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Can Vitamin C Supplements Help with Lead Poisoning?

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“Even if a nutritional manipulation is proven effective in reducing blood lead levels, reliance on such an intervention places most of the burden for prevention on those most affected and least responsible for the underlying environmental causes of lead toxicity. Nutritional interventions, therefore, must never substitute for efforts to reduce lead exposure to safe levels. On the other hand, when used as an adjunct to environmental measures, some nutritional changes may prove to have benefits beyond any impact on lead toxicity.” For example, consumption of vitamin C-rich foods might help with “blood pressure, blood lipid profiles, and respiratory symptoms,” in addition to perhaps influencing “lead toxicity through an influence on absorption of lead, elimination of lead, transport within the body, tissue binding, or secondary mechanisms of toxicity,” that is, even simply serving to ameliorate a few of the injury. But what is that this based mostly on?

In 1939, a exceptional research was revealed, entitled “Vitamin C treatment in lead poisoning,” during which 17 lead business staff got 100 mg of vitamin C a day, the amount found in one or two oranges, and “with practically all of them there was a marked gain in vigor, color of skin, cheerfulness, blood picture, appetite and ability to sleep well.” The 17 staff have been chosen as a result of they appeared to be in fairly dangerous shape and probably even had scurvy, so it’s no marvel somewhat vitamin C helped. But vitamin C is an antioxidant, and oxidation is “an important mechanism underlying lead toxicity,” so it’s conceivable that it might have mediated a number of the harm. But, the vitamin C didn’t appear to only scale back the injury from the lead—it also decreased the lead itself. As you’ll be able to see from 1:43 in my video Can Vitamin C Help with Lead Poisoning?, the amount of lead in a painter’s urine over a period of a month after starting 200 mg of vitamin C a day exhibited a five-fold drop, suggesting he was absorbing less of the lead into his physique. He was considered one of three painters researchers tried this on, and evidently all three painters’ levels dropped. The researchers concluded that those “exposed to lead…should be advised to include in their diet plenty of such rich sources of vitamin C as tomatoes (fresh or canned), raw cabbage, oranges or grapefruit, raw spinach (or even cooked, in very little water), raw turnips, green bell peppers, cantaloupe, etc.”

Now, this drop in lead in the topics’ urine was seen with solely three painters, and the research didn’t have a control group of painters who didn’t take vitamin C, so maybe everyone’s lead ranges would have dropped for another purpose or maybe it was only a coincidence. You don’t know…until you set it to the check.

Those unique knowledge have been so compelling that others have been inspired to attempt to replicate them. I imply, if it truly worked, if vitamin C might assist with lead poisoning, grapefruits could possibly be handed out at the manufacturing unit door! The earlier research didn’t have a very good control group, however the researchers weren’t going to make that very same mistake this time. In this research, half of the group acquired 100 mg of vitamin C a day—not just for a month but for a yr—and the other group acquired nothing. The outcome? “Careful research of a giant group of lead staff failed to disclose any effect of ascorbic acid vitamin C…on the lead focus in the blood…or urine” (emphasis added). There was no distinction of their bodily condition and no modifications in their blood work, so “no reason has been found for recommending the use of ascorbic acid vitamin C to minimize effects of lead absorption.” What a disappointment. It appeared so promising!

Whenever I research a topic, I attempt to learn the research chronologically so I can expertise the discoveries as they occurred all through history. At this point, although, I was so tempted to leap to a current evaluation to see what had occurred in the intervening 74 years since that first research was revealed, however I didn’t need to spoiler alert! myself, so I stored reading the papers sequentially. There have been in vitro studies the place researchers dripped antioxidants on lead uncovered cells and it seemed to help, in order that they jumped on the cantaloupe bandwagon, too, but these have been check tube research.

The first population research was revealed in 1999, and, as you possibly can see at 4:02 in my video, researchers did discover that those with high vitamin C levels in their blood tended to have decrease lead levels. Youths with the very best vitamin C levels had an almost 90 % decrease prevalence of elevated blood lead ranges in comparison with these with the lowest vitamin C levels. Now, this was a cross-sectional research, only a snapshot in time, so we don’t know if the vitamin C brought on a drop in lead or if maybe the lead brought on a drop in vitamin C. Lead is a pro-oxidant, so perhaps it ate up the vitamin C. And who has larger vitamin C ranges? Those who can afford to have larger vitamin C levels and eat a lot of vegatables and fruits. “It is also possible that higher ascorbic acid levels may represent healthier lifestyles or greater socio-economic status.” Indeed, perhaps decrease vitamin C ranges are only a proxy for being poor, and that’s the actual cause for greater lead levels.

There are numerous good causes to be eating extra vegatables and fruits, and we must be eating extra spinach regardless, however it might be nice to know if vitamin C truly helps with lead poisoning. And, to know that, we have to put it to the check.

Unfortunately, a lot of the revealed interventions aren’t very helpful, with such titles as “Effects of dietary vitamin C supplementation on lead-treated sea cucumbers,….”  And, there’s a shocking number of articles on the consequences of vitamin C supplementation on mouse testicles. Why? Because lead might impair male fertility. Indeed, lead staff seem to have a lowered probability of fathering youngsters, however this will partially be as a result of oxidative stress. In that case, how about giving an antioxidant, like vitamin C, and putting it to the check(es)? No, I’m not speaking about rat testes or suggesting frog testes. Neither am I proposing crab testes. (I didn’t even know crabs had testicles!) Finally, here’s one to discuss: “Clinical relevance of vitamin C among lead-exposed infertile men.” A research of human men, which I will cowl in Yellow Bell Peppers for Male Infertility and Lead Poisoning?.

I’m all the time conflicted about writing these kinds of blogs and producing movies like Can Vitamin C Help with Lead Poisoning?. I can think about some simply need “the answer,” but these with vested and business interests typically exploit that pure impulse. This is drawback with science generally, however maybe notably in nutrition. When it comes to one thing as life-or-death necessary as what to feed ourselves and our households we shouldn’t simply comply with someone’s opinions or beliefs on the matter. We should demand to see the science. That’s what I try to do: Present the obtainable knowledge as fairly and even-handedly as attainable, and let you make up your personal thoughts. You can think about how simply somebody might cherry-pick only one or two research and present a distorted however compelling case for or towards, in this case, vitamin C supplements. That’s why I really feel it’s essential to present each research of their historic context. Stay tuned for the thrilling conclusion in Yellow Bell Peppers for Male Infertility & Lead Poisoning?.


 For those of you who are considering, Why should I care about lead? I don’t eat paint chips or use leaded gasoline. Anyway, what’s the large deal?, take a look at my full collection of lead movies for info on how we acquired into this mess and a number of the methods we will dig ourselves out:

  • How the Lead Paint Industry Got Away with It
  • Lead in Drinking Water
  • How the Leaded Gas Industry Got Away with It
  • “Normal” Blood Lead Levels Can Be Toxic
  • The Effects of Low-Level Lead Exposure in Adults
  • How to Lower Lead Levels with Diet: Thiamine, Fiber, Iron, Fat, Fasting?
  • How to Lower Lead Levels with Diet: Breakfast, Whole Grains, Milk, Tofu?
  • Best Foods for Lead Poisoning: Chlorella, Cilantro, Tomatoes, Moringa?
  • Best Food for Lead Poisoning: Garlic
  • Is Lipstick Safe Given the Lead Contamination?
  • Can Saunas Detoxify Lead from the Body?
  • How Much Lead Is in Organic Chicken Soup (Bone Broth)?
  • Lead in Calcium Supplements
  • Should Pregnant Women Take Calcium Supplements to Lower Lead Levels?
  • The Rise in Blood Lead Levels at Pregnancy and Menopause
  • Lead Contamination in Fish and Game
  • Lead Contamination in Hot Sauces

In health,

Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you possibly can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my reside shows:




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