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Brandi Locke

NUT 011: Nutrition on the Web Project

The article I chose from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition is entitled Human
skeletal muscle ascorbate is highly responsive to changes in vitamin C intake and plasma
concentrations. It was written by doctors Carr, Bozonet, Pullar, Simcock and Vissers from the
Pathology and Reconstructive Surgery Departments within the Center for Free Radical Research
at the University of Otago in New Zealand. The report is on a study they conducted to determine
the bioavailabilty of vitamin c to human skeletal muscle in relation to dietary intake and plasma
concentrations and to compare this in relation to the uptake of ascorbate by peripheral blood
leukocytes (Carr et al, 800-801). On other words, they studied whether measures of vitamin c
levels in muscle tissue are a better indicator of vitamin intake and absorption than other
measures, such as plasma concentration indicating intake and leukocytes indicating absorption in
other vitamin c-containing tissues. After controlling for the 35 subjects diets and varying health
statuses, the researchers implemented 2 interventions over 6 weeks of feeding participants one-
half or two golden kiwifruits, which have high levels of vitamin c. Samples of urine, plasma (for
leukocyte readings), and muscle tissue biopsies were regularly taken and compared.
Ultimately the study revealed that skeletal muscle tissue tests are more accurate
reflections of whole-body vitamin-c levels and it fluctuations than leukocyte tests. The
researchers hypothesized and confirmed that this is because skeletal muscle tissue makes up
about 60% of all bodily tissues, so using testing that tissue rather than measuring leukocytes
would better reflect general ascorbate levels throughout the body. Comparisons of vitamin c
intake to absorption readings revealed that muscle tissue tests were not a good indicator of
intake, suggesting that too many factors, like genetic factors and overall health, obscured
explanations for differences between intake and absorption. The study confirmed American and
Canada recommended dietary intake standards were adequate, and ultimately supports the
contention that current practices for measuring vitamin c level could become more accurate by
testing muscle tissue instead. The significance of this study lies in its focus on testing how our
nutritional choices and recommendations reflect accurate or inaccurate clinical study
I find this article to be highly reliable because its sources are credible and its
experimental choices and procedures are logical, accurate and were reported with transparency.
Firstly, the authors are associated with departments within a research university, and they
provide contact information to make confirming their credibility easy. Secondly, they take the
time to explain plainly and clearly how the body absorbs vitamin c, how we measure it, and why.
Thus it is easy to understand why their experiment sought to study alternative methods for
testing and measuring vitamin c levels, and how the different methods may be more or less
accurate reflection of actual vitamin c levels in the body. Lastly, they clearly explain their
results, the scientific and statistical significance of the results, and the implications they have on
our understanding of vitamin c in our bodies, as well as the field of nutrition. The singular
concern I have is that my lack of in-depth knowledge of the biological process of vitamin c
absorption restricts my ability to comment more authoritatively on the accuracy of the studys
premises and assumptions. However, the level of clarity and transparency of the researchers in
explaining their choices and results suggests that any false premises or assumptions would
probably be obvious because the logical of their conclusions would falter.
This study affects my dietary choices very little because I make choices with large ideas
in mind, not specific statistics or values. I try not to over think and analyze my food choices,
such as intensive calorie or nutrient counting, because my health is quite good and I am not
addressing any severe health problems or illnesses. Rather than trying to calculate exactly how
many supplements I need to eat to get the exact daily recommended value of vitamin c, I am
satisfied knowing I chose tangerines for a snack and then lemon juice-olive oil salad dressing to
provide adequate vitamin c through healthful eating choices. However, this study is important to
me because it reminds me that my choices are based on recommendations based in clinical
studies, which are debatable and are only as accurate as their methodology. As new technology
emerges, we gain better understandings of how our body works, changing the way we can study
how our body processes food and changing our dietary recommendations. Although vitamin c is
generally consumed at adequate levels globally, it is easy to see how this has implications for
other nutrients and bodily functions we measure related to prevalent health issues and illnesses,
such as insulin levels for diabetes. Going forward it is important for dietitians to be aware of
these changes, particularly for patients whose dietary recommendations are strict, sever and
highly dependent on the accuracy of standard measures, and I would hope to practice this in the
future myself.
Carr, A. C., S. M. Bozonet, J. M. Pullar, J. W. Simcock, and M. C. Vissers. "Human skeletal
muscle ascorbate is highly responsive to changes in vitamin C intake and plasma
concentrations." American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 97.4 (2013): 800-807. Retrieved 6/29/2014.

Presented by Carr et al. of the University of Otago, New Zealand

Vitamin C is important for:
- Acting as an antioxidant against oxidative harm
- Biosynthesis of collagen, neurotransmitters, peptide hormones, carnitine
- Prevention of scurvy and its condition, like anemia, bleeding gums

Vitamin C intake and absorption is measured by:
- Measuring leukocytes
- Measuring skeletal muscle tissue
- Measuring plasma

Overall the study reveals that measuring leukocytes and plasma are not as accurate at
reflecting vitamin c levels as measuring muscle tissue.


This fact sheet is composed by Brandi Locke