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Vitamin C

Scientists Discover Vitamin C can Halt Diabetes Damage

Wednesday, July 08, 2009 by: Michael Jolliffe
Tags: vitamin C, health news, Natural News

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(NewsTarget) A team of US and British scientists has discovered that a combined therapy of insulin and vitamin C can stop disease-related blood vessel damage in patients with Type I diabetes.

Researchers at the Harold Hamm Diabetes Center in Oklahoma and the University Hospital of Coventry and Warwickshire, UK, recruited forty participants into a trial that involved providing vitamin C or insulin therapy, or both, for a range of time periods and assessing the effect of each therapy on endothelial (blood vessel) injury, blood flow and oxidative stress. The patient group included a range of sufferers, from those recently diagnosed with the condition to those who had been controlling the illness for five years or more.

Results revealed that either therapy was mildly effective for those with a recent diagnosis of Type I diabetes, but that only the combined treatment was completely effective, particularly for longer-suffering participants.

Lead investigator Michael Ihnat, Ph.D., a pharmacologist at the Oklahoma University College of Medicine Department of Cell Biology, commented in an article published by the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism: "For patients with diabetes, this means simply getting their glucose under control is not enough. An antioxidant-based therapy combined with glucose control will give patients more of an advantage and lessen the chance of complications with diabetes." [1]

Complications of blood vessel damage, even in well controlled diabetes, can include kidney problems, injury to the small blood vessels in the eye leading to vision impairment and blindness, heart disease and nerve damage.

A second discovery by the researchers was that only the combined therapy was able to switch off the 'memory' triggered by the onset of diabetes. Scientists believe that a cellular 'switch' is flicked early on in the course of the illness leading to damage and deterioration, which cannot be reversed with insulin control alone. The current team was excited to confirm that the joint vitamin C and insulin therapy was able to reset this process.

Future experiments involving patients with Type II diabetes are said to be currently in the planning stages.

The relationship between vitamin C and diabetes has been investigated for many decades, with scientific papers dating as far back as 1937. [2]

Another complication of diabetes is the excessive accumulation of the sugar sorbitol in the body, which can lead to nerve and eye damage. In 1994, researchers investigating the effect of vitamin C on sorbitol levels in young adults discovered that doses of 100 or 600mg per day were able to normalize levels within a month. [3]

A sixteen year study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, involving around1,500 women with diabetes found that supplementation with 400mg or more of vitamin C each day significantly reduced the risk of coronary heart disease. [4]

[1] Ceriello et al. Long-term glycemic control influences the long-lasting effect of hyperglycemia on endothelial function in type 1 diabetes. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. 2009 June. doi:10.1210/jc.2009-0762.
[2] Pfleger R et al. 1937. Diabetes und vitamin C. Wiener Archiv fr Innere Medizin 31: 219-230.
[3] Cunningham JJ et al. Vitamin C: an aldose reductase inhibitor that normalizes erythrocyte sorbitol in insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. J Am Coll Nutr. 1994 Aug. 13; 4: 344-5.
[4] Osganian SK et al. Vitamin C and risk of coronary heart disease in women. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2003; 42(2):246-252.

About the author

Michael Jolliffe is a freelance writer based in Oxford, UK.

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