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Vitamin C elevates red blood cell glutathione in healthy adults

by Carol S. Johnston, Claudia G. Meyer, J. C. Srilakshmi
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition ()

Abstract

We examined the effect of supplemental ascorbic acid on red blood cell glutathione. Subjects consumed self-selected vitamin C-restricted diets, and, under double-blind conditions, ingested placebo daily for week 1 (baseline), 500 mg L-ascorbate/d for weeks 2-3, 2000 mg L-ascorbate/d for weeks 4-5, and placebo daily for week 6 (withdraw). Mean red blood cell glutathione rose nearly 50% (P < 0.05) after the 500-mg period compared with baseline, and the changes from baseline for individual subjects ranged from +8% to +84%. However, the increases in plasma vitamin C and red blood cell glutathione were not correlated (r = 0.22). At the 2000-mg dosage, mean red blood cell glutathione was not significantly different from the value obtained at the 500-mg dosage. After the placebo-controlled withdraw period, red blood cell glutathione did not differ from baseline. These data indicate that vitamin C supplementation (500 mg/d) maintains reduced glutathione concentrations in blood and improves the overall antioxidant protection capacity of blood.

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