DNA Health Testing Australia

Is Your Vitamin C Supplement Doing You Harm?

36-50% of the population may be harmed by taking a Vitamin C supplement.
Only 16% of the population will benefit from a Vitamin C supplement.

Eight years ago when I began using genetics in the clinic I saw the research that demonstrated that Vitamin C supplementation could be harmful in some people, determined by a person’s genetics. As a practitioner, this alarmed me as I routinely prescribed Vitamin C, especially for patients with adrenal depletion. After seeing this research I went back to my clinic and threw away every product that contained Vitamin C and stopped prescribing Vitamin C, as I could no longer be sure who it would help and who it would harm. I recommended to all my patients they stop taking supplemental Vitamin C in any form, including in multivitamins, and to use their diet to meet their daily Vitamin C needs, until their genetics could definitively tell them either way if it would help them or harm them.

One week ago I finally found the research that enables me to use the 23andMe genetic report to determine a person’s Haptoglobin genotype and know who will benefit from a Vitamin C supplement, who it will have no effect on either way and who it may be harmful to.

Why Vitamin C Supplements can be Harmful.

Even though we are told Vitamin C is an antioxidant, many people do not realise that Vitamin C can become a pro-oxidant in our body. The problem with Vitamin C is it is very unstable and is very prone to oxidation, particularly in the presence of metals such as iron and copper.

Iron is an essential element in humans, but it can also cause harm as it creates high levels of oxidative stress. Your body has developed a number of very complex mechanisms to acquire, transport, store, breakdown and remove this highly reactive and highly oxidising metal. Haptoglobin is one of the most important proteins in our blood used to protect us from oxidative damage from iron (heme), by binding it up and helping to remove it.

Haptoglobin (Hp) Mutations.

In those with Hp mutations, iron is not effectively bound and removed. When you introduce Vitamin C into an environment with high levels of unbound iron and high oxidative stress, Vitamin C ends up as a pro-oxidant, not an antioxidant. In an oxidised environment, Vitamin C changes iron from Fe3+ to Fe2+ and this reaction triggers the oxidation of Vitamin C. The Fe2+ released then triggers a highly reactive process that depletes Vitamin C stores.

Unfortunately, people with Hp mutations have the lowest Vitamin C levels, but when they take supplemental Vitamin C it creates more oxidative stress and further depletes their Vitamin C. Using Vitamin C supplementation actually leads to lower Vitamin C levels and creates a lot of damage, inflammation and oxidative stress in the process. Those with Hp mutations have a 400% increased risk of cardiovascular disease because of this process.

The only way you can determine your Haptoglobin genotype is through a genetic test.

Hp1-1: About 16% of the population
Vitamin C can function as an antioxidant and a Vitamin C supplement is beneficial

Hp2-1: About 48% of the population
Vitamin C cannot function effectively as an antioxidant and a Vitamin C supplement is neutral

Hp2-2: About 36% of the population
50% of certain ethnic groups such as Asians are Hp2-2
Vitamin C becomes a pro-oxidant and a Vitamin C supplement is harmful.

Genetic-based research is very clear… do not take supplemental Vitamin C until you know your Haptoglobin genotype. If you have your 23andMe genetic profile you can order your report now (not all versions of 23andMe include this gene) and find out your Haptoglobin genotype and response to Vitamin C supplements. If you don’t have a genetic test yet, contact iDNAHealth today, come in and order your genetic profile so you can engage with personalised health and make the best choices for you.