Ascorbic Acid: Activity Against Aging and Alzheimer’s? – Pharmacy Times

Approximately 10,000 baby boomers celebrate their 65th birthdays each day. As US life expectancy increases, so does age-related disease prevalence. One in 9 individuals 65 years or older have Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

The June 2017 Nutrients publication includes a review providing an overview of ascorbic acid’s (AA) main biological mechanisms in aging and AD processes

Researchers study AA, or Vitamin C, for its potential beneficial effects on aging processes and prevention of age-related diseases. AA supplementation in mice appears to prevent premature aging by halting cell growth, oxidative stress, telomere shortening, and excessive secretion of inflammatory factors.

Aging is characterized by immunosenescence (deterioration of the immune system) and chronic low-grade inflammation. Oxidative stress is a major factor in both processes. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant exclusively absorbed from the diet. Its pro-oxidant or antioxidant effect depends on AA concentration and redox state of a cell.

In vivo studies show that low level AA supplementation effectively counteracts inflammatory and oxidative stress-related changes and improves immunological memory. Interestingly, at higher concentrations, AA is a pro-oxidant through ROS generation and inhibits antioxidant systems in the presence of iron. The level needed to positively modify brain aging is unknown.

AA promotes beneficial effects on neurodegeneration and age related diseases, particularly AD, through scavenging reactive oxygen species (ROS), modulating neuroinflammation, suppressing amyloid-beta peptide fibrillogenesis, and chelating iron, copper, and zinc.

Vitamin C has an epigenetic mechanism of neuronal gene regulation and is vital for neuronal repair. Researchers suggest AA’s antioxidant activity is neuroprotective in AD pathogenesis, but clinical trials have failed to show an association.

The researchers noted that it’s unclear how supplementation differs from dietary intake, and also pointed out that it’s difficult to determine individuals’ lifetime intake. Further research is required to fully understand AA’s role in brain aging and AD.



Monacelli F, Acquarone E, Giannotti C, Borghi R, Nencioni A. Vitamin C, Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease. Nutrients. 2017; 9(7):670.


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