Do You Have Metabolic Syndrome? Study Says Take Vitamin C!


Metabolic Syndrome Destroys Antioxidants


A higher intake of vitamin C is crucial for metabolic syndrome patients trying to halt a potentially deadly cycle of antioxidant disruption and health-related problems, an Oregon State University researcher says.

That’s important news for the estimated 35 percent of the U.S. adult population that suffers from metabolic syndrome, also known as Syndrome ‘X’.


Metabolic Syndrome: A Serious Health Issue


A diet high in saturated fat results in chronic low-grade inflammation in the body that in turn leads to the development of metabolic syndrome, a serious condition associated with cognitive dysfunction and dementia as well as being a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, fatty liver disease and type 2 diabetes.


A patient is considered to have metabolic syndrome if he or she has at least three of the following conditions: abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, low levels of “good” cholesterol, and high levels of triglycerides.



Altered Gut Microbiome


Gut flora, or gut microbiota, or gastrointestinal microbiota, is the complex community of microorganisms that live in the digestive tract.


Findings published in Redox Biology suggest the type of eating that leads to metabolic syndrome can prompt imbalances in the gut microbiome, with impaired gut function contributing to toxins in the bloodstream, resulting in vitamin C depletion, which subsequently impairs the trafficking of vitamin E.

It’s a treadmill of antioxidant disruption that serves to make a bad situation worse; antioxidants such as vitamins C and E offer defense against the oxidative stress brought on by inflammation and the associated free radicals, unstable molecules that can damage the body’s cells.

“Vitamin C actually protects vitamin E, so when you have lipid peroxidation¹, vitamin E is used up and vitamin C can regenerate it,” Traber said.


“If you don’t have the vitamin C, the vitamin E gets lost and then you lose both of those antioxidants and end up in this vicious cycle of depleting your antioxidant protection.


¹Lipid peroxidation is the oxidative degradation of polyunsaturated fatty acids that are a major component of living cells; it’s the process by which free radicals try to stabilize themselves by stealing electrons from cell membranes, causing damage to the cell.


White Blood Cells in Overdrive


Neutrophils destroy vitamin C.


“If there’s too much fat in the diet, it causes injury to the gut,” Traber said. “Bacterial cell walls can then leak from the gut and slip into circulation in the body, and they’re chased down by neutrophils.”

Neutrophils are the most abundant type of white blood cells, a key part of the immune system. Neutrophils attack bacteria with hypochlorous acid: bleach.

“The white blood cells are scrubbing with bleach and that destroys vitamin C,” Traber said.


The body is destroying its own protection because it got tricked by the gut dysbiosis [imbalance] into thinking there was a bacterial invasion.”

And without intervention, the process keeps repeating.


Anti-inflammatory Response Destroys Vitamin C


“People with metabolic syndrome can eat the same amount of vitamin C as people without metabolic syndrome but have lower plasma concentrations of vitamin C,” Traber said. “We’re suggesting that’s because this slippage of bacterial cell walls causes the whole body to mount that anti-inflammatory response.”

Vitamin C is found in fresh vegetables and fruits; sources of vitamin E include almonds, wheat germ and various seeds and oils.  You can also find high quality vitamin C supplements online and wherever you shop (see my suggestions below).


Metabolic Syndrome


Metabolic syndrome is a chronic accumulation of body fat.


Metabolic syndrome, Syndrome ‘X’, or “adiposity” is a chronic accumulation of body fat. Metabolic syndrome is one of the major public health challenges worldwide that is characterized by:

  • Increased fat around the waist
  • Elevated blood triglycerides
  • Decreased HDL cholesterol
  • Elevated fasting glucose
  • Elevated blood pressure


Who Gets Metabolic Syndrome?

Prevalence is higher in women compared with men.

When stratified by race/ethnicity, the highest prevalence was seen in Hispanics, followed by non-Hispanic whites and blacks. (R)


Increased Risk of Chronic Diseases

These symptoms are associated with chronic diseases (all of which increase mortality) such as:

  • respiratory and cardiovascular disease
  • type two diabetes
  • fatty liver
  • cancer


Chronic Low-Grade Inflammation Can Become Deadly

Excess fat is associated with chronic low-grade inflammation, and over time, this fatty tissue can release signals to the rest of the body that accelerate inflammation.

This inflammatory response in large part explains the development of obesity-related disease.

Excess fat can also cause insulin resistance and hyperglycemia. It can also trigger atherosclerosis (artery blockage), dyslipidemia (high blood fat levels), high blood pressure, blood clots, and ischemic stroke.


Metabolic Syndrome May Cause Cancer


Oxidative stress caused by metabolic syndrome may also play a role in cancer development, as it causes epigenetic (non-genetic) changes in gene expression that can promote the development of cancer.


Findings from a 2012 meta-analysis, published in Diabetes Care analyzed many published studies, and foundthat metabolic syndrome is associated with increased risk of common cancers.

The analysis suggested that the increasing prevalence of metabolic syndrome worldwide and the high incidence of some malignancies, particularly colorectal and breast cancers, imply that every year many cases of cancer are attributable to metabolic syndrome.

The authors suggest that patients with the metabolic syndrome, even in the absence of obesity or diabetes, should be encouraged to undergo appropriate cancer screenings, at least for some more frequently involved sites, as recommended for all people of their age and sex.


Patients with the metabolic syndrome, even in the absence of obesity or diabetes, should be encouraged to undergo appropriate cancer screenings.



Metabolic Syndrome Video

If you or someone you care about has metabolic syndrome, I highly recommend watching this episode  of The Concierge Medicine Show With Dr. Aaron Wenzel, MD.

This informative video is like sitting down with a doctor who has the time and expertise to explain metabolic syndrome in a concise and helpful manner.  It’s both educational and interesting:



Vitamin C Dosage


Unfortunately, many people fail to consume enough vitamin C to realize its vast array of health benefits.

Most adults wrongly assume that the 75-90 mg of vitamin C recommended by the federal government is an optimal daily dose. In fact, this “recommended dietary allowance” is only enough to prevent vitamin-deficiency disease states such as scurvy—but not nearly enough to support optimal health.

The Nobel prize-winning scientist Dr. Linus Pauling was among the first to recognize the importance of high-dose vitamin C supplementation more than 30 years ago.

Since then, scientists have amassed impressive evidence supporting the numerous benefits of supplementing with high-dose vitamin C.

We now know that higher doses are crucial for metabolic syndrome patients, and other recent studies support the efficacy of high-dose vitamin C in preventing and fighting infections, improving endothelial function, reducing heart attack risk, promoting longevity, and enhancing cancer survival.

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for vitamin C is 75 mg for women and 90 mg for men per day, but the RDA for a given nutrient is calculated based only on avoiding deficiency. 

Several sources now suggest that RDA should be as much as double the currently advised 75–125 mg per day depending on age, gender, pregnancy and smoking habits.

At Vitamin C intakes above 60 mg/d, vitamin C begins to appear in the urine. However, intakes of approximately 400 mg/day are required to saturate vitamin C concentrations in the blood and white blood cells.


Higher doses are crucial for metabolic syndrome patients, and recent studies support the efficacy of high-dose vitamin C in preventing and fighting infections, improving endothelial function², reducing heart attack risk, promoting longevity, and enhancing cancer survival.


²Endothelium refers to cells that line the interior surface of blood vessels and lymphatic vessels, forming an interface between circulating blood or lymph in the lumen and the rest of the vessel wall. It is a thin layer of simple, or single-layered, squamous cells called endothelial cells.


The ‘tolerable upper intake level’ is stated to be 2 g/day for adults but many people are fine taking larger doses.

In fact, patients with pneumonia can take up to 100 g/day of Vitamin C without developing diarrhea, because of the changes in Vitamin C metabolism caused by the infection.


Patients with pneumonia can take up to 1,000 mg/day of Vitamin C.


When the daily dose is increased from 200 to 2500 mg the blood concentration increase only from approximately 12 to 15 mg/L due to kidney clearance. This is why some state that there’s no justification for megadoses of vitamin C in healthy individuals.


Studying Mega Doses of Vitamin C


A study published in the Journal of Translational Science investigated whether intravenous vitamin C (IVC, 15,000 mg) would alleviate inflammation and metabolic syndrome. 

The results were stunning:  it was demonstrated that high dose vitamin C can protect against inflammation in subjects with metabolic syndrome.

The study showed that after IVC treatment, the “inflammation score,” defined by the level of inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines, was decreased.

IVC treatment evidently modulated immunological genes in blood cells, suggesting potential benefits in regulating inflammation. 


The study participants were given 15,000 mg of intravenous vitamin C.


Several other markers of inflammation and anti-inflammation associated with metabolic syndrome were also improved, which indicated a decreased risk for chronic disease.

This finding is very important because it proved that IVC treatment of metabolic syndrome and low-grade inflammation resulted in a lower “inflammation score,” which is thought to protect against many types of chronic disease.


Vitamin C Supplements


There’s no shortage of choices for vitamin C supplements, and as an added bonus, vitamin C is a relatively inexpensive supplement.

Here are a couple of popular, highly rated options:


Now Vitamin C: 1000 mg with 100 mg of Bioflavinoids, 500 Veg Capsules. This brand receives top marks from reviewers, and provides good value for the quantity.


Pure Encapsulations Ester-C & Flavonoids, 180 Capsules: this is a highly absorbable form of vitamin C  which also includes the free-radical scavengers, quercetin and rutin.  Again, excellent reviews for this brand.


Vitamin C Cautions


Amounts higher than 2000 mg daily are possibly unsafe and may cause side effects, including kidney stones and severe diarrhea.

In people who have had a kidney stone, amounts greater than 1000 mg daily greatly increase the risk of kidney stone recurrence.


Special Considerations


Pregnancy and Breast-Feeding

Vitamin C is likely safe for pregnant or breast-feeding women when taken by mouth in amounts no greater than 2000 mg daily for women over 19 years-old, and 1800 mg daily for women 14 to 18 years-old, or when given intravenously (by IV) or intramuscularly and appropriately.

Taking too much vitamin C during pregnancy can cause problems for the newborn baby. Vitamin C is possibly unsafe when taken by mouth in excessive amounts.


Infants and Children

Vitamin C is likely safe when taken by mouth appropriately. Vitamin C is possibly unsafe when taken by mouth in amounts higher than 400 mg daily for children 1 to 3 years, 650 mg daily for children 4 to 8 years, 1200 mg daily for children 9 to 13 years, and 1800 mg daily for adolescents 14 to 18 years.



Alcohol intake can cause the body to excrete vitamin C in the urine. People who regularly use alcohol, especially those who have other illnesses, often have vitamin C deficiency. These people might need to be treated for a longer time than normal to restore vitamin C levels to normal.


Alzheimer’s Disease

Taking vitamin C along with vitamin E and alpha-lipoic acid might worsen mental function in people with Alzheimer’s disease.


Angioplasty ( A Heart Procedure)

Avoid taking supplements containing vitamin C or other antioxidant vitamins (beta-carotene, vitamin E) immediately before and following angioplasty without the supervision of a health care professional. These vitamins seem to interfere with proper healing.


Weight Loss Surgery

Weight loss surgery can cause the body to absorb more oxalate from food. This can increase the amount of oxalate in the urine. Too much oxalate in the urine can cause problems such as kidney stones.

Vitamin C can also increase the amount of oxalate in the urine. Taking large amounts vitamin C after weight loss surgery might increase the risk of having too much oxalate in the urine.



Cancerous cells collect high concentrations of vitamin C. Until more is known, only use high doses of vitamin C under the direction of your oncologist.


Kidney Disease

Vitamin C can increase the amount of oxalate in the urine. Too much oxalate in the urine can increase the risk of kidney failure in people with kidney disease.



Vitamin C might raise blood sugar. In older women with diabetes, vitamin C in amounts greater than 300 mg per day increases the risk of death from heart disease. Don’t take vitamin C in doses greater than those found in basic multivitamins if you are diabetic.


Glucose-6-Phosphate Dehydrogenase (G6PD) Deficiency (A Metabolic Deficiency)

Large amounts of vitamin C can cause red blood cells to break in people with this condition. Avoid excessive amounts of vitamin C.


Blood-Iron Disorders (Including Thalassemia and Hemochromatosis)

Vitamin C can increase iron absorption, which might make these conditions worse. Avoid large amounts of vitamin C.


Kidney Stones (Or a History of Them)

Large amounts of vitamin C can increase the chance of getting kidney stones. Do not take vitamin C in amounts greater than those found in basic multivitamins.


Heart Attack

Vitamin C levels are reduced during a heart attack. However, low vitamin C has not been linked to an increased risk for heart attack.


Kidney Transplant Rejection

Long-term use of vitamin C in high doses before a kidney transplant may increase the risk of transplant rejection or delay how long it takes until the transplanted kidney works.



Taking vitamin C along with vitamin E might worsen psychosis in some people with schizophrenia when taken with antipsychotic drugs.


Smoking and Chewing Tobacco

Smoking and chewing tobacco lowers vitamin C levels. Vitamin C intake in the diet should be increased in people who smoke or chew tobacco.


Final Thoughts

Since abundant data suggest that far greater doses of vitamin C are needed to support optimal health, consider supplementing with 1000-6000 mg of vitamin C daily with meals, especially if you’ve been diagnosed with metabolic syndrome.


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