Plasma C-reactive protein (CRP) is an inflammatory biomarker that predicts cardiovascular disease. Lowering elevated CRP with statins has reduced the incidence of cardiovascular disease. We investigated whether vitamin C or E could reduce CRP. Healthy nonsmokers (N=396) were randomized to three groups, 1000 mg/day vitamin C, 800 IU/day vitamin E, or placebo, for 2 months. Median baseline CRP was low, 0.85 mg/L. No treatment effect was seen when all participants were included. However, a significant interaction was found, indicating that treatment effect depends on baseline CRP concentration. Among participants with CRP indicative of elevated cardiovascular risk (>/=1.0 mg/L), vitamin C reduced the median CRP by 25.3% vs placebo (p=0.02) (median reduction in the vitamin C group, 0.25 mg/L, 16.7%). These effects are similar to those of statins. The vitamin E effect was not significant. In summary, treatment with vitamin C but not vitamin E significantly reduced CRP among individuals with CRP >/=1.0 mg/L. Among the obese, 75% had CRP >/=1.0 mg/L. Research is needed to determine whether reducing this inflammatory biomarker with vitamin C could reduce diseases associated with obesity. But research on clinical benefits of antioxidants should limit participants to persons with elevations in the target biomarkers.
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. 2008 October Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061-0430, USA.