NMU 08 – Vitamin C Supplementation (1,000 mg per day) Reduces Blood Lead Levels in Adult Male Smokers
Nutrition / Natural Medicine Update No. 8 (May 3, 2016)
with Dr. James Meschino
Research Topic: Vitamin C Supplementation (1,000 mg per day) Reduces Blood Lead Levels in Adult Male Smokers
Source: Journal of the American College of Nutrition (2013)
This study showed that taking 1,000 mg per day of vitamin C reduced blood lead levels by 81%. The study involved 75 adult men (20 to 30 years of age), who smoked one pack of cigarettes per day (minimum) and had no clinical signs of vitamin C deficiency or lead toxicity. Although we know that cigarette smoke contains a fair bit of lead, none of these men had blood a lead level below 1.45 μmol/L, the minimum blood level associated with lead toxicity symptoms. The men were randomly assigned to three study groups of 25. One group took 1,000 mg per day of vitamin C as a supplement. One group took 200 mg per day of vitamin C as a supplement, and one group took the placebo (no vitamin C at all). Researchers measured blood and urine vitamin C and lead levels at the beginning of the study and each week for 4 consecutive weeks.
The group supplementing with 1,000 mg of vitamin C showed an increase in blood vitamin C levels and an 81% decrease in blood lead levels. In fact the 81% reduction occurred after the just the first week of vitamin C supplementation – very impressive. The group supplementing with 200 mg of vitamin C showed no change in blood vitamin C or lead levels. The placebo group also showed no change in blood vitamin C or lead levels.
The Global Lead Advice and Support Service has published data showing that the key nutrients that appear to reduce blood lead levels in the body are:
- Vitamin C,
- And, to a lesser degree, zinc and phosphorus.
These nutrients reduce lead absorption by competing with lead for absorption into the body. But vitamin C also increases lead excretion from the body, which may explain why it was able to reduce blood levels by 81% in just the first week of supplementation.
To reduce blood lead levels:
- Vitamin C,
- Vitamin E,
- Thiamine (B1),
- Folate Acid (B9),
- And iron – have the strongest and most consistent effects.
Lead in the body is distributed to the brain, liver, kidney, bones and teeth. Human exposure is usually assessed through the measurement of blood lead levels. No one is walking around with a blood lead level of zero and no level of lead is completely safe, so the lower the blood lead level the better.
Lifetime accumulation of lead in the body can cause:
- Decline in kidney function.
- High Blood Pressure.
- Low Sperm Count in men and decreased fertility.
- It may contribute to development of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s Disease and Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Of course, high lead exposure in children can have devastating effects on brain development and the nervous system, in general. But today we’re talking only about reducing lead levels in adults.
I have included the scientific references in the text below.
Main Research Article:
1. Dawson, E.B., Evans, D.R., Harris, W.A., Teter, M.C., and McGuinty, W.J. The effect of ascorbic acid supplementation on the blood lead levels of smokers. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, Vol. 18, issue 2. Published online, June 7, 2013. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10204833
Negative Health Effects of Lead
Global Lead Advice Support Service:
Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease:
Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great.
Dr. James Meschino