Can Vitamin C Supplements Help with Lead Poisoning?

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“Even when a dietary manipulation is confirmed efficient in reducing blood lead ranges, reliance on such an intervention locations a lot of the burden for prevention on these most affected and least answerable for the underlying environmental causes of lead toxicity. Dietary interventions, subsequently, must not ever substitute for efforts to cut back lead publicity to secure ranges. However, when used as an adjunct to environmental measures, some dietary modifications could show to have advantages past any affect on lead toxicity.” For instance, consumption of vitamin C-rich meals could assist with “blood stress, blood lipid profiles, and respiratory signs,” along with maybe influencing “lead toxicity via an affect on absorption of lead, elimination of lead, transport throughout the physique, tissue binding, or secondary mechanisms of toxicity,” that’s, even simply serving to ameliorate a few of the injury. However what is that this based mostly on?

In 1939, a outstanding research was revealed, entitled “Vitamin C therapy in lead poisoning,” wherein 17 lead business staff have been given 100 mg of vitamin C a day, the quantity present in one or two oranges, and “with virtually all of them there was a marked acquire in vigor, shade of pores and skin, cheerfulness, blood image, urge for food and talent to sleep properly.” The 17 staff have been chosen as a result of they gave the impression to be in fairly unhealthy form and presumably even had scurvy, so it’s no surprise a bit vitamin C helped. However vitamin C is an antioxidant, and oxidation is “an essential mechanism underlying lead toxicity,” so it’s conceivable that it might have mediated a few of the hurt. However, the vitamin C didn’t seem to only reduce the injury from the lead—it additionally decreased the lead itself. As you’ll be able to see from 1:43 in my video Can Vitamin C Help with Lead Poisoning?, the quantity of lead in a painter’s urine over a interval of a month after beginning 200 mg of vitamin C a day exhibited a five-fold drop, suggesting he was absorbing much less of the lead into his physique. He was one among three painters researchers tried this on, and evidently all three painters’ ranges dropped. The researchers concluded that these “uncovered to guide…must be suggested to incorporate of their weight-reduction plan loads of such wealthy sources of vitamin C as tomatoes (contemporary or canned), uncooked cabbage, oranges or grapefruit, uncooked spinach (and even cooked, in little or no water), uncooked turnips, inexperienced bell peppers, cantaloupe, and so forth.”

Now, this drop in lead within the topics’ urine was seen with solely three painters, and the research didn’t have a management group of painters who didn’t take vitamin C, so maybe everybody’s lead ranges would have dropped for another purpose or maybe it was only a coincidence. You don’t know…till you place it to the take a look at.

These unique knowledge have been so compelling that others have been impressed to attempt to replicate them. I imply, if it really labored, if vitamin C might assist with lead poisoning, grapefruits may very well be handed out on the manufacturing facility door! The sooner research didn’t have an excellent management group, however the researchers weren’t going to make that very same mistake this time. On this research, half of the group acquired 100 mg of vitamin C a day—not only for a month however for a 12 months—and the opposite group acquired nothing. The consequence? “Cautious research of a giant group of lead staff failed to disclose any impact of ascorbic acid vitamin C…on the lead focus within the blood…or urine” (emphasis added). There was no distinction of their bodily situation and no modifications of their blood work, so “no purpose has been discovered for recommending using ascorbic acid vitamin C to attenuate results of lead absorption.” What a disappointment. It regarded so promising!

At any time when I research a subject, I attempt to learn the analysis chronologically so I can expertise the discoveries as they occurred all through historical past. At this level, although, I used to be so tempted to leap to a current evaluation to see what had occurred within the intervening 74 years since that first research was published, however I didn’t wish to spoiler alert! myself, so I stored studying the papers sequentially. There have been in vitro research the place researchers dripped antioxidants on lead uncovered cells and it appeared to assist, so that they jumped on the cantaloupe bandwagon, too, however these have been take a look at tube research.

The primary inhabitants research was revealed in 1999, and, as you’ll be able to see at 4:02 in my video, researchers did find that these with excessive vitamin C ranges of their blood tended to have decrease lead ranges. Youths with the best vitamin C ranges had a virtually 90 % decrease prevalence of elevated blood lead ranges in comparison with these with the bottom vitamin C ranges. Now, this was a cross-sectional research, only a snapshot in time, so we don’t know if the vitamin C triggered a drop in lead or if maybe the lead triggered a drop in vitamin C. Lead is a pro-oxidant, so possibly it ate up the vitamin C. And who has greater vitamin C ranges? Those that can afford to have greater vitamin C ranges and eat plenty of vegatables and fruits. “It is usually attainable that greater ascorbic acid ranges could represent more healthy life or larger socio-economic standing.” Certainly, possibly decrease vitamin C ranges are only a proxy for being poor, and that’s the true purpose for greater lead ranges.

There are many good causes to be consuming extra vegatables and fruits, and we must be consuming extra spinach regardless, however it might be good to know if vitamin C really helps with lead poisoning. And, to know that, we have to put it to the take a look at.

Sadly, a lot of the revealed interventions are not very useful, with such titles as “Results of dietary vitamin C supplementation on lead-treated sea cucumbers,….”  And, there is a shocking variety of articles on the results of vitamin C supplementation on mouse testicles. Why? As a result of lead could impair male fertility. Certainly, lead staff seem to have a decreased chance of fathering kids, however this may partly be because of oxidative stress. In that case, how about giving an antioxidant, like vitamin C, and placing it to the take a look at(es)? No, I’m not talking about rat testes or suggesting frog testes. Neither am I proposing crab testes. (I didn’t even know crabs had testicles!) Lastly, right here’s one to discuss: “Medical relevance of vitamin C amongst lead-exposed infertile males.” A research of human males, which I’ll cowl in Yellow Bell Peppers for Male Infertility and Lead Poisoning?.

I’m at all times conflicted about writing these sorts of blogs and producing movies like Can Vitamin C Help with Lead Poisoning?. I can think about some simply need “the reply,” however these with vested and industrial pursuits usually exploit that pure impulse. That is drawback with science normally, however maybe significantly in vitamin. With regards to one thing as life-or-death essential as what to feed ourselves and our households we shouldn’t simply observe somebody’s opinions or beliefs on the matter. We must always demand to see the science. That’s what I attempt to do: Current the accessible knowledge as pretty and even-handedly as attainable, and allow you to make up your personal thoughts. You’ll be able to think about how simply somebody might cherry-pick only one or two research and current a distorted however compelling case for or towards, on this case, vitamin C dietary supplements. That’s why I really feel it’s essential to current every research of their historic context. Keep tuned for the thrilling conclusion in Yellow Bell Peppers for Male Infertility & Lead Poisoning?.


 For these of you who’re pondering, Why ought to I care about lead? I don’t eat paint chips or use leaded gasoline. Anyway, what’s the massive deal?, take a look at my full collection of lead movies for info on how we acquired into this mess and a few of the methods we are able to dig ourselves out:

In well being,

Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: Should you haven’t but, you’ll be able to subscribe to my free movies here and watch my stay shows:



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