Vitamin C may cut risk of gallstones in women

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High blood levels of vitamin C may protect women from gallstones. That's what University of California researchers found using data from a nationwide health survey that looked at blood levels of vitamin C and gallbladder disease in over 9,000 people, ages 20 to 74 Women with the highest vitamin C levels developed half as many gallstones as women with moderate vitamin levels, a relationship not observed in men. Yet women with very low vitamin C levels also had fewer gallstones. Why?

Gallstones develop from cholesterol that hangs around instead of being convened to bile and excreted. Vitamin C boosts the activity of an enzyme that stimulates the conversion of cholesterol to bile. (A deficiency of C, on the other hand, slows cholesterol production, so there's less to accumulate.) Obviously, risking too little vitamin C is not an option, but eating more vitamin C-rich foods is certainly a good idea.

American Journal of Public Health, August 1998.

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