The health benefits of vitamin C go far beyond its ability to act as an anti-bacterial and an anti-viral agent to fight common infections like cold and flu. Through its anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory action, it serves as one of the best supplements for treating rheumatoid arthritis.
In fact, you might want to consider increasing your intake of vitamin C for relieving the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis rather than using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID’s) or analgesics, which have been proven to have serious adverse effects like gastrointestinal ulcers, renal and hepatic failure, anemia, etc. by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Vitamin C for Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment
What Makes Vitamin C, a Good Candidate for Treating Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Considering the fact that rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, it makes perfect sense to supplement your body with substances that enhance the capability of your immune system to differentiate between self and non-self antigens. Not only does vitamin C act as an immune stimulant, but it also acts as a potent anti-oxidant by ridding the body of harmful free radicals and toxins that accumulate and cause inflammation in the joints.
It also promotes the growth of strong bones and flexible joints by acting as a precursor for collagen, which acts as building blocks of connective tissue lining the joints. Its anti-inflammatory properties help in preventing deformity of the joints by stabilizing the cartilage, which acts as a cushion for joints.
How Can You Increase Your Intake of Vitamin C?
While vitamin C does provide you with many benefits for treating arthritic joint pains, it needs to be present in sufficient amounts for the implementation of its health benefits by the body. Moreover, vitamin C cannot be synthesized in the body, which makes it essential to obtain its required amounts from external sources.
Modifying your diet in order to include foods rich in vitamin C, serve as the most ideal way of increasing your intake of vitamin C for strengthening arthritic joints. Researchers have reported that patients with a deficiency of vitamin C were about three times more susceptible to rheumatoid arthritis than those who consumed more amounts of vitamin C through their diet.
Fruits rich in vitamin C include citrus fruits, kiwi, grapefruit, guava, orange, lemon, raspberries, peaches, pineapples, papaya and mangoes. Vitamin C rich vegetables include green, leafy vegetables, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, bitter gourd, cauliflower, tomato, cabbage, etc. Spices like bell peppers and cinnamon and herbs like thyme and parsley also serve as good sources of vitamin C.
Red and Green chillies provide the maximum amount of vitamin C, among all the foods. Hence, you can spice up your curries, soups, salads and sauces with raw chillies or red and green chilli paste. These natural sources promote a better intestinal absorption of vitamin C, thus helping in relieving chronic joint pains by reversing the deformity of the affected joints.
Vitamin C Supplements
Available in the form of tablets, liquid, capsules and drink mix packets, vitamin supplements provide a quick relief from sudden and severe flare-ups of joint pains. They are offered in varying dosage levels, ranging from 25 mg to 1500 mg, therefore, making it compulsory for you to seek medical advice and find out the right amount of vitamin C needed to treat the severity of your joint pains, before purchasing them.
To ensure that you do not overload your body with vitamin C, begin by taking a smaller dose and then gradually increase the dose as your body starts increasing its tolerance levels towards these supplements. Moreover, the absorption rate of vitamin C, when taken in the form of supplements is much lower than the rate of absorption of vitamin C that is obtained naturally through food sources. This makes it mandatory for you to use a higher dosage of vitamin C for extracting its benefits for treating rheumatoid arthritis.
However, it is crucial to bear in mind that the higher the dosage, the more are the accompanying side-effects. Since, vitamin C plays a major role in cleansing and detoxifying the body by boosting cellular metabolism, higher doses of vitamin C can lead to diarrhea and build-up of excess gas inside the stomach. Hence, do not use vitamin C supplements unless they are absolutely necessary or if you are having a difficulty in obtaining vitamin C through your diet. For instance, the use of vitamin C supplements in patients suffering from recurrent episodes of gout attacks can bring quick relief by speeding up the clearance of uric acid crystals by dissolving them at a faster rate.
How Much of Vitamin C is to Be Consumed?
A study found that people who consumed less than 40 mg of vitamin C were about four times as likely to develop inflammation and joint pains, characterizing the presence of rheumatoid arthritis than those who consumed high levels of vitamin C. Hence, the USDA recommends a daily intake of 90mg of vitamin C for men and a dosage of 75 mg for women, considered to be sufficient enough for invoking its beneficial properties for curing rheumatoid arthritis.
However, a study published in “Arthritis and Rheumatism” has shown that the usage of vitamin C for a long period of time can actually increase the risk of developing severe osteoarthritis in the knees by damaging the cartilage beyond repair. Hence, it is important to balance your diet and make sure that you do not consume vitamin C in excess and use moderate amounts of vitamin C on a regular basis to extract its health benefits.
Even though, vitamin C is a safe and effective way of treating rheumatoid arthritis, it does not necessarily imply that its beneficial properties can work for every patient suffering from this condition. Moreover, every researcher who supports the role of vitamin C in treating rheumatoid arthritis uses dietary sources and not vitamin C supplements available in the market for conducting their studies. Hence, it is advisable to avoid popping in a vitamin C supplement whenever you experience a sudden, throbbing pain in your arthritic joints.
In conclusion, the key to using dietary supplements for treating rheumatoid arthritis is to maintain a good balance by consuming other natural alternatives like whole grains, low-fat containing dairy products, lean meat, fish and other fruits and vegetables in conjunction with vitamin C rich foods that provide your body with a plethora of vital nutrients, to help your body recover from the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis at a faster rate.