It may not be a coincidence that its name begins with the same letter as calcium. A recent study on this crucial vitamin, typically recognized as an immune system builder and scurvy’s worst foe, has confirmed that it plays a pivotal role in bone health.
The study was published in The Journal of Biological Chemistry. It clearly demonstrates that when Vitamin C or ascorbic acid is present in greater concentrations than just the minimum dosage to prevent scurvy, it promotes higher bone mass and lowers fracture rates.1
This happens because Vitamin C suppresses osteoclasts (bone-destroying cells) while it also stimulates the production of osteoblasts (bone-building cells). Thanks to this balanced process, Vitamin C promotes healthy and constant bone renewal, critical to preventing fractures.
Let’s keep in mind that most osteoporosis drugs, including the widely prescribed bisphosphonates, only manage to suppress osteoclasts. They don’t stimulate osteoblasts which means that they don’t promote new bone growth. Clearly, osteoporosis drugs cannot compete with Vitamin C’s dual action on bone renewal!
Good Findings, No Big Surprise
Vitamin C’s direct role in bone health has unfortunately not yet stirred up the mainstream medical community, which still continues to ignore it as a crucial micronutrient for bone health. Chances are that your doctor never mentioned to you the importance of getting enough Vitamin C for your bones.
The same cannot be said about the Save Our Bones community. From the get-go, the Osteoporosis Reversal Program includes Vitamin C as one of the Foundation Supplements. Plus I write in the Program that the current Recommended Daily Allowance of 60 mg is much too low to support bone health.
I‘ll discuss dosage in more detail a little later, because first, I’d like to give you a quick snapshot of Vitamin C’s function as…
Your Powerful Bone-Building Ally
While most mammals and practically all animals synthesize their own Vitamin C, humans don’t. We can only get it from foods and supplements.
In the Osteoporosis Reversal Program I explain the mechanism by which Vitamin C helps build bones and prevent fractures as follows:
“Without Vitamin C, collagen is insufficiently hydroxylated and therefore, it can’t be formed properly. Since osteoblasts manufacture collagen to bind the bone matrix cells together by forming hydroxyapatite, Vitamin C plays an important role in bone health.”
How Much Should I Take?
In the Osteoporosis Reversal Program I recommend taking a minimum of 500 mg a day of Vitamin C, either ascorbic acid, sodium ascorbate, or the ascorbate bound to other minerals. I also encourage you to eat plenty of foods that contain it. They are all listed under the Foundation Foods, and include common staples such as oranges, tangerines, pineapple, cantaloupe, broccoli, cauliflower and many more.
What is important to understand here is that 500 mg is the minimum amount. Vitamin C is water-soluble, which means that the body gets rid of it quickly and efficiently. Therefore, in the Osteoporosis Reversal Program I assert that, “…it is better to err on the high side.”
And the study researchers agree on this – albeit a few years later – and write that,
“While current recommendations may be valid for the prevention of scurvy, they are not necessarily appropriate for the prevention of osteoporosis.”1
The maximum? It can be as high as 2,000 mg, the Tolerable Upper Limit recommendation, which was set as the level where a supplement is typically free of side-effects for almost everyone. Just make sure you don’t take it all at once.
In addition to your regular daily Vitamin C intake, there are times when you should consider taking extra to boost your immune system and to reduce inflammation and speed up healing . Here’s a short list to keep in mind:
- When you need to spend time in a hospital, either for a procedure or to visit a friend or loved one.
- Before major dental work, such as an extraction, root canal, etc.
- If you’ll be spending many hours on an airplane.
- If someone in your household has the flu or other contagious condition.
And remember, “C’s” the day!
Till next time,
1 Gabbay K. H. et al. “The Ascorbate Synthesis Pathway: Dual Role of Ascorbate in Bone Homeostasis.” The Journal of Biological Chemistry. April 21, 2010.