Boosting vitamin C consumption may help to prevent arthritis, suggest researchers in the UK this week.
A team at the University of Manchester epidemiology unit, funded by the charity Arthritis Research Campaign (ARC), and the Institute of Public Health, University of Cambridge found that a low intake of fruit and vegetables - particularly those containing vitamin C - seemed to increase the risk of developing inflammatory arthritis.
"We wanted to find out whether fruit and vegetable consumption - the main dietary source of vitamin C - could affect a person's risk of developing inflammatory polyarthritis," said research dietitian Dorothy Pattison.
The group used dietary information from around 25,000 people recruited to EPIC-Norfolk (an ongoing study of diet and chronic diseases) between 1993 and 1997. These people were followed-up, over an eight-year period, to see which of them developed inflammatory polyarthritis.
Over the eight years, 73 cases were identified. ARC reports that the researchers found lower intakes of fruit, vegetables, fructose and dietary vitamin C to be associated with a greater risk of developing inflammatory polyarthritis.
Professor David Scott, president of the British Society for Rheumatology, said:"It seems there is a particularly strong link between the risk of developing some forms of arthritis and a low intake of vitamin C. We feel these findings may have important implications for the role of diet in reducing the risk of inflammatory arthritis."
He added that more research is needed in this area. The charity confirmed that risk factors from diet should be further studied.
Recent research from the US revealed that zinc and the antioxidant beta-cryptoxanthin, found in citrus fruits, could also lower the risk of rheumatoid arthritis.