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, 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, “[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.
- 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.
- 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.