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Vitamin C Found to Lower Levels of Lead in Blood, California Scientists Report

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SAN FRANCISCO, June 29, 1999 -- Scientists at the University of California at San Francisco have found that Vitamin C helps reduce dangerous blood levels of lead, a condition that can harm neurological development in children.

High dosages of Vitamin C are associated with reduced blood levels of lead in both young children and adults, the researchers reported. Dr. Joel A. Simon and Dr. Esther Hudes, both at the University of California at San Francisco, have revealed their findings in the current issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

The researchers said they believe the results of their studies on lead in blood can have "public health implications" for controlling lead toxicity, particularly for children.

Their studies found that high levels of Vitamin C in blood correlated with lower levels of lead in blood.

Dr. Simon recommended diets rich in fresh fruits and vegetables to increase body levels of Vitamin C, but also said additional amounts of Vitamin C in supplement form can be taken to ascertain that sufficient Vitamin C is being received.

The Simon-Hudes studies used data from a national analysis of Vitamin C intake involving more than 19,000 persons. Test subjects included children as young as six years of age, and adults.

The research found that children who ranked in the top third of Vitamin C intake in their blood levels had an 89 percent lower incidence of high lead levels in their blood.

Similar tests of adults showed that high levels of Vitamin C reduced lead levels by as much as 68 percent.

Lead has been found in paint, gasoline and other products, and has been banned for more than two decades. Children particularly have been affected by exposure to lead paint in older buildings, however, and because lead accumulates in the blood, some children have been found to have health problems, including mental retardation, as a result of lead exposure.

The California scientists said a number of questions remain about how Vitamin C brings about reduction in lead levels, and called for future research. They predicted that new dietary recommendations on Vitamin C could result from new research.

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(Foods for the Future provides factual information to the media concerning food products, health and nutrition. It is a project of the T. Dean Reed Company and is supported by U.S. agribusiness.)

CONTACT: Dean Reed of Foods for the Future, 202-223-3532

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