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Complementary Medicine - Cam

Vitamin C

Vitamin C

Uses

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that has a number of biological functions.

What Are Star Ratings?

Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.

For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.

3 Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.

2 Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.

1 Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.

This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:

Used for Why
3 Stars
Athletic Performance and Reducing Pain and Speeding Muscle Strength Recovery after Intense Exercise
400 mg daily for several days before and after intense exercise
Taking vitamin C for several days before and after intense exercise may reduce pain and speed muscle strength recovery.

Most research has demonstrated that strenuous exercise increases production of harmful substances called free radicals , which can damage muscle tissue and result in inflammation and muscle soreness. Exercising in cities or smoggy areas also increases exposure to free radicals. Antioxidants , including vitamin C and vitamin E , neutralize free radicals before they can damage the body, so antioxidants may aid in exercise recovery. Regular exercise increases the efficiency of the antioxidant defense system, potentially reducing the amount of supplemental antioxidants that might otherwise be needed for protection. However, at least theoretically, supplements of antioxidant vitamins may be beneficial for older or untrained people or athletes who are undertaking an especially vigorous training protocol or athletic event.1 , 2

Placebo-controlled research, some of it double-blind, has shown that taking 400 to 3,000 mg of vitamin C per day for several days before and after intense exercise may reduce pain and speed up muscle strength recovery.3 , 4 , 5 However, taking vitamin C only after such exercise was not effective in another double-blind study.6 While some research has reported that vitamin E supplementation in the amount of 800 to 1,200 IU per day reduces biochemical measures of free radical activity and muscle damage caused by strenuous exercise,7 , 8 , 9 several studies have not found such benefits,10 , 11 , 12 , 13 and no research has investigated the effect of vitamin E on performance-related measures of strenuous exercise recovery. A combination of 90 mg per day of coenzyme Q10 and a very small amount of vitamin E did not produce any protective effects for marathon runners in one double-blind trial,14 while in another double-blind trial a combination of 50 mg per day of zinc and 3 mg per day of copper significantly reduced evidence of post-exercise free radical activity.15

In most well-controlled studies, exercise performance has not been shown to improve following supplementation with vitamin C, unless a deficiency exists, as might occur in athletes with unhealthy or irrational eating patterns.16 , 17 Similarly, vitamin E has not benefited exercise performance, 18 , 19 except possibly at high altitudes. 20 , 21

3 Stars
Bronchitis
200 mg daily
In a double-blind study of elderly patients hospitalized with acute bronchitis, those given vitamin C improved to a significantly greater extent than those who were given a placebo.

In a double-blind study of elderly patients hospitalized with acute bronchitis, those who were given 200 mg per day of vitamin C improved to a significantly greater extent than those who were given a placebo.22 The common cold may lead to bronchitis in susceptible people, and numerous controlled studies, some double-blind, have shown that vitamin C supplements can decrease the severity and duration of the common cold in otherwise healthy people.23

Vitamin C and vitamin E may prevent oxidative damage to the lung lipids by environmental pollution and cigarette smoke exposure. It has been suggested that amounts in excess of the RDA (recommended dietary allowance) are necessary to protect against the air pollution levels currently present in North America,24 although it is not known how much vitamin E is needed to produce that protective effect.

3 Stars
Bruising
400 to 800 mg daily, with flavonoids
Vitamin C supplements have been shown to reduce bruising in people with low vitamin C intake.

Doctors often suggest that people who experience easy bruising supplement with 100 mg to 3 grams of vitamin C per day for several months. Controlled research is limited, but vitamin C supplements have been shown to reduce bruising in people with low vitamin C intake.25 Flavonoids are often recommended along with vitamin C. Flavonoids are vitamin-like substances that can help strengthen capillaries and therefore may also help with bruising.26 Flavonoids may also increase the effectiveness of vitamin C; citrus flavonoids, in particular, improve the absorption of vitamin C. Older preliminary research suggested that vitamin C, 400–800 mg per day, in combination with 400–800 mg per day of the flavonoid, hesperidin, reduced bruising in menopausal women.27 A small, preliminary trial in Germany gave three people with progressive pigmented purpura (a chronic bruising disorder) 1,000 mg per day of vitamin C and 100 mg per day of the flavonoid rutoside. After four weeks, noticeable bruising was no longer apparent and did not recur in the three month period after treatment was stopped.28 Controlled research is needed to better establish whether vitamin C and flavonoids are effective for easy bruising.

3 Stars
Capillary Fragility
Treat deficiency with up to 1 gram daily
In cases of deficiency, vitamin C has been shown to increase capillary strength, in seniors and people with diabetes in particular.

Severe vitamin C deficiency (scurvy) is a well-recognized but uncommon cause of increased capillary fragility. Whether vitamin C supplementation can help capillary fragility in people who do not have scurvy is less clear. Patients undergoing dialysis may develop low levels of vitamin C,29 , 30 which can lead to capillary fragility, but giving dialysis patients 50 mg of vitamin C per day had no effect on capillary fragility in one study.31 People with kidney failure and those undergoing dialysis should not supplement with more than 100 mg per day, unless supervised by a doctor.

According to preliminary studies, vitamin C may reduce capillary weakness in diabetics , who often have low blood levels of vitamin C compared to non-diabetics.32 , 33 In a double-blind trial, elderly people with low vitamin C levels and capillary fragility were helped with supplementation of one gram per day of vitamin C.34

3 Stars
Common Cold and Sore Throat
1 to 4 grams daily
Studies have shown that taking vitamin C may make your cold shorter and less severe.

A review of 21 controlled trials using 1 to 8 grams of vitamin C per day found that “in each of the twenty-one studies, vitamin C reduced the duration of episodes and the severity of the symptoms of the common cold by an average of 23%.”35 The optimum amount of vitamin C to take for cold treatment remains in debate but may be as high as 1 to 3 grams per day, considerably more than the 120 to 200 mg per day that has been suggested as optimal intake for healthy adults. A review of 23 controlled trials found that vitamin C supplementation produces a greater benefit for children than for adults.36 The same review found that a daily amount of 2 grams or more was superior to a daily amount of 1 gram at reducing the duration of cold symptoms.

3 Stars
Gingivitis
300 mg daily
If you are deficient in vitamin C, supplementing with this vitamin may improve your overall gum health.

People who are deficient in vitamin C may be at increased risk for periodontal disease.37 When a group of people with periodontitis who normally consumed only 20–35 mg of vitamin C per day were given an additional 70 mg per day, objective improvement of periodontal tissue occurred in only six weeks.38 It makes sense for people who have a low vitamin C intake (e.g., people who eat few fruits and vegetables) to supplement with vitamin C in order to improve gingival health.

3 Stars
Glaucoma
At least 2 grams daily
Supplementing with vitamin C may help reduce intraocular pressure.

Several studies have shown that supplementing with vitamin C can significantly reduce elevated intraocular pressure in individuals with glaucoma.39 These studies used at least 2 grams per day of vitamin C; much larger amounts were sometimes given. Higher quantities of vitamin C appeared to be more effective than smaller amounts.

Doctors often suggest that people with glaucoma take vitamin C to “bowel tolerance.”40 The bowel-tolerance level is determined by progressively increasing vitamin C intake until loose stools or abdominal pain occurs, and then reducing the amount slightly, to a level that does not cause these symptoms. The bowel tolerance level varies considerably from person to person, usually ranging from about 5 to 20 or more grams per day. Vitamin C does not cure glaucoma and must be used continually to maintain a reduction in intraocular pressure.

3 Stars
High Cholesterol
1,000 mg daily
Vitamin C appears to protect LDL cholesterol from damage, and in some trials, cholesterol levels have fallen when people supplement with vitamin C.
Vitamin C appears to protect LDL cholesterol from damage.41 In some clinical trials, cholesterol levels have fallen when people with elevated cholesterol supplement with vitamin C.42 Some studies report that decreases in total cholesterol occur specifically in LDL cholesterol.43 Doctors sometimes recommend 1 gram per day of vitamin C. A review of the disparate research concerning vitamin C and heart disease , however, has suggested that most protection against heart disease from vitamin C, is likely to occur with as little as 100 mg per day.44
3 Stars
Infection
1 to 4 grams daily
Vitamin C has antiviral activity, and may help prevent viral infections or, in the case of the common cold, reduce the severity and duration of an infection.

Vitamin C has antiviral activity, and may help prevent viral infections45 or, in the case of the common cold , reduce the severity and duration of an infection.46 Most studies on the common cold used 1 to 4 grams of vitamin C per day.

3 Stars
Male Infertility and Sperm Agglutination
1,000 mg daily
Vitamin C protects sperm from oxidative damage and keeps sperm from sticking together.

Vitamin C protects sperm from oxidative damage.47 Supplementing vitamin C improves the quality of sperm in smokers.48 When sperm stick together (a condition called agglutination), fertility is reduced. Vitamin C reduces sperm agglutination,49 and supplementation with 200–1,000 mg per day increased the fertility of men with this condition in a controlled study.50 , 51 Many doctors recommend 1 gram of vitamin C per day for infertile men, particularly those diagnosed with sperm agglutination. However, a double-blind trial studying the effects of combined vitamin C and vitamin E supplementation found no improvements in semen quality among men with low sperm motility.52

3 Stars
Scurvy
Refer to label instructions
Although scurvy is uncommon in Western societies, many doctors believe that most people consume less than optimal amounts of vitamin C, especially smokers.
Although scurvy (severe vitamin C deficiency) is uncommon in Western societies, many doctors believe that most people consume less than optimal amounts. Fatigue, easy bruising, and bleeding gums are early signs of vitamin C deficiency that occur long before frank scurvy develops. Smokers have low levels of vitamin C and require a higher daily intake to maintain normal vitamin C levels.
3 Stars
Stress
1 to 3 grams daily
Studies have shown that supplementing with vitamin C helps to normalize stress-hormone levels.

Animal studies suggest that supplementing with vitamin C can reduce blood levels of stress-related hormones and other measures of stress.53 , 54 , 55 , 56 Controlled studies of athletes have shown that vitamin C supplementation (1,000 to 1,500 mg per day) can reduce stress hormone levels after intense exercise.57 , 58 Surgery patients given 2,000 mg per day of vitamin C during the week before and after surgery had a more rapid return to normal of several stress-related hormones compared with patients not given vitamin C.59 In a double-blind trial, young adults took 3,000 mg per day of vitamin C for two weeks, then were given a psychological stress test involving public speaking and mental arithmetic.60 Compared with a placebo group, those taking vitamin C rated themselves less stressed, scored better on an anxiety questionnaire, had smaller elevations of blood pressure, and returned sooner to lower levels of an adrenal stress hormone following the stress test.

3 Stars
Sunburn (Vitamin E)
2,000 to 3,000 mg vitamin C and 1,000 to 2,000 IU vitamin E
Antioxidants may protect the skin from sunburn due to free radical–producing ultraviolet rays. Combinations of vitamin E and C offer protection against ultraviolet rays.

Antioxidants may protect the skin from sunburn due to free radical –producing ultraviolet rays.61 Combinations of 1,000 to 2,000 IU per day of vitamin E and 2,000 to 3,000 mg per day of vitamin C , but neither given alone, have a significant protective effect against ultraviolet rays, according to double-blind studies.62 , 63 , 64

Oral synthetic beta-carotene alone was not found to provide effective protection when given in amounts of 15 mg per day or for only a few weeks’ time in larger amounts of 60 to 90 mg per day, but it has been effective either in very large (180 mg per day) amounts or in smaller amounts (30 mg per day) in combination with topical sunscreen.65 , 66 , 67 , 68 , 69

Natural sources of beta-carotene or other carotenoids have been more consistently shown to protect against sunburn. One controlled study found that taking a supplement of natural carotenoids (almost all of which was beta-carotene) in daily amounts of 30 mg, 60 mg, and 90 mg gave progressively more protection against ultraviolet rays.70 In another controlled study, either 24 mg per day of natural beta-carotene or 24 mg per day of a carotenoid combination of equal amounts beta-carotene, lutein , and lycopene helped protect skin from ultraviolet rays.71 A preliminary study compared synthetic lycopene (10.1 mg per day), a natural tomato extract containing 9.8 mg of lycopene per day plus additional amounts of other carotenoids, and a solubilized tomato drink (designed to increase lycopene absorption) containing 8.2 mg of lycopene plus additional amounts of other carotenoids. After 12 weeks, only the two tomato-based products were shown to give significant protection against burning by ultraviolet light.72

Still other trials have tested combinations of several antioxidants . One preliminary study found that a daily combination of beta-carotene (6 mg), lycopene (6 mg), vitamin E (15 IU), and selenium for seven weeks protected against ultraviolet light.73 However, a double-blind trial of a combination of smaller amounts of several carotenoids , vitamins C and E, selenium, and proanthocyanidins did not find significant UV protection compared with placebo.74 Similarly, in a controlled trial, a combination of selenium, copper , and vitamins was found to be ineffective.75

It should be noted that while oral protection from sunburn has been demonstrated with several types of antioxidants , the degree of protection (typically less than an SPF of 2) is much less than that provided by currently available topical sunscreens. On the other hand, these modest effects will provide some added protection to skin areas where sunscreen is also used and will give a small amount of protection to sun-exposed areas where sunscreen is not applied. However, oral protection from sunburn is not instantaneous; maximum effects are not reached until these antioxidants have been used for about eight to ten weeks.76 , 77

3 Stars
Wound Healing
1 to 3 grams daily
Taking vitamin C may promote connective tissue repair.

Vitamin C is needed to make collagen (connective tissue) that strengthens skin, muscles, and blood vessels and to ensure proper wound healing. Severe injury appears to increase vitamin C requirements,78 and vitamin C deficiency causes delayed healing.79 Preliminary human studies suggest that vitamin C supplementation in non-deficient people can speed healing of various types of wounds and trauma, including surgery, minor injuries, herniated intervertebral discs, and skin ulcers.80 , 81 A combination of 1–3 grams per day of vitamin C and 200–900 mg per day of pantothenic acid has produced minor improvements in the strength of healing skin tissue.82 , 83

2 Stars
Asthma
1,000 to 1,500 mg daily
Supplementing with vitamin C reduces the tendency of the bronchial passages to go into spasm, an action that has been confirmed in double-blind research.

Supplementation with 1 gram of vitamin C per day reduces the tendency of the bronchial passages to go into spasm,84 an action that has been confirmed in double-blind research.85 Beneficial effects of short-term vitamin C supplementation (i.e., less than three days) have been observed. In double-blind trials, supplementation with 1,000 to 1,500 mg of vitamin C per day for 2 to 14 days prevented attacks of exercise-induced asthma.86 , 87 Two other preliminary trials found that vitamin C supplementation reduced bronchial reactivity to metacholine, a drug that causes bronchial constriction.88 , 89 However, other studies,90 including two double-blind trials,91 , 92 have failed to corroborate these findings. The only double-blind trial of a long duration found that vitamin C supplementation (1 gram per day for 14 weeks) reduced the severity and frequency of attacks among Nigerian adults with asthma.93 A buffered form of vitamin C (such as sodium ascorbate or calcium ascorbate) may work better for some asthmatics than regular vitamin C (ascorbic acid).94

2 Stars
Atherosclerosis
250 mg twice per day
Supplementing with vitamin C may help reverse the progression of atherosclerosis and protect against heart disease.

Experimentally increasing homocysteine levels in humans has led to temporary dysfunction of the cells lining blood vessels. Researchers are concerned this dysfunction may be linked to atherosclerosis and heart disease. Vitamin C has been reported in one controlled study to reverse the dysfunction caused by increases in homocysteine.95 Vitamin C also protects LDL.96

Despite the protective mechanisms attributed to vitamin C, some research has been unable to link vitamin C intake to protection against heart disease . These negative trials have mostly been conducted using people who consume 90 mg of vitamin C per day or more—a level beyond which further protection of LDL may not occur. Studies of people who eat foods containing lower amounts of vitamin C have been able to show a link between dietary vitamin C and protection from heart disease. Therefore, leading vitamin C researchers have begun to suggest that vitamin C may be important in preventing heart disease, but only up to 100–200 mg of intake per day.97 In a double-blind trial,98 supplementation with 250 mg of timed-release vitamin C twice daily for three years resulted in a 15% reduction in the progression of atherosclerosis, compared with placebo. Many doctors suggest that people take vitamin C—often 1 gram per day—despite the fact that research does not yet support levels higher than 500 mg per day.

2 Stars
Athletic Performance and Vitamin C Deficiency
If deficient: 100 to 200 mg daily
Antioxidants, including vitamin C, neutralize exercise-related free radicals before they can damage the body, so antioxidants may aid in exercise recovery. Especially in cases of vitamin C deficiency, supplementing with the vitamin may improve exercise performance.

Most research has demonstrated that strenuous exercise increases production of harmful substances called free radicals , which can damage muscle tissue and result in inflammation and muscle soreness. Exercising in cities or smoggy areas also increases exposure to free radicals. Antioxidants , including vitamin C and vitamin E , neutralize free radicals before they can damage the body, so antioxidants may aid in exercise recovery. Regular exercise increases the efficiency of the antioxidant defense system, potentially reducing the amount of supplemental antioxidants that might otherwise be needed for protection. However, at least theoretically, supplements of antioxidant vitamins may be beneficial for older or untrained people or athletes who are undertaking an especially vigorous training protocol or athletic event.99 , 100

Placebo-controlled research, some of it double-blind, has shown that taking 400 to 3,000 mg of vitamin C per day for several days before and after intense exercise may reduce pain and speed up muscle strength recovery.101 , 102 , 103 However, taking vitamin C only after such exercise was not effective in another double-blind study.104 While some research has reported that vitamin E supplementation in the amount of 800 to 1,200 IU per day reduces biochemical measures of free radical activity and muscle damage caused by strenuous exercise,105 , 106 , 107 several studies have not found such benefits,108 , 109 , 110 , 111 and no research has investigated the effect of vitamin E on performance-related measures of strenuous exercise recovery. A combination of 90 mg per day of coenzyme Q10 and a very small amount of vitamin E did not produce any protective effects for marathon runners in one double-blind trial,112 while in another double-blind trial a combination of 50 mg per day of zinc and 3 mg per day of copper significantly reduced evidence of post-exercise free radical activity.113

In most well-controlled studies, exercise performance has not been shown to improve following supplementation with vitamin C, unless a deficiency exists, as might occur in athletes with unhealthy or irrational eating patterns.114 , 115 Similarly, vitamin E has not benefited exercise performance, 116 , 117 except possibly at high altitudes. 118 , 119

2 Stars
Autism
1 gram per 20 lbs (9 kg) body weight per day
In one trial, autistic children given vitamin C had less severe symptoms than those taking placebo, possibly because vitamin C affects a hormone pathway typically disturbed in children with autism.

In one double-blind trial lasting ten weeks, autistic children given 1 gram vitamin C per day for each 20 pounds of body weight showed a reduction in symptom severity compared with placebo.120 The authors speculate that vitamin C may play a positive role because of its known effects on a hormone pathway typically disturbed in children with autism.

2 Stars
Cold Sores (Flavonoids)
200 mg with 200 mg flavonoids, three to five times daily
Vitamin C plus flavonoids may help speed cold sore healing.

Vitamin C has been shown to inactivate herpes viruses in the test tube.121 In one study, people with herpes infections received either a placebo or 200 mg of vitamin C plus 200 mg of flavonoids , each taken three to five times per day. Compared with the placebo, vitamin C and flavonoids reduced the duration of symptoms by 57%.122

2 Stars
Depression
500 mg twice a day
In a double-blind study, the combination of vitamin C and an antidepressant drug (fluoxetine) was significantly more effective than the antidepressant alone.
In a double-blind study of Egyptian children with depression, the combination of vitamin C (500 mg twice a day) and an antidepressant drug (fluoxetine) was significantly more effective than fluoxetine alone.123
2 Stars
Dysmenorrhea (Rutin, Vitamin B3)
200 mg niacin daily, 300 mg vitamin C daily, and 60 mg rutin daily througout menstrual cycle; for cramps: 100 mg niacin every two to three hours
Supplementing with a combination of vitamin B3, vitamin C, and the flavonoid rutin resulted in a 90% effectiveness for relieving menstrual cramps in one study.
The niacin form of vitamin B3 has been reported to be effective in relieving menstrual cramps in 87% of a group of women taking 200 mg of niacin per day throughout the menstrual cycle.124 They then took 100 mg every two or three hours while experiencing menstrual cramps.125 In a follow-up study, this protocol was combined with 300 mg of vitamin C and 60 mg of the flavonoid rutin per day, which resulted in a 90% effectiveness for relieving menstrual cramps. Since these two preliminary studies were published many years ago, no further research has explored the relationship between niacin and dysmenorrhea. Niacin may not be effective unless taken for seven to ten days before the onset of menstrual flow.
2 Stars
Endometriosis (Vitamin E)
1,000 mg vitamin C and 1,200 IU vitamin E daily
A combination of vitamin C and vitamin E can help lessen the pain of endometriosis.
In a double-blind study of women with pelvic pain presumed to be due to endometriosis, supplementation with vitamin E (1,200 IU per day) and vitamin C (1,000 mg per day) for eight weeks resulted in an improvement of pain in 43% of women, whereas none of the women receiving a placebo reported pain relief.126
2 Stars
Female Infertility and Luteal Phase Defect
750 mg daily
Vitamin C has been shown to improve fertility in woman with a uterine condition known as luteal phase defect.

In some women, infertility is due to a hormonal abnormality known as luteal phase defect. In this condition, the uterine lining does not develop and mature properly, presumably because of a deficiency of the hormone progesterone. In a study of infertile women with luteal phase defect, supplementation with 750 mg of vitamin C per day for up to six months resulted in a pregnancy rate of 25%, compared with a rate of 11% in an untreated control group, a statistically significant difference.127

2 Stars
Gastritis
5 grams daily
Vitamin C may reduce free radical damage in the stomach lining in the case of gastritis caused by the bacteriaH. pylori.

When H. pylori causes gastritis, free radical levels rise in the stomach lining.128 These unstable molecules contribute to inflammation and damage to the stomach lining. Vitamin C , an antioxidant that helps quench free radical molecules, is low in the stomach juice of people with chronic gastritis. This deficiency may be the link between chronic gastritis and the increased risk of stomach cancer. When people with gastritis took 500 mg of vitamin C twice a day, vitamin C levels in their gastric juice rose, though not to normal levels.129 In another trial, vitamin C supplementation (5 grams per day divided into several doses for four weeks) appeared to eliminate H. pylori infection.130 While no direct evidence proves that taking vitamin C reduces gastritis symptoms, scientists widely believe that any agent capable of knocking out H. pylori should help people with this condition.

2 Stars
Gingivitis (Flavonoids)
300 mg of vitamin C, plus 300 mg of flavonoids daily
In one study, supplementing with vitamin C plus flavonoids improved gum health in a group of people with gingivitis.

People who are deficient in vitamin C may be at increased risk for periodontal disease.131 When a group of people with periodontitis who normally consumed only 20–35 mg of vitamin C per day were given an additional 70 mg per day, objective improvement of periodontal tissue occurred in only six weeks.132 It makes sense for people who have a low vitamin C intake (e.g., people who eat few fruits and vegetables) to supplement with vitamin C in order to improve gingival health.

For people who consume adequate amounts of vitamin C in their diet, several studies have found that supplemental vitamin C has no additional therapeutic effect. Research,133 including double-blind evidence,134 shows that vitamin C fails to significantly reduce gingival inflammation in people who are not vitamin C deficient. In one study, administration of vitamin C plus flavonoids (300 mg per day of each) did improve gingival health in a group of people with gingivitis;135 there was less improvement, however, when vitamin C was given without flavonoids. Preliminary evidence has suggested that flavonoids by themselves may reduce inflammation of the gums.136

2 Stars
Gout
0.5 to 8 grams daily
Supplementing with vitamin C might reduce the risk of gout attacks, as it appears to help reduce uric acid levels.

In one small study, people who took 4 grams of vitamin C (but not lower amounts) had an increase in urinary excretion of uric acid within a few hours, and those who took 8 grams of vitamin C per day for several days had a reduction in serum uric acid levels.137 Thus, supplemental vitamin C could, in theory, reduce the risk of gout attacks. However, the authors of this study warned that taking large amounts of vitamin C could also trigger an acute attack of gout by abruptly changing uric acid levels in the body. Another study showed that taking lower amounts of vitamin C (500 mg per day) for two months significantly reduced blood levels of uric acid, especially in people whose initial uric acid levels were elevated.138 For people with a history of gout attacks, it seems reasonable to begin vitamin C supplementation at 500 mg per day, and to increase the amount gradually if uric acid levels do not decrease.

2 Stars
Hypertension
Refer to label instructions
Some doctors recommend that people with hypertension supplement with vitamin C, which has been found to have a blood pressure–lowering effect.
In a pooled analysis of 29 randomized controlled trials, vitamin C supplementation, as compared with placebo, resulted in statistically significant reductions in systolic (average decrease, 3.84 mm Hg) and diastolic (average decrease, 1.48 mm Hg) blood pressure. Average blood pressure reductions in the studies that included only people with hypertension were 4.85 mm Hg for systolic and 1.67 mm Hg for diastolic blood pressure.139 Thus, vitamin C when given in moderate amounts (such as 500 mg per day), has a modest blood pressure-lowering effect, both in people with high blood pressure and in those with normal blood pressure.
2 Stars
Immune Function
Consult a qualified healthcare practitioner
Vitamin C stimulates the immune system. While taking it has only a small effect in preventing colds, it does significantly reduce the duration of a cold when taken at the onset.

Most,140 , 141 but not all,142 double-blind studies have shown that elderly people have better immune function and reduced infection rates when taking a multiple vitamin-mineral formula. In one double-blind trial, supplements of 100 mcg per day of selenium and 20 mg per day of zinc , with or without additional vitamin C , vitamin E , and beta-carotene , reduced infections in elderly people, though vitamins without minerals had no effect.143 Burn victims have also experienced fewer infections after receiving trace mineral supplements in double-blind research.144 These studies suggest that trace minerals may be the most important micronutrients for enhancing immunity and preventing infections in the elderly.

Vitamin C stimulates the immune system by both elevating interferon levels145 and enhancing the activity of certain immune cells.146 , 147 Two studies came to opposite conclusions about the ability of vitamin C to improve immune function in the elderly,148 , 149 and two other studies did not agree on whether vitamin C could protect people from hepatitis .150 , 151 However, a review of 20 double-blind studies concluded that while several grams of vitamin C per day has only a small effect in preventing colds , when taken at the onset of a cold, it does significantly reduce the duration of a cold.152 In controlled reports studying people doing heavy exercise, cold frequency was reduced an average of 50% with vitamin C supplements ranging from 600 to 1,000 mg per day.153 Thus, the overall effect of vitamin C on immune function is unclear, and its usefulness may vary according to the situation.

A combination of antioxidants vitamin A , vitamin C , and vitamin E significantly improved immune cell number and activity compared with placebo in a group of hospitalized elderly people.154 Daily intake of a 1,000 mg vitamin C plus 200 IU vitamin E for four months improved several measures of immune function in a preliminary study.155 To what extent immune-boosting combinations of antioxidants actually reduce the risk of infection remains unknown.

2 Stars
Influenza
100 mg daily
Supplementing with vitamin C may reduce your flu risk.

Dockworkers given 100 mg of vitamin C each day for ten months caught influenza 28% less often than did their coworkers not taking vitamin C. Of those who did develop the flu, the average duration of illness was 10% less in those taking vitamin C than in those not taking the vitamin.156 Other trials have reported that taking vitamin C in high amounts (2 grams every hour for 12 hours) can lead to rapid improvement of influenza infections .157 , 158 Such high amounts, however, should only be used under the supervision of a healthcare professional.

2 Stars
Pancreatic Insufficiency
540 mg daily
Taking antioxidant supplements, such as vitamin C, may lessen pain and prevent pancreatitis recurrences.
There are few controlled trials of antioxidant supplementation to patients with pancreatitis. One small controlled study of acute pancreatitis patients found that sodium selenite at a dose of 50 micrograms (mcg) daily resulted in decreased levels of a marker of free radical activity, and no patient deaths occurred.159 In a small double-blind trial including recurrent acute and chronic pancreatitis patients, supplements providing daily doses of 600 mcg selenium, 9,000 IU beta-carotene, 540 mg vitamin C, 270 IU vitamin E, and 2,000 mg methionine significantly reduced pain, normalized several blood measure of antioxidant levels and free radical activity, and prevented acute recurrences of pancreatitis.160 These researches later reported that continuing antioxidant treatment in these patients for up to five years or more significantly reduced the total number of days spent in the hospital and resulted in 78% of patients becoming pain-free and 88% returning to work.161
2 Stars
Parkinson’s Disease (Vitamin E)
3,000 mg of vitamin C and 3,200 IU of vitamin E
Supplementing with vitamins C and E may help people with early Parkinson’s disease delay the need for medication.

Some preliminary studies have indicated that high dietary intakes of antioxidant nutrients, especially vitamin E , are associated with a low risk of Parkinson’s disease,162 , 163 even though Parkinson’s patients are not deficient in vitamin E.164 , 165 The correlation between protection from Parkinson’s and dietary vitamin E may be not be due to the vitamin E itself, however. Legumes (beans and peas) contain relatively high amounts of vitamin E. Independent of their vitamin E content, consumption of legumes has been associated with low risk of Parkinson’s disease.166 In other words, high vitamin E intake may be a marker for diets high in legumes, and legumes may protect against Parkinson’s disease for reasons unrelated to their vitamin E content.

Interest in the relationship between antioxidants and Parkinson’s disease led to a preliminary trial using high amounts of vitamin C and vitamin E in early Parkinson’s disease167 and to a large ten-year controlled trial of high amounts of vitamin E combined with the drug deprenyl.168 In the trial combining vitamins C and E, people with early Parkinson’s disease given 750 mg of vitamin C and 800 IU of vitamin E four times each day (totaling 3,000 mg of vitamin C and 3,200 IU of vitamin E per day) were able to delay the need for drug therapy (i.e., L-dopa or selegiline) by an average of about two and a half years, compared with those not taking the vitamins.169 The ten-year controlled trial used 2,000 IU of vitamin E per day found no benefit in slowing or improving the disease.170 The difference in the outcomes between these two trials might be due to the inclusion of vitamin C and/or the higher amount of vitamin E used in the successful trial. However, the difference might also be due to a better study design in the trial that found vitamin E to be ineffective.

The amounts of vitamin E used in the above trials were very high, because raising antioxidant levels in brain tissue is quite difficult to achieve.171 In fact, some researchers have found that even extremely high intakes of vitamin E (4,000 IU per day) failed to increase brain vitamin E levels.172 The difficulty in increasing brain vitamin E levels may explain the poor results of the large, controlled trial.

2 Stars
Pre- and Post-Surgery Health and Vitamin C Deficiency
100 to 250 mg once or twice per day
Vitamin C supports immune function and is a critical nutrient for wound healing. Supplementing with it may decrease the risk of excessive bleeding in the surgical setting.

Vitamin C deficiency can be detrimental to immune function in hospitalized patients,173 and one study found that half of surgery patients recovering at home had low dietary intakes of vitamin C.174 Vitamin C is also a critical nutrient for wound healing ,175 , 176 but studies of vitamin C supplementation have shown only minor effects on the healing of surgical wounds.177 , 178 Vitamin C deficiency also can increase the risk of excessive bleeding in the surgical setting.179

2 Stars
Pregnancy and Postpartum Support
100 mg daily
Supplementing with vitamin C during pregnancy may reduce the risk of premature rupture of membranes (PROM).

Premature rupture of membranes (PROM) affects 10 to 20% of all pregnancies. It is an important cause of preterm delivery and is associated with increased rates of complications in both the mother and child. In a double-blind study, supplementing with 100 mg of vitamin C per day, beginning in the twentieth week of pregnancy, reduced the incidence of PROM by 74%.180 The women in this study were consuming only about 65 mg of vitamin C per day in their diet, which is less than the RDA of 80 to 85 mg per day for pregnant women.

2 Stars
Schizophrenia
Consult a qualified healthcare practitioner
People with schizophrenia may require more vitamin C than the general population. In one trial, vitamin C reduced hallucinations, suspiciousness, and disorganized thoughts.

Up to 6 grams daily of vitamin C has been reported to be beneficial for people with schizophrenia;181 , 182 in one case the addition of 400 IU daily of vitamin E enhanced this benefit.183 A small preliminary trial using 8 grams daily of vitamin C showed decreases in hallucinations, suspiciousness, and unusual and disorganized thoughts in 77% of schizophrenic patients.184 In all reported cases, patients were also being treated with sychiatric medications. Some early studies found no difference between blood and urine vitamin C levels in schizophrenics and non-schizophrenics, either before or after supplementation.185 , 186 , 187 However, later studies found that blood and urine levels of vitamin C were lower in schizophrenics than in non-schizophrenics before and after a single 1,000 mg “load” of vitamin C was taken. After four weeks of daily supplementation with 1,000 mg of vitamin C, blood levels became the same, but urinary levels remained lower in the schizophrenic group, leading the researchers to conclude that the amount of vitamin C required by people with schizophrenia may be greater than that of the general population.188 , 189

2 Stars
Skin Ulcers
1,000 mg daily
Supplementing with vitamin C may help prevent skin ulcers and speed healing.

Antioxidants such as vitamin C , vitamin E , and glutathione are depleted in healing skin tissue.190 One animal study found that vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) applied to the skin shortened the healing time of skin ulcers.191 Another animal study reported that administration of oral vitamin E before skin lesions were introduced into the skin prevented some of the tissue damage associated with the development of pressure ulcers.192 A controlled human trial found that 400 IU of vitamin E daily improved the results of skin graft surgery for chronic venous ulcers.193 No further research has investigated the potential benefit of vitamin E for skin ulcers.

Animal research has suggested that vitamin C may help prevent skin ulcers,194 and in a preliminary study,195 elderly patients with pressure ulcers had lower blood levels of vitamin C than did ulcer-free patients. Supplementation with vitamin C (3 grams per day) increased the speed of healing of leg ulcers in patients with a blood disorder called thalassemia , according to a double-blind study.196 And while a double-blind trial of surgical patients with pressure ulcers found that supplementation with 500 mg of vitamin C twice a day accelerated ulcer healing,197 a similar double-blind trial found no difference in the effectiveness of either 20 mg per day or 1,000 mg per day of vitamin C.198

2 Stars
Sprains and Strains
250 to 500 mg with meals and at bedtime
Vitamin C is needed to make collagen, the “glue” that strengthens connective tissue. Vitamin C supplementation can speed healing of various types of trauma.

Antioxidant supplements, including vitamin C and vitamin E , may help prevent exercise-related muscle injuries by neutralizing free radicals produced during strenuous activities.199 Controlled research, some of it double-blind, has shown that 400–3,000 mg per day of vitamin C may reduce pain and speed up muscle strength recovery after intense exercise.200 , 201 Reductions in blood indicators of muscle damage and free radical activity have also been reported for supplementation with 400–1,200 IU per day of vitamin E in most studies,202 , 203 , 204 but no measurable benefits in exercise recovery have been reported.205 A combination of 90 mg per day of coenzyme Q10 and a very small amount of vitamin E did not produce any protective effects in one double-blind trial.206

Vitamin C is needed to make collagen, the “glue” that strengthens connective tissue. Injury, at least when severe, appears to increase vitamin C requirements,207 and vitamin C deficiency causes delayed healing from injury.208 Preliminary human studies have suggested that vitamin C supplementation in non-deficient people can speed healing of various types of trauma, including musculoskeletal injuries,209 , 210 but double-blind research has not confirmed these effects for athletic injuries, which included sprains and strains.211

2 Stars
Sunburn (Vitamin E)
Apply a formula containing 2% vitamin E and 5% vitamin C before sun exposure
Studies have found sunscreen-like effects from topical application of the vitamin C and vitamin E combination.

Antioxidants have been studied as topical agents for protection against sunburn. Animal studies have found sunscreen-like effects from topical application of a vitamin C and vitamin E combination, and a controlled human study reported ultraviolet protection from the use of a lotion containing 0.02% to 0.05% of the selenium -containing amino acid known as selenomethionine.212 , 213 The topical use of the hormone melatonin has been shown to protect human skin against ultraviolet rays in double-blind research.214 , 215 A double-blind human trial tested topical vitamins C and E and melatonin , alone and in combinations, and found the highest degrees of protection from combination formulations containing 2% vitamin E, 5% vitamin C, and 1% to 2.5% melatonin.216 Other studies in which topical antioxidants were applied after ultraviolet exposure have found no benefits.217 , 218

2 Stars
Type 1 Diabetes
500 mg twice per day
Supplementing with vitamin C may benefit people with type 1 diabetes in several ways, including by reducing sorbitol levels, urinary protein loss, glycosylation, and eye damage.

People with type 1 diabetes appear to have low vitamin C levels.219 As with vitamin E, vitamin C may reduce glycosylation.220 Vitamin C also lowers sorbitol levels in people with diabetes.221 Sorbitol is a sugar that can accumulate inside the cells and damage the eyes, nerves, and kidneys of people with diabetes. Vitamin C supplementation (500 mg twice a day for one year) has significantly reduced urinary protein loss in people with diabetes. Urinary protein loss (also called proteinuria) is associated with poor prognosis in diabetes.222 Many doctors suggest that people with diabetes supplement with 1 to 3 grams per day of vitamin C. Higher amounts could be problematic, however. In one person, 4.5 grams per day was reported to increase blood sugar levels.223

One study examined antioxidant supplement intake, including both vitamins E and C, and the incidence of diabetic eye damage ( retinopathy ).224 A surprising finding was that people with extensive retinopathy had a greater likelihood of having taken vitamin C and vitamin E supplements. The outcome of this study, however, does not fit with most other published data and might simply reflect the fact that sicker people are more likely to take supplements in hopes of getting better. For the present, most doctors remain relatively unconcerned about the outcome of this isolated report.

2 Stars
Type 2 Diabetes
500 mg twice per day
Supplementing with vitamin C may benefit people with type 2 diabetes in several ways, including by reducing sorbitol levels, urinary protein loss, and glycosylation.

As with vitamin E, vitamin C may reduce glycosylation.225 Vitamin C also lowers sorbitol levels in people with diabetes.226 Sorbitol is a sugar that can accumulate inside the cells and damage the eyes, nerves, and kidneys of people with diabetes. Vitamin C may improve glucose tolerance in type 2 diabetes,227 , 228 , 229although not every study confirms this benefit.230 Vitamin C supplementation (500 mg twice a day for one year) has significantly reduced urinary protein loss in people with diabetes. Urinary protein loss (also called proteinuria) is associated with poor prognosis in diabetes.231 Many doctors suggest that people with diabetes supplement with 1 to 3 grams per day of vitamin C. Higher amounts could be problematic, however. In one person, 4.5 grams per day was reported to increase blood sugar levels.232

One study examined antioxidant supplement intake, including both vitamins E and C, and the incidence of diabetic retinopathy (damage to the eyes caused by diabetes).233 Surprisingly, people with extensive retinopathy had a greater likelihood of having taken vitamin C and vitamin E supplements. The outcome of this trial, however, does not fit with most other published data and might simply reflect the fact that sicker people are more likely to take supplements in hopes of getting better. For the present, most doctors remain relatively unconcerned about the outcome of this isolated report.

2 Stars
Urinary Tract Infection
Refer to label instructions
Supplementing with vitamin C may treat acute UTIs and help people who are prone to recurrent UTIs.

Many doctors recommend 5,000 mg or more of vitamin C per day for an acute UTI, as well as long-term supplementation for people who are prone to recurrent UTIs. Vitamin C has been shown to inhibit the growth of E. coli, the most common bacterial cause of UTIs.234 In addition, supplementation with 4,000 mg or more of vitamin C per day, results in a slight increase in the acidity of the urine,235 creating an “unfriendly” environment for some infection-causing bacteria. In one controlled trial, pregnant women who supplemented with 100 mg of vitamin C per day experienced 56% less UTI frequency, compared with a placebo.236

1 Star
Age-Related Cognitive Decline
Refer to label instructions
Use of vitamin C, alone or with vitamin E, has been associated with better cognitive function and a reduced risk of certain forms of dementia (not including Alzheimer’s disease).

Use of vitamin C or vitamin E supplements, or both, has been associated with better cognitive function and a reduced risk of certain forms of dementia (not including Alzheimer’s disease).237 Clinical trials of these antioxidants are needed to confirm the possible benefits suggested by this study.

1 Star
Alcohol Withdrawal
Refer to label instructions
Vitamin C appears to help the body rid itself of alcohol. Alcohol-related anxiety may also be improved by a combination of vitamin C, vitamin B6, niacin, and vitamin E, though the high amounts B vitamins studied need a doctor’s supervision.

The daily combination of 3 grams of vitamin C , 3 grams of niacin , 600 mg of vitamin B6 , and 600 IU of vitamin E has been used by researchers from the University of Mississippi Medical Center in an attempt to reduce anxiety and depression in alcoholics.238 Although the effect of vitamin supplementation was no better than placebo in treating alcohol-associated depression, the vitamins did result in a significant drop in anxiety within three weeks of use. Because of possible side effects, anyone taking such high amounts of niacin and vitamin B6 must do so only under the care of a doctor.

Although the incidence of B-complex deficiencies is known to be high in alcoholics, the incidence of other vitamin deficiencies remains less clear.239 Nonetheless, deficiencies of vitamin A , vitamin D , vitamin E , and vitamin C are seen in many alcoholics. While some reports have suggested it may be safer for alcoholics to supplement with beta-carotene instead of vitamin A,240 potential problems accompany the use of either vitamin A or beta-carotene in correcting the deficiency induced by alcoholism.241 These problems result in part because the combinations of alcohol and vitamin A or alcohol and beta-carotene appear to increase potential damage to the liver. Thus, vitamin A-depleted alcoholics require a doctor’s intervention, including supplementation with vitamin A and beta-carotene accompanied by assessment of liver function. Supplementing with vitamin C, on the other hand, appears to help the body rid itself of alcohol.242 Some doctors recommend 1 to 3 grams per day of vitamin C.

1 Star
Amenorrhea (Clomiphene)
Refer to label instructions
Vitamin C combined with the drug clomiphene, which affects female hormone levels, is more effective at stimulating ovulation in women with amenorrhea than either substance alone.
Vitamin C alone, at 400 mg daily, had no effect on amenorrhea in one preliminary trial, although it was associated with the return of ovulation in some women who were menstruating regularly but not ovulating. In a second phase of the trial, the same amount of vitamin C was combined with a drug that affects female hormone levels, and this combination was associated with return of ovulation in almost half of amenorrheic women who had not benefited from the drug alone.243 More studies of the effect of vitamin C on amenorrhea are needed.
1 Star
Asthma (Vitamin E, Selenium)
Refer to label instructions
There is some evidence that a combination of antioxidants vitamin E, vitamin C, and selenium may help prevent asthma thought to be caused by air pollution.

There is some evidence that combinations of antioxidants such as vitamin E, vitamin C, and selenium may help improve symptoms of asthma throught to be caused by air pollution.244 In one double-blind study, 46 Dutch bicyclists were randomly assigned to receive a placebo or 100 mg of vitamin E and 500 mg of vitamin C daily for 15 weeks.245 Lung function was measured before and after each training session on 380 different occasions, and ambient ozone concentrations were measured during each training session. After analysis, researchers concluded that bicyclists with the vitamins C and E blunted the adverse effects of ozone on measures of lung function. In another double-blind study, 17 adults (18 to 39 years old) were randomly assigned to receive either 400 IU per day of vitamin E and 500 mg per day of vitamin C or a placebo for five weeks.246 Tests showing improved measures of lung function led researchers to conclude that supplementation with vitamins C and E inhibited the decline in pulmonary function induced in asthmatics by exposure to air pollutants. Also using a double-blind design, another study of 158 children with asthma living in Mexico City were randomly assigned to receive, a daily supplement containing 50 mg of vitamin E and 250 mg of vitamin C or a placebo.247 Tests results suggested that supplementing with vitamins C and E may reduce the adverse effect of ozone exposure on lung function of children with moderate to severe asthma.

1 Star
Bipolar Disorder
Refer to label instructions
Vitamin C helps the body reduce its load of vanadium, a mineral that adversely influences bipolar disorder. It has improved symptoms of depression and mania in some studies.

Vitamin C helps the body to reduce its load of vanadium and this has been studied for its possible role in treatment of bipolar disorder.248 A double-blind trial found that both manic and depressed bipolar patients were significantly improved after one-time administration of 3 grams of vitamin C, compared with a placebo.249 The same study found that both manic and depressed patients did better on a reduced-vanadium diet compared to a normal diet. Another double-blind study reported that 4 grams per day of vitamin C in combination with a drug known as EDTA (which also helps remove elements such as vanadium from the body) was helpful to depressed bipolar patients but not to those experiencing mania.250 Until more is known, people with bipolar illness should avoid supplements containing vanadium and consider supplementing with vitamin C.

1 Star
Cataracts
500 to 1,000 mg daily
Supplementing with vitamin C, an important nutrient for healthy vision, has been linked with lower risk of developing cataracts.

People with low blood levels of antioxidants and those who eat few antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables have been reported to be at high risk for cataracts.251 , 252

The major antioxidants in the lens of the eye are vitamin C 253 and glutathione (a molecule composed of three amino acids ).254 Vitamin C is needed to activate vitamin E ,255 which in turn activates glutathione. Both nutrients are important for healthy vision. People who take multivitamins or any supplements containing vitamins C or E for more than 10 years have been reported to have a 60% lower risk of forming a cataract.256

Vitamin C levels in the eye decrease with age.257 However, supplementing with vitamin C prevents this decrease258 and has been linked to a lower risk of developing cataracts.259 , 260 Healthy people are more likely to take vitamin C and vitamin E supplements than those with cataracts according to some,261 but not all,262 studies. Dietary vitamin C intake has not been consistently associated with protection from cataracts.263 , 264 Nonetheless, because people who supplement with vitamin C have developed far fewer cataracts in some research,265 , 266 doctors often recommend 500 to 1,000 mg of vitamin C supplementation as part of a cataract prevention program. The difference between successful and unsuccessful trials may be tied to the length of time people actually supplement with vitamin C. In one preliminary study, people taking vitamin C for at least ten years showed a dramatic reduction in cataract risk, but those taking vitamin C for less than ten years showed no evidence of protection at all.267

1 Star
Childhood Diseases
Refer to label instructions
Vitamin C enhances the immune system and may protect against viral infections, including measles and chicken pox.

Vitamin C has been demonstrated in test tube, animal, and human studies to have immune-enhancing and direct antiviral properties.268 Preliminary observations made on the effect of vitamin C on viral infections have involved both measles and chicken pox.269 An active immune system uses vitamin C rapidly, and blood levels fall in children with bacterial or viral infections.270 Reduced immune cell activity has been observed in people with measles, but in one preliminary study, supplementation with 250 mg daily of vitamin C in children 18 months to 3 years old had no impact on the course of the illness.271 The authors of this study admit that this amount of vitamin C may have been too low to bring about an observable increase in immune cell activity and thus an increase in speed of recovery.

1 Star
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Refer to label instructions
In one study, people who got more vitamin C from their diet were less likely to be diagnosed with bronchitis, however, vitamin C has not been studied in relation to COPD.

A review of nutrition and lung health reported that people with a higher dietary intake of vitamin C were less likely to be diagnosed with bronchitis .272 As yet, the effects of supplementing with vitamin C in people with COPD have not been studied.

1 Star
Colon Cancer
Refer to label instructions
Vitamin C has been shown to improve precancerous conditions in at-risk people.

Women, but not men, who took vitamin C supplements were reported to have a reduced risk of colon cancer, according to a preliminary report.273

Familial polyposis is a disease that usually leads to colon cancer. In a double-blind study, supplementation with 3 grams per day of vitamin C for nine months led to a reduction in the number of precancerous polyps in people with familial polyposis.274 In another controlled trial, combining vitamin C with vitamin A and vitamin E led to a dramatic reduction in the recurrence of adenomatous polyps—another precancerous condition of the colon.275 However, other trials attempting to prevent recurrence of adenomatous polyps using vitamin C alone or in combination with other vitamins have reported no therapeutic effect276 or only weak trends favoring the group given supplements.277 , 278

Therefore, the ability of vitamin C supplementation to reduce recurrences of precancerous polyps remains unproven. Whether long-term supplementation with vitamin C would directly help in the prevention of colon cancer has not yet been studied.

1 Star
Ear Infections
Refer to label instructions
Supplementing with vitamin C stimulates the immune system and may help prevent ear infections.

Vitamin C supplementation has been reported to stimulate immune function .279 , 280 As a result, some doctors recommend between 500 mg and 1,000 mg of vitamin C per day for people with ear infections. Nonetheless, vitamin C supplementation has not been studied by itself in people with ear infections.

1 Star
Eczema
Refer to label instructions
Vitamin C might be beneficial in treating eczema by affecting the immune system.

In 1989, Medical World News reported that researchers from the University of Texas found that vitamin C , at 50–75 mg per 2.2 pounds of body weight, reduced symptoms of eczema in a double-blind trial.281 In theory, vitamin C might be beneficial in treating eczema by affecting the immune system , but further research has yet to investigate any role for this vitamin in people with eczema.

1 Star
Gallstones
Refer to label instructions
Vitamin C is needed for the body to convert cholesterol to bile acids and may help reduce symptoms of gallstones.

Vitamin C is needed to convert cholesterol to bile acids. In theory, such a conversion should reduce gallstone risks. Women who have higher blood levels of vitamin C have a reduced risk of gallstones.282 Although this does not prove that vitamin C supplements can prevent or treat gallstones, some researchers believe this is plausible.283 One study reported that people who drink alcohol and take vitamin C supplements have only half the risk of gallstones compared with other drinkers, though the apparent protective effect of vitamin C did not appear in non-drinkers.284 In another trial, supplementation with vitamin C (500 mg taken four times per day for two weeks before gallbladder surgery) led to improvement in one parameter of gallstone risk (“nucleation time”), though there was no change in the relative level of cholesterol found in bile.285 While many doctors recommend vitamin C supplementation to people with a history of gallstones, supportive evidence remains preliminary.

1 Star
Hay Fever
Refer to label instructions
Vitamin C has antihistamine activity, and supplementing with it has been reported to help people with hay fever.

Although vitamin C has antihistamine activity, and supplementation, in preliminary research,286 , 287 has been reported to help people with hay fever, 2,000 mg of vitamin C per day did not reduce hay fever symptoms in a placebo controlled trial.288 Thus, while some doctors recommend that hay fever sufferers take 1,000–3,000 mg of vitamin C per day, supportive evidence remains weak.

1 Star
Heart Attack
Refer to label instructions
Vitamin C has been reported to protect blood vessels from problems associated with heart attack risk in a variety of ways.
Vitamin C has been reported to protect blood vessels from problems associated with heart attack risk in a variety of ways.289 , 290 , 291 However, research attempting to link vitamin C directly to protection from heart attacks has been inconsistent.292 , 293 The reason for this discrepancy appears related to the amount of vitamin C intake investigated in these studies. True or marginal vitamin C deficiencies do appear to increase the risk of suffering heart attacks.294 , 295 However, in trials comparing acceptable (i.e., non-deficient) vitamin C levels to even higher levels, additional vitamin C has not been protective.296 Therefore, though many doctors recommend that people at high risk for heart attack take vitamin C—often 1 gram per day—most evidence currently suggests that consuming as little as 100–200 mg of vitamin C per day from food or supplements may well be sufficient.
1 Star
Heart Attack and Vitamin C Deficiency
100 to 200 mg daily
Taking vitamin C may reduce heart attack risk in people who are deficient.

Vitamin C has been reported to protect blood vessels from problems associated with heart attack risk in a variety of ways.297 , 298 , 299 However, research attempting to link vitamin C directly to protection from heart attacks has been inconsistent.300 , 301 The reason for this discrepancy appears related to the amount of vitamin C intake investigated in these studies. True or marginal vitamin C deficiencies do appear to increase the risk of suffering heart attacks.302 , 303 However, in trials comparing acceptable (i.e., non-deficient) vitamin C levels to even higher levels, additional vitamin C has not been protective.304 Therefore, though many doctors recommend that people at high risk for heart attack take vitamin C—often 1 gram per day—most evidence currently suggests that consuming as little as 100–200 mg of vitamin C per day from food or supplements may well be sufficient.

1 Star
Hepatitis
Refer to label instructions
Vitamin C may be efffective at preventing hepatitis infection in people receiving blood transfusions and at treating viral hepatitis.

Vitamin C in the amount of 2 grams per day was reported in a preliminary trial to prevent hepatitis infection in individuals receiving blood transfusions.305 This report was followed up by a double-blind trial, in which 3.2 grams per day of vitamin C was reported to have no protective effect against post-transfusion hepatitis.306 (However, in the latter trial, vitamin C actually reduced the incidence of hepatitis by 29%, although this reduction was not statistically significant.) An older trial suggested that injections of vitamin C may be helpful in treating viral hepatitis.307

1 Star
Hives
Refer to label instructions
High amounts of vitamin C might help people with hives by lowering histamine levels.

In theory, high amounts of vitamin C might help people with hives by lowering histamine levels.308 Amounts of at least 2,000 mg daily appear necessary to produce these effects.309 No research trials have yet explored the clinical effects of vitamin C supplementation in people with hives.

1 Star
Hypoglycemia
Refer to label instructions
Vitamin C helps control blood sugar levels in people with diabetes, and since there are similarities in the way the body regulates high and low blood sugar levels, it might be helpful for hypoglycemia as well.

Research has shown that supplementing with chromium (200 mcg per day)310 or magnesium (340 mg per day)311 can prevent blood sugar levels from falling excessively in people with hypoglycemia. Niacinamide (vitamin B3) has also been found to be helpful for hypoglycemic people.312 Other nutrients, including vitamin C , vitamin E , zinc , copper , manganese , and vitamin B6 , may help control blood sugar levels in diabetics .313 Since there are similarities in the way the body regulates high and low blood sugar levels, these nutrients might be helpful for hypoglycemia as well, although the amounts needed for that purpose are not known.

1 Star
Low Back Pain
Refer to label instructions
A preliminary report suggested that vitamin C helped many people avoid surgery for their disc-related low back pain.

A preliminary report in 1964 suggested that 500–1,000 mg per day of vitamin C helped many people avoid surgery for their disc-related low back pain.314 No controlled research has been done to examine this claim further.

1 Star
Macular Degeneration
Refer to label instructions
Sunlight triggers oxidative damage in the eye, which in turn can cause macular degeneration. Vitamin C protects against oxidative damage and may reduce macular degeneration risk.

Sunlight triggers oxidative damage in the eye, which in turn can cause macular degeneration.315 Because vitamin C functions as an antioxidant, it has the potential to protect against macular degeneration. However, in a double-blind trial, supplementing with 500 mg of vitamin C daily for eight years did not decrease the incidence of macular degeneration in healthy male physicians.316

1 Star
Menopause
Refer to label instructions
A combination of vitamin C and the flavonoid hesperidin were reported to relieve hot flashes in menopausal women.

In 1964, a preliminary trial reported that 1,200 mg each of vitamin C and the flavonoid hesperidin taken over the course of the day helped relieve hot flashes.317 Although placebo effects are strong in women with hot flashes, other treatments used in that trial failed to act as effectively as the flavonoid/vitamin C combination. Since then, researchers have not explored the effects of flavonoids or vitamin C in women with menopausal symptoms.

1 Star
Menorrhagia
Refer to label instructions
Vitamin C protects capillaries (small blood vessels) from damage. In so doing, it might protect against the blood loss of menorrhagia.

Both vitamin C and flavonoids protect capillaries (small blood vessels) from damage. In so doing, they might protect against the blood loss of menorrhagia. In one small study, 88% of women with menorrhagia improved when given 200 mg vitamin C and 200 mg flavonoids three times per day.318 In another study, 70% of women with excessive menstrual bleeding experienced at least a 50% reduction in bleeding after taking a flavonoid product.319 The preparation used in this study contained 90% diosmin and 10% hesperidin and was given in the amount of 1,000 mg per day, beginning five days prior to the expected start of menstruation and continuing until the end of bleeding for three cycles.

1 Star
Morning Sickness
Refer to label instructions
Vitamin K and vitamin C, taken together, may provide relief of morning sickness symptoms for some women.

Vitamin K and vitamin C , taken together, may provide relief of symptoms for some women. In one study, 91% of women who took 5 mg of vitamin K and 25 mg of vitamin C per day reported the complete disappearance of morning sickness within three days.320 Menadione was removed from the market a number of years ago because of concerns about potential toxicity. Although some doctors still use a combination of vitamin K1 (the most prevalent form of vitamin K in food) and vitamin C for morning sickness, no studies on this treatment have been done.

1 Star
Peptic Ulcer
Refer to label instructions
Vitamin C may be useful in treating peptic ulcers because of its ability to help eradicate H. pylori

Little is known about the effects of vitamin C supplementation for people with peptic ulcer. People with gastritis , a related condition, have been found to have low levels of vitamin C in their stomach juice. Vitamin C may also help eradicate H. pylori in people with gastritis. Vitamin C may one day prove to have a therapeutic effect for people with peptic ulcer; however, further research in this area is needed.321

1 Star
Sickle Cell Anemia
Refer to label instructions
Sickle cell anemia patients tend to have low levels of antioxidants, which protect cells from oxygen-related damage. Supplementing with vitamin C may help correct a deficiency.

Antioxidant nutrients protect the body’s cells from oxygen-related damage. Many studies show that sickle cell anemia patients tend to have low blood levels of antioxidants, including carotenoids , vitamin A , vitamin E , and vitamin C , despite adequate intake.322 , 323 , 324 , 325 , 326 , 327 Low blood levels of vitamin E in particular have been associated with higher numbers of diseased cells in children328 and with greater frequency of symptoms in adults.329 A small, preliminary trial reported a 44% decrease in the average number of diseased cells in six sickle cell anemia patients given 450 IU vitamin E per day for up to 35 weeks. This effect was maintained as long as supplementation continued.330

In another preliminary trial, 13 patients with sickle cell anemia were given two supplement combinations for seven to eight months each. The first combination included 109 mg zinc , 153 IU vitamin E , 600 mg vitamin C , and 400 ml (about 14 ounces) of soybean oil containing 11 grams of linoleic acid and 1.5 grams of alpha linolenic acid. The second combination included 140 IU vitamin E, 600 mg vitamin C, and 20 grams of fish oil containing 6 grams of omega-3 fatty acids. Reduction in diseased cells was observed only during the administration of the first protocol. The authors concluded that zinc was the important difference between the two combinations and may be a protector of red blood cell membranes.331

Fish oil alone has also been studied. In a double-blind trial, supplementation with menhaden oil, in the amount of 250 mg per 2.2 pounds of body weight per day for one year, reduced the frequency of severe pain episodes by approximately 45%, compared with placebo.332 This treatment may work by correcting an imbalance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that occurs in people with sickle cell anemia.333

1 Star
Tardive Dyskinesia
Refer to label instructions
In some studies, taking vitamin C along with other nutrients appeared to prevent the development of tardive dyskinesia

During a ten-year period, doctors at the North Nassau Mental Health Center in New York treated approximately 11,000 people with schizophrenia with a megavitamin regimen that included vitamin C (up to 4 grams per day), vitamin B3 —either as niacin or niacinamide—(up to 4 grams per day), vitamin B6 (up to 800 mg per day), and vitamin E (up to 1,200 IU per day). During that time, not a single new case of TD was seen, even though many of the people were taking neuroleptic drugs.334 Another psychiatrist who routinely used niacinamide , vitamin C, and vitamin B-complex over a 28-year period rarely saw TD develop in her patients.335 Further research is needed to determine which nutrients or combinations of nutrients were most important for preventing TD. The amounts of niacinamide and vitamin B6 used in this research may cause significant side effects and may require monitoring by a doctor.

1 Star
Type 1 Diabetes (Selenium, Vitamin A, Vitamin E)
Refer to label instructions
A combination of the antioxidants selenium, vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E has been shown to improve diabetic retinopathy.
Because oxidation damage is believed to play a role in the development of diabetic eye damage ( retinopathy ), antioxidant nutrients might be protective. One doctor has administered a daily regimen of 500 mcg selenium , 800 IU vitamin E , 10,000 IU vitamin A , and 1,000 mg vitamin C for several years to 20 people with diabetic eye damage ( retinopathy ). During that time, 19 of the 20 people showed either improvement or no progression of their retinopathy.336 People who wish to supplement with more than 250 mcg of selenium per day should consult a healthcare practitioner.
1 Star
Type 1 Diabetes and Diabetic Retinopathy (Selenium, Vitamin A, Vitamin E)
Refer to label instructions
Antioxidant nutrients including selenium, vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E may combat free radicals associated with diabetic retinopathy.
Because oxidation damage is believed to play a role in the development of diabetic eye damage ( retinopathy ), antioxidant nutrients might be protective. One doctor has administered a daily regimen of 500 mcg selenium , 800 IU vitamin E , 10,000 IU vitamin A , and 1,000 mg vitamin C for several years to 20 people with diabetic eye damage ( retinopathy ). During that time, 19 of the 20 people showed either improvement or no progression of their retinopathy.337 People who wish to supplement with more than 250 mcg of selenium per day should consult a healthcare practitioner.
1 Star
Vitiligo
Refer to label instructions
Vitamin C has been shown to be effective at skin repigmentation in people with vitiligo.

A clinical report describes the use of vitamin supplements in the treatment of vitiligo.338 Folic acid and/or vitamin B12 and vitamin C levels were abnormally low in most of the 15 people studied. Supplementation with large amounts of folic acid (1–10 mg per day), along with vitamin C (1 gram per day) and intramuscular vitamin B12 injections (1,000 mcg every two weeks), produced marked repigmentation in eight people. These improvements became apparent after three months, but complete repigmentation required one to two years of continuous supplementation. In another study of people with vitiligo, oral supplementation with folic acid (10 mg per day) and vitamin B12 (2,000 mcg per day), combined with sun exposure, resulted in some repigmentation after three to six months in about half of the participants.339 This combined regimen was more effective than either vitamin supplementation or sun exposure alone.

How It Works

How to Use It

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for vitamin C in nonsmoking adults is 75 mg per day for women and 90 mg per day for men. For smokers, the RDAs are 110 mg per day for women and 125 mg per day for men. Most clinical vitamin C studies have investigated the effects of a broad range of higher vitamin C intakes (100–1,000 mg per day or more), often not looking for (or finding) the “optimal” intake within that range. In terms of heart disease prevention, as little as 100–200 mg of vitamin C appears to be adequate.340 Although some doctors recommend 500–1,000 mg per day or more, additional research is needed to determine whether these larger amounts are necessary. Some vitamin C experts propose that adequate intake be considered 200 mg per day because of evidence that the cells of the human body do not take up any more vitamin C when larger daily amounts are used.341

Some scientists have recommended that healthy people take multi-gram amounts of vitamin C for the prevention of illness. However, little or no research supports this point of view and it remains controversial. Supplementing more results in an excretion level virtually identical to intake, meaning that consuming more vitamin C does not increase the amount that remains in the body.342 On the basis of extensive analysis of published vitamin C studies, researchers at the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University have called for the RDA to be increased, but only to 120 mg.343 This same report reveals that “. . . 90–100 mg vitamin C per day is required for optimum reduction of chronic disease risk in nonsmoking men and women.” Thus, the multiple gram amounts of vitamin C taken by many healthy people may be superfluous.

The studies that ascertained approximately 120–200 mg daily of vitamin C is correct for prevention purposes in healthy people have typically not investigated whether people suffering from various diseases can benefit from larger amounts. In the case of the common cold , a review of published trials found that amounts of 2 grams per day in children appear to be more effective than 1 gram per day in adults, suggesting that large intakes of vitamin C may be more effective than smaller amounts, at least for this condition.344

Ascorbyl palmitate, often sold as “vitamin C ester,” is formed from ascorbic acid and palmitic acid creating a fat-soluble form of vitamin C that is sometimes used as an antioxidant food additive (E number E304). Oral supplements of ascorbyl palmitate are less effective, as it breaks down into its components before being digested. 

Where to Find It

Broccoli, red peppers, currants, Brussels sprouts, parsley, potatoes, citrus fruit, and strawberries are good sources of vitamin C.  Rose hips, harvested from rose bushes and sold as a supplement, are particularly high in vitamin C.

Possible Deficiencies

Although scurvy (severe vitamin C deficiency) is uncommon in Western societies, many doctors believe that most people consume less than optimal amounts. Fatigue, easy bruising , and bleeding gums are early signs of vitamin C deficiency that occur long before frank scurvy develops. Smokers have low levels of vitamin C and require a higher daily intake to maintain normal vitamin C levels. Women with preeclampsia have been found to have lower blood levels of vitamin C than women without the condition.345 Women who have lower blood levels of vitamin C have an increased risk of gallstones .346

People with kidney failure have an increased risk of vitamin C deficiency.347 However, people with kidney failure should take vitamin C only under the supervision of a doctor.

Interactions

Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds

Intake of large amounts of vitamin C can deplete the body of copper 348 , 349—an essential nutrient. People should be sure to maintain adequate copper intake at higher intakes of vitamin C. Copper is found in many multivitamin-mineral supplements. Vitamin C increases the absorption of iron and should be avoided by people with iron overload diseases (e.g., hemochromatosis, hemosiderosis). Vitamin C helps recycle the antioxidant , vitamin E .

Interactions with Medicines

Certain medicines interact with this supplement.

Types of interactions: Beneficial Adverse Check

Replenish Depleted Nutrients

  • Ampicillin

    Test tube studies show that ampicillin significantly reduces the amount of vitamin C in the blood.350 Controlled research is needed to determine whether individuals might benefit from supplementing vitamin C while taking ampicillin.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Aspirin

    Taking aspirin has been associated with increased loss of vitamin C in urine and has been linked to depletion of vitamin C.351 People who take aspirin regularly should consider supplementing at least a few hundred milligrams of vitamin C per day. Such an amount is often found in a multivitamin .

  • Desogestrel-Ethinyl Estradiol

    A review of literature suggests that women who use oral contraceptives may experience decreased vitamin B1 , B2 , B3 , B12 , C , and zinc levels.386 , 387 , 388 Oral contraceptive use has been associated with increased absorption of calcium and copper and with increased blood levels of copper and vitamin A .389 , 390 , 391 Oral contraceptives may interfere with manganese absorption.392 The clinical importance of these actions remains unclear.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Dexamethasone

    Oral corticosteroids have been found to increase urinary loss of vitamin K , vitamin C , selenium , and zinc .393 , 394 The importance of these losses is unknown.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Ethinyl Estradiol and Levonorgestrel

    A review of literature suggests that women who use oral contraceptives may experience decreased vitamin B1 , B2 , B3 , B12 , C , and zinc levels.409 , 410 , 411 Oral contraceptive use has been associated with increased absorption of calcium and copper and with increased blood levels of copper and vitamin A .412 , 413 , 414 Oral contraceptives may interfere with manganese absorption.415 The clinical importance of these actions remains unclear.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Ethinyl Estradiol and Norethindrone

    A review of literature suggests that women who use OCs may experience decreased vitamin B1 , B2 , B3 , B12 , C , and zinc levels.416 , 417 , 418 OC use has been associated with increased absorption of calcium and copper and with increased blood levels of copper and vitamin A .419 , 420 , 421 OCs may interfere with manganese absorption.422 The clinical importance of these actions remains unclear.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Ethinyl Estradiol and Norgestimate

    A review of literature suggests that women who use OCs may experience decreased vitamin B1 , B2 , B3 , B12 , C , and zinc levels.423 , 424 , 425 OC use has been associated with increased absorption of calcium and copper and with increased blood levels of copper and vitamin A .426 , 427 , 428 OCs may interfere with manganese absorption.429 The clinical importance of these actions remains unclear.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Ethinyl Estradiol and Norgestrel

    A review of literature suggests that women who use oral contraceptives may experience decreased vitamin B1 , B2 , B3 , B12 , C , and zinc levels.430 , 431 , 432 Oral contraceptive use has been associated with increased absorption of calcium and copper and with increased blood levels of copper and vitamin A .433 , 434 , 435 Oral contraceptives may interfere with manganese absorption.436 The clinical importance of these actions remains unclear.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Indomethacin

    Indomethacin has been reported to decrease absorption of folic acid and vitamin C .457 Under certain circumstances, indomethacin may interfere with the actions of vitamin C.458 Calcium and phosphate levels may also be reduced with indomethacin therapy.459 It remains unclear whether people taking this drug need to supplement any of these nutrients.

  • Levonorgestrel

    A review of literature suggests that women who use oral contraceptives may experience decreased vitamin B1 , B2 , B3 , B12 , C , and zinc levels.466 , 467 , 468 Oral contraceptive use has been associated with increased absorption of calcium and copper and with increased blood levels of copper and vitamin A .469 , 470 , 471 Oral contraceptives may interfere with manganese absorption.472 The clinical importance of these actions remains unclear.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Levonorgestrel-Ethinyl Estrad

    A review of literature suggests that women who use oral contraceptives may experience decreased vitamin B1 , B2 , B3 , B12 , C , and zinc levels.473 , 474 , 475 Oral contraceptive use has been associated with increased absorption of calcium and copper and with increased blood levels of copper and vitamin A .476 , 477 , 478 Oral contraceptives may interfere with manganese absorption.479 The clinical importance of these actions remains unclear.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Mestranol and Norethindrone

    A review of literature suggests that women who use oral contraceptives may experience decreased vitamin B1 , B2 , B3 , B12 , C , and zinc levels.504 , 505 , 506 Oral contraceptive use has been associated with increased absorption of calcium and copper and with increased blood levels of copper and vitamin A .507 , 508 , 509 Oral contraceptives may interfere with manganese absorption.510 The clinical importance of these actions remains unclear.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Norgestimate-Ethinyl Estradiol

    A review of literature suggests that women who use oral contraceptives may experience decreased vitamin B1 , B2 , B3 , B12 , C , and zinc levels.514 , 515 , 516 Oral contraceptive use has been associated with increased absorption of calcium and copper and with increased blood levels of copper and vitamin A .517 , 518 , 519 Oral contraceptives may interfere with manganese absorption.520 The clinical importance of these actions remains unclear.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Omeprazole

    Treatment of healthy volunteers with omeprazole for four weeks resulted in a 12.3% decrease in blood levels of vitamin C.521

  • Salsalate

    Salsalate and aspirin are rapidly converted in the body to salicylic acid. Controlled studies show that taking aspirin increases the elimination of vitamin C from the body and lowers blood levels.528 Further controlled research is needed to determine whether salsalate specifically reduces vitamin C levels and whether people taking the drug are at risk for vitamin C deficiency.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.

Reduce Side Effects

  • Busulfan

    Chemotherapy can injure cancer cells by creating oxidative damage. As a result, some oncologists recommend that patients avoid supplementing antioxidants if they are undergoing chemotherapy. Limited test tube research occasionally does support the idea that an antioxidant can interfere with oxidative damage to cancer cells.352 However, most scientific research does not support this supposition.

    A modified form of vitamin A has been reported to work synergistically with chemotherapy in test tube research.353 Vitamin C appears to increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy in animals354 and with human breast cancer cells in test tube research.355 In a double-blind study, Japanese researchers found that the combination of vitamin E , vitamin C, and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) —all antioxidants—protected against chemotherapy-induced heart damage without interfering with the action of the chemotherapy.356

    A comprehensive review of antioxidants and chemotherapy leaves open the question of whether supplemental antioxidants definitely help people with chemotherapy side effects, but neither does it show that antioxidants should be avoided for fear that the actions of chemotherapy are interfered with.357 Although research remains incomplete, the idea that people taking chemotherapy should avoid antioxidants is not supported by scientific research.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Carboplatin

    Chemotherapy can injure cancer cells by creating oxidative damage. As a result, some oncologists recommend that patients avoid supplementing antioxidants if they are undergoing chemotherapy. Limited test tube research occasionally does support the idea that an antioxidant can interfere with oxidative damage to cancer cells.360 However, most scientific research does not support this supposition.

    A modified form of vitamin A has been reported to work synergistically with chemotherapy in test tube research.361 Vitamin C appears to increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy in animals362 and with human breast cancer cells in test tube research.363 In a double-blind study, Japanese researchers found that the combination of vitamin E , vitamin C, and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) —all antioxidants—protected against chemotherapy-induced heart damage without interfering with the action of the chemotherapy.364

    A comprehensive review of antioxidants and chemotherapy leaves open the question of whether supplemental antioxidants definitely help people with chemotherapy side effects, but neither does it show that antioxidants should be avoided for fear that the actions of chemotherapy are interfered with.365 Although research remains incomplete, the idea that people taking chemotherapy should avoid antioxidants is not supported by scientific research.

  • Carmustine

    Chemotherapy can injure cancer cells by creating oxidative damage. As a result, some oncologists recommend that patients avoid supplementing antioxidants if they are undergoing chemotherapy. Limited test tube research occasionally does support the idea that an antioxidant can interfere with oxidative damage to cancer cells.366 However, most scientific research does not support this supposition.

    A modified form of vitamin A has been reported to work synergistically with chemotherapy in test tube research.367 Vitamin C appears to increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy in animals368 and with human breast cancer cells in test tube research.369 In a double-blind study, Japanese researchers found that the combination of vitamin E , vitamin C, and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) —all antioxidants—protected against chemotherapy-induced heart damage without interfering with the action of the chemotherapy.370

    A comprehensive review of antioxidants and chemotherapy leaves open the question of whether supplemental antioxidants definitely help people with chemotherapy side effects, but neither does it show that antioxidants should be avoided for fear that the actions of chemotherapy are interfered with.371 Although research remains incomplete, the idea that people taking chemotherapy should avoid antioxidants is not supported by scientific research.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Chlorambucil

    Chemotherapy can injure cancer cells by creating oxidative damage. As a result, some oncologists recommend that patients avoid supplementing antioxidants if they are undergoing chemotherapy. Limited test tube research occasionally does support the idea that an antioxidant can interfere with oxidative damage to cancer cells.372 However, most scientific research does not support this supposition.

    A modified form of vitamin A has been reported to work synergistically with chemotherapy in test tube research.373 Vitamin C appears to increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy in animals374 and with human breast cancer cells in test tube research.375 In a double-blind study, Japanese researchers found that the combination of vitamin E , vitamin C, and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) —all antioxidants—protected against chemotherapy-induced heart damage without interfering with the action of the chemotherapy.376

    A comprehensive review of antioxidants and chemotherapy leaves open the question of whether supplemental antioxidants definitely help people with chemotherapy side effects, but neither does it show that antioxidants should be avoided for fear that the actions of chemotherapy are interfered with.377 Although research remains incomplete, the idea that people taking chemotherapy should avoid antioxidants is not supported by scientific research.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Cladribine

    Chemotherapy can injure cancer cells by creating oxidative damage. As a result, some oncologists recommend that patients avoid supplementing antioxidants if they are undergoing chemotherapy. Limited test tube research occasionally does support the idea that an antioxidant can interfere with oxidative damage to cancer cells.378 However, most scientific research does not support this supposition.

    A modified form of vitamin A has been reported to work synergistically with chemotherapy in test tube research.379 Vitamin C appears to increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy in animals380 and with human breast cancer cells in test tube research.381 In a double-blind study, Japanese researchers found that the combination of vitamin E , vitamin C, and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) —all antioxidants—protected against chemotherapy-induced heart damage without interfering with the action of the chemotherapy.382

    A comprehensive review of antioxidants and chemotherapy leaves open the question of whether supplemental antioxidants definitely help people with chemotherapy side effects, but neither does it show that antioxidants should be avoided for fear that the actions of chemotherapy are interfered with.383 Although research remains incomplete, the idea that people taking chemotherapy should avoid antioxidants is not supported by scientific research.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Clozapine

    Clozapine can inhibit the formation of immune cells that protect the body from invading organisms. Test tube studies show that N-acetyl-cysteine and vitamin C block the formation of immune cell–damaging compounds produced when clozapine is broken down.384 Controlled studies are necessary to determine whether supplementing N-acetyl-cysteine and vitamin C might prevent harmful side effects in people taking clozapine.

  • Dapsone

    In large amounts, dapsone causes oxidative damage to red blood cells. This damage may be reduced by using lower amounts of dapsone. Fifteen people who took dapsone for dermatitis herpetiformis were given 800 IU of vitamin E per day for four weeks, followed by four weeks with 1,000 mg of vitamin C per day, followed by four weeks of vitamin E and vitamin C together.385 The authors reported only vitamin E therapy offered some protection against dapsone-induced hemolysis.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Doxorubicin

    The antioxidant vitamin C has protected against cardiotoxicity (damage to the heart) of doxorubicin in an animal study.402 In this trial, vitamin C significantly increased the life expectancy of mice and guinea pigs without interfering with anticancer action of the drug. Despite the lack of human data, some doctors recommend that patients taking doxorubicin supplement at least 1 gram of vitamin C per day.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Erlotinib

    Chemotherapy can injure cancer cells by creating oxidative damage. As a result, some oncologists recommend that patients avoid supplementing antioxidants if they are undergoing chemotherapy. Limited test tube research occasionally does support the idea that an antioxidant can interfere with oxidative damage to cancer cells.403 However, most scientific research does not support this supposition.

    A modified form of vitamin A has been reported to work synergistically with chemotherapy in test tube research.404 Vitamin C appears to increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy in animals405 and with human breast cancer cells in test tube research.406 In a double-blind study, Japanese researchers found that the combination of vitamin E , vitamin C, and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) —all antioxidants—protected against chemotherapy-induced heart damage without interfering with the action of the chemotherapy.407

    A comprehensive review of antioxidants and chemotherapy leaves open the question of whether supplemental antioxidants definitely help people with chemotherapy side effects, but neither does it show that antioxidants should be avoided for fear that the actions of chemotherapy are interfered with.408 Although research remains incomplete, the idea that people taking chemotherapy should avoid antioxidants is not supported by scientific research.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Fenofibrate

    Several studies have shown that fenofibrate enhances the toxic effect of ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun, which might result in side effects such as skin rashes. One controlled study showed that taking 2 grams of vitamin C and 1,000 IU of vitamin E prior to ultraviolet exposure dramatically blocked UV-fenofibrate damage to red blood cells.437 though further controlled studies are needed, people taking fenofibrate should probably supplement with vitamins C and E until more information is available.

  • Floxuridine

    Chemotherapy can injure cancer cells by creating oxidative damage. As a result, some oncologists recommend that patients avoid supplementing antioxidants if they are undergoing chemotherapy. Limited test tube research occasionally does support the idea that an antioxidant can interfere with oxidative damage to cancer cells.438 However, most scientific research does not support this supposition.

    A modified form of vitamin A has been reported to work synergistically with chemotherapy in test tube research.439 Vitamin C appears to increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy in animals440 and with human breast cancer cells in test tube research.441 In a double-blind study, Japanese researchers found that the combination of vitamin E , vitamin C, and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) —all antioxidants—protected against chemotherapy-induced heart damage without interfering with the action of the chemotherapy.442

    A comprehensive review of antioxidants and chemotherapy leaves open the question of whether supplemental antioxidants definitely help people with chemotherapy side effects, but neither does it show that antioxidants should be avoided for fear that the actions of chemotherapy are interfered with.443 Although research remains incomplete, the idea that people taking chemotherapy should avoid antioxidants is not supported by scientific research.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Fludarabine

    Chemotherapy can injure cancer cells by creating oxidative damage. As a result, some oncologists recommend that patients avoid supplementing antioxidants if they are undergoing chemotherapy. Limited test tube research occasionally does support the idea that an antioxidant can interfere with oxidative damage to cancer cells.444 However, most scientific research does not support this supposition.

    A modified form of vitamin A has been reported to work synergistically with chemotherapy in test tube research.445 Vitamin C appears to increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy in animals446 and with human breast cancer cells in test tube research.447 In a double-blind study, Japanese researchers found that the combination of vitamin E , vitamin C, and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) —all antioxidants—protected against chemotherapy-induced heart damage without interfering with the action of the chemotherapy.448

    A comprehensive review of antioxidants and chemotherapy leaves open the question of whether supplemental antioxidants definitely help people with chemotherapy side effects, but neither does it show that antioxidants should be avoided for fear that the actions of chemotherapy are interfered with.449 Although research remains incomplete, the idea that people taking chemotherapy should avoid antioxidants is not supported by scientific research.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Haloperidol

    In a preliminary trial, daily supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids (360 mg of eicosapentaenoic acid plus 240 mg of docosahexaenoic acid), 800 IU of vitamin E, and 1,000 mg of vitamin C for four months decreased the severity of abnormal movements (akathisia) caused by haloperidol.450

  • Ifosfamide

    Chemotherapy can injure cancer cells by creating oxidative damage. As a result, some oncologists recommend that patients avoid supplementing antioxidants if they are undergoing chemotherapy. Limited test tube research occasionally does support the idea that an antioxidant can interfere with oxidative damage to cancer cells.451 However, most scientific research does not support this supposition.

    A modified form of vitamin A has been reported to work synergistically with chemotherapy in test tube research.452 Vitamin C appears to increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy in animals453 and with human breast cancer cells in test tube research.454 In a double-blind study, Japanese researchers found that the combination of vitamin E , vitamin C, and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) —all antioxidants—protected against chemotherapy-induced heart damage without interfering with the action of the chemotherapy.455

    A comprehensive review of antioxidants and chemotherapy leaves open the question of whether supplemental antioxidants definitely help people with chemotherapy side effects, but neither does it show that antioxidants should be avoided for fear that the actions of chemotherapy are interfered with.456 Although research remains incomplete, the idea that people taking chemotherapy should avoid antioxidants is not supported by scientific research.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Irinotecan

    Chemotherapy can injure cancer cells by creating oxidative damage. As a result, some oncologists recommend that patients avoid supplementing antioxidants if they are undergoing chemotherapy. Limited test tube research occasionally does support the idea that an antioxidant can interfere with oxidative damage to cancer cells.460 However, most scientific research does not support this supposition.

    A modified form of vitamin A has been reported to work synergistically with chemotherapy in test tube research.461 Vitamin C appears to increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy in animals462 and with human breast cancer cells in test tube research.463 In a double-blind study, Japanese researchers found that the combination of vitamin E , vitamin C, and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) —all antioxidants—protected against chemotherapy-induced heart damage without interfering with the action of the chemotherapy.464

    A comprehensive review of antioxidants and chemotherapy leaves open the question of whether supplemental antioxidants definitely help people with chemotherapy side effects, but neither does it show that antioxidants should be avoided for fear that the actions of chemotherapy are interfered with.465 Although research remains incomplete, the idea that people taking chemotherapy should avoid antioxidants is not supported by scientific research.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Lomustine

    Chemotherapy can injure cancer cells by creating oxidative damage. As a result, some oncologists recommend that patients avoid supplementing antioxidants if they are undergoing chemotherapy. Limited test tube research occasionally does support the idea that an antioxidant can interfere with oxidative damage to cancer cells.480 However, most scientific research does not support this supposition.

    A modified form of vitamin A has been reported to work synergistically with chemotherapy in test tube research.481 Vitamin C appears to increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy in animals482 and with human breast cancer cells in test tube research.483 In a double-blind study, Japanese researchers found that the combination of vitamin E , vitamin C, and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) —all antioxidants—protected against chemotherapy-induced heart damage without interfering with the action of the chemotherapy.484

    A comprehensive review of antioxidants and chemotherapy leaves open the question of whether supplemental antioxidants definitely help people with chemotherapy side effects, but neither does it show that antioxidants should be avoided for fear that the actions of chemotherapy are interfered with.485 Although research remains incomplete, the idea that people taking chemotherapy should avoid antioxidants is not supported by scientific research.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Mechlorethamine

    Chemotherapy can injure cancer cells by creating oxidative damage. As a result, some oncologists recommend that patients avoid supplementing antioxidants if they are undergoing chemotherapy. Limited test tube research occasionally does support the idea that an antioxidant can interfere with oxidative damage to cancer cells.486 However, most scientific research does not support this supposition.

    A modified form of vitamin A has been reported to work synergistically with chemotherapy in test tube research.487 Vitamin C appears to increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy in animals488 and with human breast cancer cells in test tube research.489 In a double-blind study, Japanese researchers found that the combination of vitamin E , vitamin C, and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) —all antioxidants—protected against chemotherapy-induced heart damage without interfering with the action of the chemotherapy.490

    A comprehensive review of antioxidants and chemotherapy leaves open the question of whether supplemental antioxidants definitely help people with chemotherapy side effects, but neither does it show that antioxidants should be avoided for fear that the actions of chemotherapy are interfered with.491 Although research remains incomplete, the idea that people taking chemotherapy should avoid antioxidants is not supported by scientific research.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Melphalan

    Chemotherapy can injure cancer cells by creating oxidative damage. As a result, some oncologists recommend that patients avoid supplementing antioxidants if they are undergoing chemotherapy. Limited test tube research occasionally does support the idea that an antioxidant can interfere with oxidative damage to cancer cells.492 However, most scientific research does not support this supposition.

    A modified form of vitamin A has been reported to work synergistically with chemotherapy in test tube research.493 Vitamin C appears to increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy in animals494 and with human breast cancer cells in test tube research.495 In a double-blind study, Japanese researchers found that the combination of vitamin E , vitamin C, and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) —all antioxidants—protected against chemotherapy-induced heart damage without interfering with the action of the chemotherapy.496

    A comprehensive review of antioxidants and chemotherapy leaves open the question of whether supplemental antioxidants definitely help people with chemotherapy side effects, but neither does it show that antioxidants should be avoided for fear that the actions of chemotherapy are interfered with.497 Although research remains incomplete, the idea that people taking chemotherapy should avoid antioxidants is not supported by scientific research.

  • Mercaptopurine

    Chemotherapy can injure cancer cells by creating oxidative damage. As a result, some oncologists recommend that patients avoid supplementing antioxidants if they are undergoing chemotherapy. Limited test tube research occasionally does support the idea that an antioxidant can interfere with oxidative damage to cancer cells.498 However, most scientific research does not support this supposition.

    A modified form of vitamin A has been reported to work synergistically with chemotherapy in test tube research.499 Vitamin C appears to increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy in animals500 and with human breast cancer cells in test tube research.501 In a double-blind study, Japanese researchers found that the combination of vitamin E , vitamin C, and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) —all antioxidants—protected against chemotherapy-induced heart damage without interfering with the action of the chemotherapy.502

    A comprehensive review of antioxidants and chemotherapy leaves open the question of whether supplemental antioxidants definitely help people with chemotherapy side effects, but neither does it show that antioxidants should be avoided for fear that the actions of chemotherapy are interfered with.503 Although research remains incomplete, the idea that people taking chemotherapy should avoid antioxidants is not supported by scientific research.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Minocycline

    Tooth discoloration is a side effect of minocycline observed primarily in young children, but it may occur in adults as well. Vitamin C supplementation may prevent staining in adults taking minocycline.511

  • Polifeprosan 20 with Carmustine

    Chemotherapy can injure cancer cells by creating oxidative damage. As a result, some oncologists recommend that patients avoid supplementing antioxidants if they are undergoing chemotherapy. Limited test tube research occasionally does support the idea that an antioxidant can interfere with oxidative damage to cancer cells.522 However, most scientific research does not support this supposition.

    A modified form of vitamin A has been reported to work synergistically with chemotherapy in test tube research.523 Vitamin C appears to increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy in animals524 and with human breast cancer cells in test tube research.525 In a double-blind study, Japanese researchers found that the combination of vitamin E , vitamin C, and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) —all antioxidants—protected against chemotherapy-induced heart damage without interfering with the action of the chemotherapy.526

    A comprehensive review of antioxidants and chemotherapy leaves open the question of whether supplemental antioxidants definitely help people with chemotherapy side effects, but neither does it show that antioxidants should be avoided for fear that the actions of chemotherapy are interfered with.527 Although research remains incomplete, the idea that people taking chemotherapy should avoid antioxidants is not supported by scientific research.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Thioguanine

    Chemotherapy can injure cancer cells by creating oxidative damage. As a result, some oncologists recommend that patients avoid supplementing antioxidants if they are undergoing chemotherapy. Limited test tube research occasionally does support the idea that an antioxidant can interfere with oxidative damage to cancer cells.529 However, most scientific research does not support this supposition.

    A modified form of vitamin A has been reported to work synergistically with chemotherapy in test tube research.530 Vitamin C appears to increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy in animals531 and with human breast cancer cells in test tube research.532 In a double-blind study, Japanese researchers found that the combination of vitamin E , vitamin C, and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) —all antioxidants—protected against chemotherapy-induced heart damage without interfering with the action of the chemotherapy.533

    A comprehensive review of antioxidants and chemotherapy leaves open the question of whether supplemental antioxidants definitely help people with chemotherapy side effects, but neither does it show that antioxidants should be avoided for fear that the actions of chemotherapy are interfered with.534 Although research remains incomplete, the idea that people taking chemotherapy should avoid antioxidants is not supported by scientific research.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Thiotepa

    Chemotherapy can injure cancer cells by creating oxidative damage. As a result, some oncologists recommend that patients avoid supplementing antioxidants if they are undergoing chemotherapy. Limited test tube research occasionally does support the idea that an antioxidant can interfere with oxidative damage to cancer cells.535 However, most scientific research does not support this supposition.

    A modified form of vitamin A has been reported to work synergistically with chemotherapy in test tube research.536 Vitamin C appears to increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy in animals537 and with human breast cancer cells in test tube research.538 In a double-blind study, Japanese researchers found that the combination of vitamin E , vitamin C, and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) —all antioxidants—protected against chemotherapy-induced heart damage without interfering with the action of the chemotherapy.539

    A comprehensive review of antioxidants and chemotherapy leaves open the question of whether supplemental antioxidants definitely help people with chemotherapy side effects, but neither does it show that antioxidants should be avoided for fear that the actions of chemotherapy are interfered with.540 Although research remains incomplete, the idea that people taking chemotherapy should avoid antioxidants is not supported by scientific research.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Uracil Mustard

    Chemotherapy can injure cancer cells by creating oxidative damage. As a result, some oncologists recommend that patients avoid supplementing antioxidants if they are undergoing chemotherapy. Limited test tube research occasionally does support the idea that an antioxidant can interfere with oxidative damage to cancer cells.541 However, most scientific research does not support this supposition.

    A modified form of vitamin A has been reported to work synergistically with chemotherapy in test tube research.542 Vitamin C appears to increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy in animals543 and with human breast cancer cells in test tube research.544 In a double-blind study, Japanese researchers found that the combination of vitamin E , vitamin C, and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) —all antioxidants—protected against chemotherapy-induced heart damage without interfering with the action of the chemotherapy.545

    A comprehensive review of antioxidants and chemotherapy leaves open the question of whether supplemental antioxidants definitely help people with chemotherapy side effects, but neither does it show that antioxidants should be avoided for fear that the actions of chemotherapy are interfered with.546 Although research remains incomplete, the idea that people taking chemotherapy should avoid antioxidants is not supported by scientific research.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Vincristine

    Chemotherapy can injure cancer cells by creating oxidative damage. As a result, some oncologists recommend that patients avoid supplementing antioxidants if they are undergoing chemotherapy. Limited test tube research occasionally does support the idea that an antioxidant can interfere with oxidative damage to cancer cells.547 However, most scientific research does not support this supposition.

    A modified form of vitamin A has been reported to work synergistically with chemotherapy in test tube research.548 Vitamin C appears to increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy in animals549 and with human breast cancer cells in test tube research.550 In a double-blind study, Japanese researchers found that the combination of vitamin E , vitamin C, and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) —all antioxidants—protected against chemotherapy-induced heart damage without interfering with the action of the chemotherapy.551

    A comprehensive review of antioxidants and chemotherapy leaves open the question of whether supplemental antioxidants definitely help people with chemotherapy side effects, but neither does it show that antioxidants should be avoided for fear that the actions of chemotherapy are interfered with.552 Although research remains incomplete, the idea that people taking chemotherapy should avoid antioxidants is not supported by scientific research.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.

Support Medicine

  • Carbidopa

    A combination of levodopa/carbidopa and vitamin C may be useful for people with Parkinson’s disease whose motor complications are not effectively managed with conventional drug treatment. This combination was administered to people with Parkinson’s disease for 16.8 months in an unblinded, uncontrolled study.358 The researchers reported that participants who completed the study experienced substantial increases in the number of hours with good functional capacity and were able to reduce their intake of other anti-Parkinsonian drugs. However, 62% of the participants withdrew from the study, citing difficulty in performing voluntary movements as the main reason. Until more research is performed, this drug-nutrient combination must be viewed as preliminary.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Carbidopa-Levodopa

    Combining levodopa-carbidopa and vitamin C may be useful for people with Parkinson’s disease whose motor complications are not effectively managed with conventional drug treatment. This combination was administered to people with Parkinson’s disease in a preliminary study.359 The researchers reported several improvements in participants who completed the study; however, 62% of the participants withdrew from the study, most citing difficulty in performing normal movements. Until more research is performed, this drug-nutrient combination must be viewed as experimental.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Docetaxel

    Chemotherapy can injure cancer cells by creating oxidative damage. As a result, some oncologists recommend that patients avoid supplementing antioxidants if they are undergoing chemotherapy. Limited test tube research occasionally does support the idea that an antioxidant can interfere with oxidative damage to cancer cells.395 However, most scientific research does not support this supposition.

    A modified form of vitamin A has been reported to work synergistically with chemotherapy in test tube research.396 Vitamin C appears to increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy in animals397 and with human breast cancer cells in test tube research.398 In a double-blind study, Japanese researchers found that the combination of vitamin E , vitamin C, and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) —all antioxidants—protected against chemotherapy-induced heart damage without interfering with the action of the chemotherapy.399

    A comprehensive review of antioxidants and chemotherapy leaves open the question of whether supplemental antioxidants definitely help people with chemotherapy side effects, but it clearly shows that antioxidants need not be avoided for fear that the actions of chemotherapy are interfered with.400 Although research remains incomplete, the idea that people taking chemotherapy should avoid antioxidants is not supported by scientific research.

    A new formulation of selenium (Seleno-Kappacarrageenan) was found to reduce kidney damage and white blood cell–lowering effects of cisplatin in one human study. However, the level used in this study (4,000 mcg per day) is potentially toxic and should only be used under the supervision of a doctor.401

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Nitroglycerin

    Vitamin C may help maintain the blood vessel dilation response to nitroglycerin. A double-blind study found that individuals taking 2 grams of vitamin C three times per day did not tend to develop nitroglycerin tolerance over time compared to those taking placebo.512 In another controlled clinical trial, similar protection was achieved with 500 mg three times daily.513

    People using long-acting nitroglycerin can avoid tolerance with a ten- to twelve-hour hour nitroglycerin-free period every day. People taking long-acting nitroglycerin should ask their prescribing doctor or pharmacist about preventing nitroglycerin tolerance.

Reduces Effectiveness

  • none

Potential Negative Interaction

  • none

Explanation Required

  • Acetaminophen

    Taking 3 grams vitamin C with acetaminophen has been shown to prolong the amount of time acetaminophen stays in the body.553 This theoretically might allow people to use less acetaminophen, thereby reducing the risk of side effects. Consult with a doctor about this potential before reducing the amount of acetaminophen. However, increasing the time acetaminophen is in the body might also theoretically increase its toxicity. Consult with a doctor before taking vitamin C along with acetaminophen.554

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Capecitabine

    Chemotherapy can injure cancer cells by creating oxidative damage. As a result, some oncologists recommend that patients avoid supplementing antioxidants if they are undergoing chemotherapy. Limited test tube research occasionally does support the idea that an antioxidant can interfere with oxidative damage to cancer cells.555 However, most scientific research does not support this supposition.

    A modified form of vitamin A has been reported to work synergistically with chemotherapy in test tube research.556 Vitamin C appears to increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy in animals557 and with human breast cancer cells in test tube research.558 In a double-blind study, Japanese researchers found that the combination of vitamin E , vitamin C, and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) —all antioxidants—protected against chemotherapy-induced heart damage without interfering with the action of the chemotherapy.559

    A comprehensive review of antioxidants and chemotherapy leaves open the question of whether supplemental antioxidants definitely help people with chemotherapy side effects, but neither does it show that antioxidants should be avoided for fear that the actions of chemotherapy are interfered with.560 Although research remains incomplete, the idea that people taking chemotherapy should avoid antioxidants is not supported by scientific research.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Cisplatin

    Chemotherapy can injure cancer cells by creating oxidative damage. As a result, some oncologists recommend that patients avoid supplementing antioxidants if they are undergoing chemotherapy. Limited test tube research occasionally does support the idea that an antioxidant can interfere with oxidative damage to cancer cells.561 However, most scientific research does not support this supposition.

    A modified form of vitamin A has been reported to work synergistically with chemotherapy in test tube research.562 Vitamin C appears to increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy in animals563 and with human breast cancer cells in test tube research.564 In a double-blind study, Japanese researchers found that the combination of vitamin E , vitamin C, and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) —all antioxidants—protected against chemotherapy-induced heart damage without interfering with the action of the chemotherapy.565

    A comprehensive review of antioxidants and chemotherapy leaves open the question of whether supplemental antioxidants definitely help people with chemotherapy side effects, but neither does it show that antioxidants should be avoided for fear that the actions of chemotherapy are interfered with.566 Although research remains incomplete, the idea that people taking chemotherapy should avoid antioxidants is not supported by scientific research.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Cortisone

    Oral corticosteroids have been found to increase urinary loss of vitamin K , vitamin C , selenium , and zinc .567 , 568 The importance of these losses is unknown.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Cyclophosphamide

    Chemotherapy can injure cancer cells by creating oxidative damage. As a result, some oncologists recommend that patients avoid supplementing antioxidants if they are undergoing chemotherapy. Limited test tube research occasionally does support the idea that an antioxidant can interfere with oxidative damage to cancer cells.569 However, most scientific research does not support this supposition.

    Cyclophosphamide requires activation by the liver through a process called oxidation. In theory, antioxidant nutrients ( vitamin A , vitamin E , beta-carotene and others) might interfere with the activation of cyclophosphamide. There is no published research linking antioxidant vitamins to reduced cyclophosphamide effectiveness in cancer treatment. In a study of mice with vitamin A deficiency, vitamin A supplementation enhanced the anticancer action of cyclophosphamide.570 Another animal research report indicated that vitamin C may increase the effectiveness of cyclophosphamide without producing new side effects.571 Preliminary human research found that adding antioxidants (beta-carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin E) to cyclophosphamide therapy increased the survival of people with small-cell lung cancer treated with cyclophosphamide.572 It is too early to know if adding antioxidants to cyclophosphamide for cancer treatment is better than cyclophosphamide alone. Vitamin A can be toxic in high amounts.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Cytarabine

    Chemotherapy can injure cancer cells by creating oxidative damage. As a result, some oncologists recommend that patients avoid supplementing antioxidants if they are undergoing chemotherapy. Limited test tube research occasionally does support the idea that an antioxidant can interfere with oxidative damage to cancer cells.573 However, most scientific research does not support this supposition.

    A modified form of vitamin A has been reported to work synergistically with chemotherapy in test tube research.574 Vitamin C appears to increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy in animals575 and with human breast cancer cells in test tube research.576 In a double-blind study, Japanese researchers found that the combination of vitamin E , vitamin C, and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) —all antioxidants—protected against chemotherapy-induced heart damage without interfering with the action of the chemotherapy.577

    A comprehensive review of antioxidants and chemotherapy leaves open the question of whether supplemental antioxidants definitely help people with chemotherapy side effects, but neither does it show that antioxidants should be avoided for fear that the actions of chemotherapy are interfered with.578 Although research remains incomplete, the idea that people taking chemotherapy should avoid antioxidants is not supported by scientific research.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Epinephrine

    Intravenous administration of epinephrine to human volunteers reduced plasma concentrations of vitamin C .579 Epinephrine and other “stress hormones” may reduce intracellular concentrations of potassium and magnesium .580 Although there are no clinical studies in humans, it seems reasonable that individuals using epinephrine should consume a diet high in vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium, or should consider supplementing with these nutrients.

  • Etoposide

    Chemotherapy can injure cancer cells by creating oxidative damage. As a result, some oncologists recommend that patients avoid supplementing antioxidants if they are undergoing chemotherapy. Limited test tube research occasionally does support the idea that an antioxidant can interfere with oxidative damage to cancer cells.582 However, most scientific research does not support this supposition.

    A modified form of vitamin A has been reported to work synergistically with chemotherapy in test tube research.583 Vitamin C appears to increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy in animals584 and with human breast cancer cells in test tube research.585 In a double-blind study, Japanese researchers found that the combination of vitamin E , vitamin C, and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) —all antioxidants—protected against chemotherapy-induced heart damage without interfering with the action of the chemotherapy.586

    A comprehensive review of antioxidants and chemotherapy leaves open the question of whether supplemental antioxidants definitely help people with chemotherapy side effects, but neither does it show that antioxidants should be avoided for fear that the actions of chemotherapy are interfered with.587 Although research remains incomplete, the idea that people taking chemotherapy should avoid antioxidants is not supported by scientific research.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Fluorouracil

    Chemotherapy can injure cancer cells by creating oxidative damage. As a result, some oncologists recommend that patients avoid supplementing antioxidants if they are undergoing chemotherapy. Limited test tube research occasionally does support the idea that an antioxidant can interfere with oxidative damage to cancer cells.596 However, most scientific research does not support this supposition.

    A modified form of vitamin A has been reported to work synergistically with chemotherapy in test tube research.597 Vitamin C appears to increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy in animals598 and with human breast cancer cells in test tube research.599 In a double-blind study, Japanese researchers found that the combination of vitamin E , vitamin C, and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) —all antioxidants—protected against chemotherapy-induced heart damage without interfering with the action of the chemotherapy.600

    A comprehensive review of antioxidants and chemotherapy leaves open the question of whether supplemental antioxidants definitely help people with chemotherapy side effects, but the article strongly suggests that antioxidants need not be avoided for fear that the actions of chemotherapy would be interfered with.601

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Hydrocodone-Acetaminophen

    Taking 3 grams vitamin C with acetaminophen has been shown to prolong the amount of time acetaminophen stays in the body.602 This theoretically might allow people to use less acetaminophen, thereby reducing the risk of side effects. Consult with a doctor about this potential before reducing the amount of acetaminophen. However, increasing the time acetaminophen is in the body might also theoretically increase its toxicity. Consult with a doctor before taking vitamin C along with acetaminophen.603

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Hydroxyurea

    Chemotherapy can injure cancer cells by creating oxidative damage. As a result, some oncologists recommend that patients avoid supplementing antioxidants if they are undergoing chemotherapy. Limited test tube research occasionally does support the idea that an antioxidant can interfere with oxidative damage to cancer cells.604 However, most scientific research does not support this supposition.

    A modified form of vitamin A has been reported to work synergistically with chemotherapy in test tube research.605 Vitamin C appears to increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy in animals606 and with human breast cancer cells in test tube research.607 In a double-blind study, Japanese researchers found that the combination of vitamin E , vitamin C, and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) —all antioxidants—protected against chemotherapy-induced heart damage without interfering with the action of the chemotherapy.608

    A comprehensive review of antioxidants and chemotherapy leaves open the question of whether supplemental antioxidants definitely help people with chemotherapy side effects, but neither does it show that antioxidants should be avoided for fear that the actions of chemotherapy are interfered with.609 Although research remains incomplete, the idea that people taking chemotherapy should avoid antioxidants is not supported by scientific research.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Irinotecan

    The chemotherapy drug cisplatin may cause kidney damage, resulting in depletion of calcium and phosphate.610

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Isosorbide Mononitrate

    Some persons taking nitroglycerin or isosorbide mononitrate may find that it loses efficacy over time. This is because the body adapts to the drug, a process known as developing tolerance. One study found that taking 2 grams three times daily of vitamin C can decrease this effect when nitroglycerin patches are simultaneously used.611 Similar benefits have been confirmed in another study.612 However, it should be noted that it is also possible to avoid tolerance to these drugs by simply changing the dosing schedule. People taking ISMN or nitroglycerin should talk with their pharmacists about avoiding drug tolerance.

  • Methotrexate

    Chemotherapy can injure cancer cells by creating oxidative damage. As a result, some oncologists recommend that patients avoid supplementing antioxidants if they are undergoing chemotherapy. Limited test tube research occasionally does support the idea that an antioxidant can interfere with oxidative damage to cancer cells.613 However, most scientific research does not support this supposition.

    A modified form of vitamin A has been reported to work synergistically with chemotherapy in test tube research.614 Vitamin C appears to increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy in animals615 and with human breast cancer cells in test tube research.616 In a double-blind study, Japanese researchers found that the combination of vitamin E , vitamin C, and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) —all antioxidants—protected against chemotherapy-induced heart damage without interfering with the action of the chemotherapy.617

    A comprehensive review of antioxidants and chemotherapy leaves open the question of whether supplemental antioxidants definitely help people with chemotherapy side effects, but it clearly shows that antioxidants need not be avoided for fear that the actions of chemotherapy are interfered with.618 Although research remains incomplete, the idea that people taking chemotherapy should avoid antioxidants is not supported by scientific research.

    A new formulation of selenium (Seleno-Kappacarrageenan) was found to reduce kidney damage and white blood cell–lowering effects of cisplatin in one human study. However, the level used in this study (4,000 mcg per day) is potentially toxic and should only be used under the supervision of a doctor.619

    Glutathione , the main antioxidant found within cells, is frequently depleted in individuals on chemotherapy and/or radiation. Preliminary studies have found that IV glutathione may decrease some of the adverse effects of chemotherapy and radiation, such as diarrhea .620

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Methylprednisolone

    Oral corticosteroids have been found to increase urinary loss of vitamin K , vitamin C , selenium , and zinc .621 , 622 The importance of these losses is unknown.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Paclitaxel

    Chemotherapy can injure cancer cells by creating oxidative damage. As a result, some oncologists recommend that patients avoid supplementing antioxidants if they are undergoing chemotherapy. Limited test tube research occasionally does support the idea that an antioxidant can interfere with oxidative damage to cancer cells.623 However, most scientific research does not support this supposition.

    A modified form of vitamin A has been reported to work synergistically with chemotherapy in test tube research.624 Vitamin C appears to increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy in animals625 and with human breast cancer cells in test tube research.626 In a double-blind study, Japanese researchers found that the combination of vitamin E , vitamin C, and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) —all antioxidants—protected against chemotherapy-induced heart damage without interfering with the action of the chemotherapy.627

    A comprehensive review of antioxidants and chemotherapy leaves open the question of whether supplemental antioxidants definitely help people with chemotherapy side effects, but the article strongly suggests that antioxidants need not be avoided for fear that the actions of chemotherapy would be interfered with.628

    A new formulation of selenium (Seleno-Kappacarrageenan) was found to reduce kidney damage and white blood cell–lowering effects of cisplatin in one human study. However, the level used in this study (4,000 mcg per day) is potentially toxic and should only be used under the supervision of a doctor.629

    Glutathione , the main antioxidant found within cells, is frequently depleted in individuals on chemotherapy and/or radiation. Preliminary studies have found that intravenously injected glutathione may decrease some of the adverse effects of chemotherapy and radiation, such as diarrhea .630

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Perphenazine

    Taking phenothiazine drugs can stop menstruation in some women. Two women taking phenothiazines similar to perphenazine began menstruating following supplementation with 6 grams of vitamin C each day.631 Controlled studies are needed to determine whether vitamin C supplementation might benefit women specifically taking perphenazine who are experiencing menstrual changes. Some health practitioners recommend vitamin C supplementation to women who stop menstruating while taking perphenazine. Vitamin C might also enhance the effectiveness of neuroleptic drugs such as perphenazine in the treatment of schizophrenia . One uncontrolled study showed that 10 of 13 individuals experienced a reduction in disorganized thoughts, hallucinations, and suspicious thoughts when 8 grams of vitamin C was added to their daily drug therapy.632 Controlled studies are needed to show whether people taking perphenazine for schizophrenia might benefit from vitamin C supplementation.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Prednisolone

    Oral corticosteroids have been found to increase urinary loss of vitamin K , vitamin C , selenium , and zinc .633 , 634 The importance of these losses is unknown.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Prednisone

    Oral corticosteroids have been found to increase urinary loss of vitamin K , vitamin C , selenium , and zinc .635 , 636 The importance of these losses is unknown.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Thioridazine

    Taking phenothiazine drugs can stop menstruation in some women. A 45-year-old woman taking thioridazine started menstruating once she began supplementing with 6 grams of vitamin C daily.637 Controlled studies are needed to determine whether women taking thioridazine, who are experiencing menstrual changes, might benefit from supplemental vitamin C. Vitamin C might also enhance the effectiveness of neuroleptic drugs, such as thioridazine, in the treatment of schizophrenia . One uncontrolled study showed that 10 of 13 individuals experienced a reduction in disorganized thoughts, hallucinations, and suspicious thoughts when 8 grams of vitamin C was added to their daily drug therapy.638 Controlled studies are needed to determine whether people taking thioridazine for schizophrenia might benefit from vitamin C supplementation.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Vinblastine

    Chemotherapy can injure cancer cells by creating oxidative damage. As a result, some oncologists recommend that patients avoid supplementing antioxidants if they are undergoing chemotherapy. Limited test tube research occasionally does support the idea that an antioxidant can interfere with oxidative damage to cancer cells.639 However, most scientific research does not support this supposition.

    A modified form of vitamin A has been reported to work synergistically with chemotherapy in test tube research.640 Vitamin C appears to increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy in animals641 and with human breast cancer cells in test tube research.642 In a double-blind study, Japanese researchers found that the combination of vitamin E , vitamin C, and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) —all antioxidants—protected against chemotherapy-induced heart damage without interfering with the action of the chemotherapy.643

    A comprehensive review of antioxidants and chemotherapy leaves open the question of whether supplemental antioxidants definitely help people with chemotherapy side effects, but neither does it show that antioxidants should be avoided for fear that the actions of chemotherapy are interfered with.644 Although research remains incomplete, the idea that people taking chemotherapy should avoid antioxidants is not supported by scientific research.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Warfarin

    Although case reports have suggested that vitamin C might increase the activity of anticoagulants in a potentially dangerous way, this interaction has not been confirmed in research studies.645 In fact, a possible interference by vitamin C with the effect of anticoagulants has also been reported.646 A 52-year-old woman maintained on 7.5 mg of warfarin per day had a shortening of the blood clotting time which was not corrected by increasing warfarin up to 20 mg per day. Further questioning revealed she had begun taking an unspecified amount of vitamin C each morning. After stopping vitamin C, the blood clotting time returned to desired levels. Based on this and other case reports, people taking warfarin should consult with their physician before taking vitamin C supplements.

The Drug-Nutrient Interactions table may not include every possible interaction. Taking medicines with meals, on an empty stomach, or with alcohol may influence their effects. For details, refer to the manufacturers’ package information as these are not covered in this table. If you take medications, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.

Side Effects

Side Effects

Caution: People with the following conditions should consult their doctor before supplementing with vitamin C: glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency, iron overload (hemosiderosis or hemochromatosis), history of kidney stones, or kidney failure.

Some people develop diarrhea after as little as a few grams of vitamin C per day, while others are not bothered by ten times this amount. Strong scientific evidence to define and defend an upper tolerable limit for vitamin C is not available. A review of the available research concluded that high intakes (2–4 grams per day) are well-tolerated by healthy people.647

It is widely (and mistakenly) believed that mothers who consume large amounts of vitamin C during pregnancy are at risk of giving birth to an infant with a higher-than-normal requirement for the vitamin. The concern is that the infant could suffer “rebound scurvy,” a vitamin C deficiency caused by not having this increased need met. Even some medical textbooks have subscribed to this theory.648 In fact, however, the concept of “rebound scurvy” in infants is supported by extremely weak evidence.649 Since the publication in 1965 of the report upon which this mistaken notion is based, millions of women have consumed high amounts of vitamin C during pregnancy and not a single new case of rebound scurvy has been reported.650

A preliminary study found that people who took 500 mg per day of vitamin C supplements for one year had a greater increase in wall thickness of the carotid arteries (vessels in the neck that supply blood to the brain) than those who did not take vitamin C.651 Thickness of carotid artery walls is an indicator of progression of atherosclerosis . Currently, no evidence supports a cause-and-effect relationship for the outcome reported in this study. The vast preponderance of research suggests either a protective or therapeutic effect of vitamin C for heart disease , or no effect at all.

It has been suggested that people who form calcium oxalate kidney stones should avoid vitamin C supplements, because vitamin C can be converted into oxalate and increase urinary oxalate.652 , 653 Initially, these concerns were questioned because of potential errors in the laboratory measurement of oxalate.654 , 655 However, using newer methodology that rules out this problem, recent evidence shows that as little as 1 gram of vitamin C per day can increase the urinary oxalate levels in some people, even those without a history of kidney stones.656 , 657 In one case, 8 grams per day of vitamin C led to dramatic increases in urinary oxalate excretion and kidney stone crystal formation causing bloody urine.658 People with a history of kidney stones should consult a doctor before taking large amounts (1 gram or more per day) of supplemental vitamin C.

Despite possible therapeutic effects of vitamin C in people with diabetes at lower intakes, one case of increased blood sugar levels was reported after taking 4.5 grams per day.659

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