Introduction: The objective of this study was to test the effects of acute doses of vitamin C alone, calcium ascorbate with vitamin C metabolites, and placebo, on total plasma and leukocyte vitamin C concentrations over 24 hours.
Methods: A double-blind, placebo-controlled, four-way crossover study was performed consisting of four separate phases lasting 24 hours each and utilizing one of four oral 1000-mg preparations within each phase (one of vitamin C alone, two separate vitamin C formulations of calcium ascorbate with vitamin C metabolites, and placebo). There was a 7-day washout between phases, and blood draws at seven time points within each phase of the study for a total of 28 serologic measurements per subject and 420 total measurements for the entire clinical trial. Vitamin C concentration in plasma and leukocytes were measured by high-performance liquid chromatography at baseline and at six sequential time periods over 24 hours.
Results: Fifteen healthy males were enrolled, aged 18-39 years; nine were had never smoked and six were chronic smokers. No significant difference in plasma vitamin C levels was observed when comparing the different preparations. However, at 24 hours, calcium ascorbate with metabolites resulted in significantly higher concentrations of vitamin C in leukocytes (P<0.0001) compared with vitamin C alone. These results were similar for both metabolite formulations, and independent of smoking status.
Conclusion: Regardless of smoking status, vitamin C metabolites may enhance leukocyte utilization of vitamin C itself, despite no consistent difference in plasma levels among the different preparations. A larger clinical investigation is warranted to confirm these preliminary findings, and to determine the clinical relevance of this impact on overall immune function.