Lowering High CRP levels with Vitamin C

Q A recent blood analysis has found that my CRP levels, a measure of inflammation, are too high (3.3 mg/L). What can I do to lower these levels?

SARAH, Helena, MT

A According to Quest Diagnostics, average levels of CRP (C-reactive protein) are between 1.0 and 3.0 mg/L with high levels 3.1-10.0 mg/L. We believe anything over 1.0 can be problematic.

In the recent study,1 researchers examined the effects of vitamin E or vitamin C for two months on CRP levels in 396 healthy nonsmokers. While vitamin E had no effect, vitamin C at 1000 mg/day reduced the median CRP by 25.3% (as compared to placebo) but only in those participants with elevated CRP (≥1.0 mg/L). This level translates to an elevated cardiovascular disease risk. Yet in the final analysis, there was no vitamin C effect on CRP seen. That’s because the median baseline CRP was only 0.85 mg/L and no significant treatment effect was seen in those with CRP <1.0 mg/L.

Consequently, vitamin C can lower CRP levels if they are higher than 1 mg/L, which yours are. So if vitamin C lowers your CRP by 25%, your levels would be just under 2.5 mg/L, still too high. But lower is better.

As another recent study had found,2 “[p]eople who are socially integrated or have larger social networks have been found to have lower IL-6 and C-reactive protein (CRP), a byproduct of IL-6 activity.” On the contrary, the researchers findings suggest that daily social interactions that are negative and competitive are associated prospectively with heightened proinflammatory cytokine activity.

References

  1. Block G, Jensen CD, Dalvi TB, Norkus EP, Hudes M, Crawford PB, Holland N, Fung EB, Schumacher L, Harmatz P. Vitamin C treatment reduces elevated C-reactive protein. Free Radic Biol Med 2009 Jan 1;46(1):70-7.
  2. Chiang JJ, Eisenberger NI, Seeman TE, Taylor SE. Negative and competitive social interactions are related to heightened proinflammatory cytokine activity. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2012 Feb 7;109(6):1878-82.

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