Metabolic Syndrome Patients Need More Vitamin C

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

That’s important news for the estimated 35 percent of the
U.S. adult population that suffers from the syndrome.

“What these findings are really saying to people as we move
out of the rich-food holiday season and into January is eat your fruits and
vegetables,” said Maret Traber, a professor in the OSU College of Public Health
and Human Sciences and Ava Helen Pauling Professor at Oregon State’s Linus
Pauling Institute. “Eat five to 10 servings a day and then you’ll get the
fiber, you’ll get the vitamin C, and you’ll really protect your gut with all of
those good things.”

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.

The 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 peroxidation, 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.”

Lipid 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.

“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 into thinking there was a bacterial

And without intervention, the process keeps repeating.

“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.

Federal dietary guidelines call for 65 to 90 milligrams
daily of vitamin C, and 15 milligrams of vitamin E.

Scientists from the University of Iowa and Ohio State
contributed to this research. The National Institutes of Health, the Center for
Applied Plant Sciences and Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center at
The Ohio State University, the National Dairy Council, and DSM Nutrition
supported this study.

About the Linus Pauling Institute: The Linus Pauling Institute at OSU is a world leader in the
study of micronutrients and their role in promoting optimum health or
preventing and treating disease. Major areas of research include heart disease,
cancer, aging and neurodegenerative disease.


Maret G. Traber, Garry R. Buettner, Richard
S. Bruno. The Relationship Between Vitamin C Status, the
GUT-Liver Axis, and Metabolic Syndrome
. Redox Biology, 2018; 101091 DOI: 10.1016/j.redox.2018.101091