Low vitamin C levels linked to high lead levels

According to an observational study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Jun 1999; 281: 2289 – 2293), a low level of vitamin C in the blood is associated with high levels of lead. To quote the conclusion reach by the authors “Our data suggest that high serum levels of ascorbic acid are independently associated with a decreased prevalence of elevated blood lead levels. If these associations are related causally, ascorbic acid intake may have public health implications for control of leadtoxicity.”

This is just a preliminary observation, and it is too early to state that the low level of vitamin C is responsible for the high level of lead. It does, however support the findings of another study conducted at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galvestonthat found that vitamin C supplementation reduced lead levels in heavy smokers (one of the effects of smoking is reduced vitamin C levels).

There are about one million Americans with elevated lead levels. Symptoms of lead poisoning in adults include loss of appetite, abdominal pain, renal (kidney) disease, anemia, headache, memory loss, and peripheral neuropathy (pain, numbness, or tingling of the arms and legs). In children, signs of acute poisoning are anemia, abdominal pain and nervous system disorders. At sub-acute levels of lead poisoning, there are often no symptoms, but such levels can cause mental retardation, loss of cognitive function, language deficits, and behavior problems.

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