Vitamin C and NAC bad for you? Read this...
- 12-21-2004, 06:52 PM
Vitamin C and NAC bad for you? Read this...
Its an old study (2001) but Ive never heard of anything like this.
- 12-22-2004, 02:52 PM
12-22-2004, 02:56 PM
12-22-2004, 02:58 PM
12-22-2004, 03:44 PM
Well, I echo the sentiments above... but really, the article doesn't say NAC and C are bad, rather, it indicates that too much iron creates some potential problems... something we already knew. The wording is just meant to sensationalize the report so as to get it noticed and garner a reaction. Sad but true.
12-23-2004, 02:27 PM
I've also seen a journal article that showed increased markers of inflammatory stress after taking large doses of NAC and C. One thing to note is that C has also been shown to inhibit cortisol to some degree... Cortisol serves as a natural anti-inflammatory hormone. Thus it might be the case that if you have a genuine injury C is not going to be helpful, but for day to day it's a fine supplement.
12-28-2004, 08:23 PM
I haven't read the study in question. If I have time I will try to track it down.
Under some conditions, vitamin c + iron can do something called redox cycling, which basically means it spits out large amounts of free radicals. The question is, what conditions? The big studies about this that were hyped a few years ago were all in vitro, not in vivo, so it's not clear the conditions were relevant to living human bodies.
Free or ionic iron, which is what was used in the studies I mentioned above, is a double edged sword. The body goes to a lot of trouble to keep iron locked up, in complexes like heme and ferritin, rather than floating around as ionic iron. (As opposed to say sodium or magnesium, which are often found in the body as free ions.) Ionic iron, like the ionic forms of other polyvalent metals (e.g. copper and probably mangenese) can undergo redox cycling, which we don't want. The good side of the sword is that this same property of these metal ions means they can be used to form antioxidant enzymes, or oxygen carriers in the case of heme.
The study the original poster mentioned used bruises to release free iron. Crush injuries break open capillaries and let out red blood cells, which then burst and (eventually) release free iron. This iron in turn causes more damage to surrounding tissue, which can include breaking open more capillaries. If it's bad enough this can lead to a chain reaction. We've all probably known someone whose bruises take a long time to heal, and there are some people whose bruises actually expand somewhat over time. This is due, at least in part, to the chain reaction of iron-induced damage. This happens even when vitamin c is low; I've helped deal with this condition in several people who had mediocre diets and took no supplements at all. So it may be that vitamin c can make this worse, but it certainly happens even when vitamin c is low.
(Bruising easily is a different issue, which I am skipping over here to keep this shorter.)
For bruises, the best thing I know of is DMSO. Different types of free radicals need different antioxidants, and DMSO works wonders on bruises. I have never specifically tried NAC, though I have tried it indirectly. I take a few grams per day, every day, and have for years, but when I get a bruise I still find that DMSO clears them up a ton faster than not taking it. (I also take 20+ grams of vitamin c per day.) If you put the DMSO on right away, the bruise may never appear. Recently I pinched some skin while lifting. It bled some, and a little blood pooled under the skin. Normally, that'd be bruise city for me, but I put DMSO on it within 10 minutes and as a result I got only the tiniest, faintest yellowing.
If the study is right and taking vitamin c does make things worse when you bruise, then I would probably try to use DMSO more often, so that the combination of bruise + vitamin c doesn't last very long. I'd also look into something called compression hemolysis, which is when red blood cells are burst open due to intense muscular contractions. I don't know too much about this theory though, if it was validated or debunked, or if it'd even be relevant to most of us. But if it is, it sounds like an ongoing source of free iron, and so worthy of some thought. I know some people drink DMSO daily, when diluted... I don't myself but if I concluded that I was constantly hemorraging iron internally, due to exercise, I might think about it.
Another issue is iron overload. Too much iron built up in the body is definitely bad. If you take iron supplements, make sure they're chelated, not iron chloride or the like, and keep the dose down. Personally I try to get my iron from red meat as much as possible, even though I mostly eat fish and poultry.
Finally, there is the U curve issue. There are several situations in which a substance is pro-oxidant in small amounts, antioxidant in medium amounts, and pro-oxidant in large amounts. Oxygen itself, in the body, is one example. In many cases, hypoxia and hyperoxia are pro-oxidant, whereas normal O2 concentrations are slightly antioxdant. Does this apply to vitamin c too? I don't know, but it might, and that makes it harder to interpret the results of studies.
My bottom line is I'm not stopping the vitamin c or NAC, though I will be more aggressive about using DMSO to clear up bruises, and will see if I can find out more about this compression hemolysis theory.
12-28-2004, 11:37 PM
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