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Vitamin C and Bone Health: Evidence from Cell, Animal and Human Studies

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Background: Vitamin C, traditionally associated with scurvy, is an important nutrient for maintaining bone health. It is essential in the production of collagen in bone matrix. It also scavenges free radicals detrimental to bone health.

Objective: This review aims to assess the current evidence of the bone-sparing effects of vitamin C derived from cell, animal and human studies.

Results: Cell studies showed that vitamin C was able to induce osteoblast and osteoclast formation. However, high-dose vitamin C might increase oxidative stress and subsequently lead to cell death. Vitamin C-deficient animals showed impaired bone health due to increased osteoclast formation and decreased bone formation. Vitamin C supplementation was able to prevent bone loss in several animal models of bone loss. Human studies generally showed a positive relationship between vitamin C and bone health, indicated by bone mineral density, fracture probability and bone turnover markers. Some studies suggested that the relationship between vitamin C and bone health could be U-shaped, more prominent in certain subgroups and different between dietary and supplemental form. However, most of the studies were observational, thus could not confirm causality. One clinical trial was performed, but it was not a randomized controlled trial, thus confounding factors could not be excluded.

Conclusion: vitamin C may exert beneficial effects on bone, but more rigorous studies and clinical trials should be performed to validate this claim.

Keywords: Ascorbic acid; bone; osteoblast; osteoclast; osteoporosis; vitamin C

Document Type: Review Article

Publication date: April 1, 2018

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  • Current Drug Targets aims to cover the latest and most outstanding developments on the medicinal chemistry and pharmacology of molecular drug targets e.g. disease specific proteins, receptors, enzymes, genes. Each issue of the journal will be devoted to a single timely topic, with series of in-depth reviews, written by leaders in the field, covering a range of current topics on drug targets. These issues will be organized and led by a guest editor who is a recognized expert in the overall topic. As the discovery, identification, characterisation and validation of novel human drug targets for drug discovery continues to grow; this journal will be essential reading for all pharmaceutical scientists involved in drug discovery and development.
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