Vitamin C contributes to inflammation via radical generating mechanisms: a cautionary note

Med Hypotheses. Nov-Dec 2003;61(5-6):657-60. doi: 10.1016/s0306-9877(03)00271-8.


Reactive oxygen and nitrogen species (RONS) have been ascribed an important role in oxidative stress contributing to the progression of inflammatory diseases such as Crohn's disease and rheumatoid arthritis. Redox-active metal ions such as Fe(II) and Cu(I) further activate RONS and thus perpetuate their damaging effects. High intake of ascorbic acid exerts a pro-oxidant effect by its interaction with metal ions via a number of established RONS generating systems. Caution should be exerted regarding surplus ascorbic acid intake for patients with chronic inflammatory diseases.

MeSH terms

  • Ascorbic Acid / metabolism
  • Ascorbic Acid / physiology*
  • Copper / metabolism
  • Disease Progression
  • Free Radicals*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation
  • Ions
  • Iron / metabolism
  • Models, Chemical
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Oxidants / metabolism
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism


  • Free Radicals
  • Ions
  • Oxidants
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Copper
  • Iron
  • Ascorbic Acid