This page about orange juice for gout, last reviewed, or updated, on 29 May 2013.
Is orange juice for gout treatment just too incredible and too good to be true ?
No it isn't ! Two glasses of orange juice daily did lower uric acid levels in 12 healthy people, although the men had more success than the women, it was a small study, and the reductions weren't that great.
And before I go on, I should say that oranges are low purine.
This study was undertaken in Spain in 2003. There's "an awful lot of oranges in Spain." Everyone knows there's vitamin C in oranges, but if you ask someone "how much does orange juice raise your blood vitamin C level, and how quickly does it happen?" – you'll receive a negative answer.
And curiously, although vitamin C in oranges has been known for decades, the answer to this question about its bioavailability in orange juice, was not known until this study. (Vitamin C's bioavailability from many other sources is better known).
It has to be said this was a small study – just 12 healthy people, 20–32 years old. Six males, six females. They did not have gout, or excess uric acid (UA), and they were not overweight.
Participants drank two glasses to start off the study, then for the next 13 days reverted to a glass in the morning and a glass in the afternoon. This amounted to 500 ml a day, which gave them 250 mg of vitamin C daily. Their diet gave them an additional 136 mg (men), and 112 mg (women) daily.
After a fortnight of this orange juice for gout remedy, the men had raised their blood (serum) vitamin C levels by about 52% and the women by 22%. The women had higher starting levels.
URIC ACID LEVELS FALL
Now, let's move on to uric acid. In two weeks the men reduced their uric acid level by about –12.5% (by 0.71 mg/dL) and the women by –6.5% (by 0.24 mg/dL). The women's starting (baseline) uric acid levels were much lower than men: women 3.64 mg/dL (0.216 mmol/L); men 5.75 mg/dL (0.342 mmol/L). Every participant reduced their UA level.
Considering the additional vitamin C from the juice was just 250 mg, these are good reductions. They are probably only really helpful in gout at normal uric acid (UA) levels; or slightly elevated UA levels above 7.2 mg/dL. Or helpful if you discover you have excess uric acid but don't have gout,(asymptomatic hyperuricemia) and wish to do something about it, which you should.
They would be possibly more useful in helping to prevent a gout attack. These are not the kind of reductions you'd get from two weeks on a drug medication. But really, you never know until you try orange juice for gout.
In the much larger 2005 study into vitamin C and uric acid levels (see the bottom of this page) participants took twice as much vitamin C from a dietary supplement. Reductions were – 0.5 mg/dL across all participants, and – 1.5 mg/dL in study patients with excess uric acid (hyperuricemia).
Exact comparisons between the studies are difficult because the participants' profile was different, the studies were of different durations, and participants took different amounts of vitamin C. If you wish to read it in more detail, click on the link at the bottom of this page.
How does vitamin C lower uric acid levels? This is not known for certain, but it's thought it stimulates the kidneys to excrete more uric acid, thus acting like a uricosuric drug.
Orange juice is also high in potassium which is a useful alkalizing mineral (raises pH) in natural gout remedies. And of course orange juice contains certain flavonoids which assist vitamin C's absorption and retention. Many vitamin C dietary supplements do not contain these flavonoids, or not enough of them, although some good C supplements do.
Whatever way vitamin C works, this study achieved these useful results in two weeks with only 250 mg of additional natural vitamin C. It's possible that twice as much, for twice as long, or drinking two glasses of orange juice daily for the rest of your life, could achieve higher reductions.(Other studies have achieved higher reductions with higher vitamin C amounts). But if you have gout, remember – these were healthy people.
And if you have gout, or hyperuricemia, always discuss dietary change with a doctor.
This study also found that vitamin C from orange juice lowered one of the prostaglandins, which it is considered, is one of the ones that it is desirable to lower.
WHAT KIND OF ORANGE JUICE?
The juice used in this study was described by the researchers as "commercial fresh squeezed orange juice". This is juice squeezed from raw, fresh oranges, not juice from concentrated juice, neither with anything else added. The important thing is to get, more or less, the amount of vitamin C delivered by the juice in the study. This was 54 mg per 100 mL of juice or 125 mg from each glass. So check nutrition content labels carefully
GOUT AND SMOKING
Are there any smokers interested in taking vitamin C for gout reading this? This study has good news for you. Three of the six males were smokers. Tobacco reduces vitamin C levels. The increase in vitamin C levels among the smokers was better than in the non-smokers. And although figures were not quoted, the researchers said in their conclusion that the smokers' reductions in uric acid were also greater. However, only three smokers, all males, were actually tested.
WHAT ABOUT OTHER CITRUS JUICES?
Vitamin C has lowered uric acid levels in other studies. It's probable the bioavailability of vitamin C from grapefruit juice, or lemon juice, is not exactly the same as orange juice. And the bioavailability in other orange juices will vary from the juice used in this study too. (Bioavailability is the amount of Vitamin C in these juices that actually gets used by the body). But both have similar amounts of vitamin C which suggests that grapefruit juice for gout, and lemon juice for gout, are good ideas too. Make sure you drink enough to get 250 mg of vitamin C daily. In the much larger 2005 study, 500 mg of vitamin C was used to reduce uric acid levels. This is a better target to aim for.
If you want to read the 2005 study about vitamin C for gout, you can download it from our page about gout and vitamin C. Visit our page about gout and vitamin C
How about taking Vitamin C as a supplement to lower uric acid? Read about this on our Vitamin C and uric acid page.
Can you report success, or not, with Vitamin C treatment for gout? Tell our visitors what your experience has been. Visit our Gout and Vitamin C testimonials' page
Want more information about orange juice for gout? Read the orange juice study in detail. It is provided free, courtesy of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Click here and when the page arrives clink on the “Full Text (PDF) link” (top right). It requires Adobe Reader.
Milk has also lowered uric acid in studies. Read about milk and gout here.
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