineral antioxidants and bone mineral density: results from the Women's Health Initiative" studied 11,000 women for the BMD effect of vitamin A, retinol, beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, and selenium. The only beneficial effect of Vitamin C on BMD was in women who were also taking hormone therapy.

Another study, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12730762 "Effects of dietary nutrients and food groups on bone loss from the proximal femur in men and women in the 7th and 8th decades of age" found that women with low Vitamin C lost BMD faster, but women with higher levels still lost BMD. That study also found (contrary to what many people here recommend) "There was no effect of fruits and vegetables, combined or separately, on rate of BMD loss." But the study did find a very positive effect from exercise "for every ten trips made per day climbing a flight of stairs, BMD increased at a rate of 0.22% "

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Dear PikaB,

Thanks for letting us know. You are right. It is better not to live on false hopes if these websites give the correct picture for Vit C!

On the other hand have you also seen the sites below--which are reliable sources like spine-universe and webmd-- these, on the other hand, give a very positive finding for Vit C's role in osteoporosis:

www.spineuniverse.com/displayarticle.php/article1085.html - 32k -

www.webmd.com/osteoporosis/news/20080919/vitamin-c-good-bones -

www.webmd.com/news/20010208/drink-your-orange-juice----its-good-for-your-bo nes

Walking up stairs is easy for most of us--and the 0.22% rate of increase of BMD is somewhat encouraging! Actually the first time I read your note, I read 22% by mistake, and jumped at the prospect!! until I saw the decimal point!! Scientific studies can be such "spoil-sports" at times!!

But there are many people here who live on the ground floor and they dont have any stairs in their homes. Maybe they will have to visit supermarkets or their friends homes to walk on stairs as a medication.
It would be interesting my going into my friend's large home and saying :"Mind if I climb up and down your stairs ?--doctor's orders!" (lol)

Instead I will try walking up and down gentle hill slopes where I live-- if that will have the same effects, although there is the added danger of slipping and falling especially when the ground is slippery. This risk could also exist on stairs especially when they say that people with osteoporosis have poor balance---is that a fact?

Thanks for your kind attention and responses, they are very enlightening and educative.

Yours,
Priya

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Dear nathji:

You are correct that vitamin C supplementation is a very smart idea. I personally maximize the benefit from vitamin C supplementation by sprinkling a very small amount of vitamin C powder (sold as vitamin C "crystals" by the mail order vitamin pill catalog "Puritan's Pride") into my Crystal Light diet drink which I buy at Costco Wholesale and drink around the clock every day. However, I don't do this to prevent osteoporosis. I do this to prevent the cancer-causing nitrosamines in many of the foods we eat from triggering stomach cancer and esophageal cancer in me. Caution: Don't add vitamin C to soft drinks that contain sodium benzoate or potassium benzoate. The cancer-causing chemical, benzene, will be created by the interaction of ascorbic acid and sodium and/or potassium benzoate. PikaB is correct that there is very little on vitamin C preventing osteoporosis. However, there are hundreds of scientific studies that indicate beyond any doubt that people who consume lots of fruits and vegetables (and not too much animal meat) have better bone densities and lower bone fracture risks. The Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University doesn't say anything about vitamin C lowering our risk of osteoporosis: http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/vitamins/vitaminC/

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Dear rmchavin,

Many thanks for the clarification. If the Linus Pauling Institute does not recommend Vit C for osteoporosis then we have got nothing to go on. I agree with you that Vit C does have other benefits, which is why you have been taking them so consistently. It would have been a wonderful thing if it did affect osteoporosis as it would save us from the biophosponates. Thank you all the same! Please remain in touch.
Yours,
Priya
(nathji)

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