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More Good News About Antioxidants.

With all the attention being paid by researchers these days to the effects of the antioxidant vitamins, we continue to hear of the new claims for these remarkable biochemical benefactors--and the latest is particularly encouraging for those of us in the "golden years," when the most common form of arthritis often takes its toll.

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the normal outcome of a lifetime of wear-and-tear on our joints. Now researchers at Boston University have accumulated evidence of the potential value of antioxidants--and vitamin C in particular--in slowing the progression of this sometimes-painful process.

Reporting in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, they x-rayed the knees of 640 men and women participating in the Framingham (Massachusetts) Knee Osteoarthritis Cohort Study, first in 1983-85 and again in 1992-93. Midway in the study, they catalogued the diets of the study subjects. Over the ten-year period, they found that those with OA who consumed the most vitamin C were three times less likely to have been troubled with progression of their arthritis than were those whose intake of vitamin C was the least.

The effects of vitamin E and beta carotene were not as convincing, however--and the antioxidants did not seem to have a preventive effect. The authors of the study suggest that the antioxidants act only after damage has occurred, slowing progression by mopping up the ubiquitous free-radicals thought to be responsible for so much damage to body tissues of all kinds, and by being involved in the repair of already damaged tissue.

Interestingly, relatively small amounts of vitamin C (150 mg daily) seemed to provide as much benefit as the highest intakes (about 400 mg), although the high intakes resulted in a lower risk of developing knee pain. Some physicians recommend a daily intake of 400 to 500 mg of vitamin C for younger patients with OA of the knee. In such individuals it is important to delay knee replacement surgery as long as possible. Whatever the results of future studies in this area, the low cost of vitamin C and its safety in these doses should encourage all of us to get enough of it, whether in food alone or with the addition of supplements.
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Author:E.B.
Publication:Medical Update
Date:Jan 1, 1998
Words:364
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