In a recent issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers at the University of Cambridge reported an association between higher levels of vitamin C in the bloodstream and a lower risk of developing Type ll Diabetes.
The researchers looked at over 21,000 participants from 1993-1997 who did not have diabetes when the study started. Their vitamin C levels were tested, and the participants were given dietary questionnaires to fill out when they enrolled in the study. Then the researchers followed the participants till 2005.
Over the twelve years of follow-up, 423 men and 312 women developed diabetes. But those men and women who were in the top 20% of vitamin C levels had a whopping 62% lower risk of developing the disease compared with those in the bottom 20%.
There are a couple of things that are interesting here. One, vitamin C is often a “marker” for fruit and vegetable intake in the diet- people who eat more fruits and vegetables have more vitamin C in their blood stream, and in the Western diet, 90% of our vitamin C comes from fruits and vegetables. So the protection against diabetes may have come from the vitamin C, but it also may have come from fruits and vegetables and all their assorted protective vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals.
So the authors did an interesting statistical analysis. They also evaluated fruit and vegetable intake independently of vitamin C in the blood. Not surprisingly, fruit and vegetable intake was also associated with a lower risk of diabetes (22% lower) but- perhaps surprisingly- fruit and vegetable consumption was associated with a lower reduction of risk against diabetes than high vitamin C levels in the blood.
"Higher plasma vitamin C level and, to a lesser degree, fruit and vegetable intake were associated with a substantially decreased risk of diabetes," the study authors wrote.
Never in the world would I recommend taking a vitamin supplement instead of eating vegetables and fruits. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of plant compounds found in the plant kingdom that probably have synergistic effects on our health, and many have specific health benefits besides the ones looked at in this study.
But the fact is that vitamin C is an incredibly important vitamin and most of us don’t get the optimal amount, even when we do eat a lot of fruits and vegetables. (Much vitamin C is lost between the time the fruit is picked and transported to your grocers shelf- more is lost once it’s cut.) My personal recommendation: Eat all the vegetables and fruits you possibly can- and also take a high quality vitamin C supplement such as Stellar C or Bio Fizz for added protection!