Vitamins for Gout: It's Not Just Cherries Any More

Vitamins for Gout - If you've ever had an attack of gout, you might need someone to tell you what it is, but you won't need anyone to tell you that you've had it. An excruciating pain wakes you up in the middle of the night, usually in your big toe.

You try to get back to sleep, but the pain gets worse and worse. By morning you can't stand the weight of a bed sheet, much less the pain of putting on a shoe.

If you'd only the known there were vitamins for gout, you'd surely have taken them.

Gout has these unmistakable symptoms:

  • Sudden, intense pain, beginning in the big toe, ankle, heel, or instep. Later in the attack or in future attacks, pain may also occur in the knees, elbows, wrists, or rib cage.
  • Red, swollen joints, especially the toes, ankles, thumbs, fingers, and elbows.
  • Attacks may occur at the same time as attacks of kidney stones.

This disease of middle-aged men is caused by unusually high blood levels of a waste product called uric acid. In healthy people, uric acid is removed by the urine.

In gout-prone people, it crystallizes in joints, typically in the lowest parts of the body first, then in the lowest parts of the arms (the fingers up), and finally in the kidneys and skin. For every 100 men affected by gout, the disease occurs in only one woman.

The symptoms of gout come and go. In the absence of treatment with diet or vitamins for gout, uric acid can accumulate for months or years without symptoms, then an attack can come on suddenly. Once symptoms occur, they tend to worsen without treatment.

There are effective conventional medications for gout (based, interestingly, on chemicals found in the autumn crocus), but these drugs tend to have potent side effects. Fortunately, vitamins for gout and the more traditional food remedy, cherries for gout, can be as effective as medication. Let's look at the food cure first.

Ever since a Texas doctor published a paper on cherries as a cure for gout 55 years ago, this common fruit has been the treatment of choice for millions of holistically minded gout sufferers. The first clinical test of treatment with cherries, however, was only reported in 2003.

Researchers at the University of California at Davis recruited 10 women who had gout for a test of various kinds of fruit for removing uric acid from the bloodstream.

The scientists found that eating grapes, strawberries, or kiwifruit would not take appreciable amounts of uric acid out of the bloodstream and would not treat gout. They confirmed the old information that eating about 45 pitted cherries, however, would remove an average of 18% of the uric acid in the bloodstream over a 5-hour period.

The study confirmed the anecdotal experiences of tens of thousands of people that cherries treat gout. The scientists took the experiment a step farther, however, and noted that of all the fruits tested, only cherries contained vitamin C in its oxidized form.

The vitamin C in most fruits is in a "reduced" form, ready to neutralize free radicals of oxygen. The vitamin C in cherries is in an "oxidized" form that prevents the formation of free radicals in the first place.

The clear implication is, if you can't eat cherries, you can take vitamin C as at least one of your vitamins for gout. But you don't have to rely on guesswork, recently reported research confirms that vitamin C is among the best vitamins for gout.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore publishing in the June 2005 edition of the journal Arthritis and Rheumatology found that taking 500 milligrams of vitamin C a day definitely lowers the amount of uric acid in the bloodstream. Taking uric acid out of circulation lessens the likelihood of gout attacks. It makes them less severe when they occur.

The Johns Hopkins researchers confirmed findings reported earlier by scientists at the National Taiwan Normal University in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2003.

Studying Chinese men, the Taiwanese scientists reached the surprising conclusion that meat consumption, fat consumption, total protein consumption, soy consumption, and consuming the purine-rich foods normally forbidden to gout sufferers had no relationship to the number or severity of gout attacks.

In other words, at least in the Chinese study, restricted diet did not help gout and is not necessary.

What the Chinese scientists found did help was vitamins for gout.

Specifically, they found a protective benefit from vitamin C and folic acid. They also found a protective effect from eating fruits and vegetables rich in fiber.

Maintaining normal weight was also important. Avoiding meat, nuts, soy, whole grains, beans, peas, lentils, asparagus, cauliflower, sprouts, spinach, and mushrooms was not.

What's the scientists' bottom line about vitamins for gout? Get your fiber and vitamins B and C. Make sure your supplement provides at least 400 milligrams of vitamin C a day and at least 5 milligrams of folic acid. And for your best protection, choose a supplement that provides the complete range of nutrients you need for good health, in an easy to remember daily dose. Be sure that your supplement can be taken any time of day. You shouldn't have to take it with food.

One company that produces a balanced daily nutritional supplement you don't need to take with food is Xtend-Life Natural Products from New Zealand. Their flagship product, Total Balance , is a balanced daily nutritional supplement containing all the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients you need in a single, easy-to-take blend with an enteric coating so you can take it anytime without food.

We take Total Balance ourselves and are very happy with the results. It is in covered it in detail in the "what we take tab" on the upper left hand portion of this page.

A lot more vitamin information besides vitamins for gout back at the home page.

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