, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 77–84 | Cite as

Design for a study to determine optimal dosage of ascorbic acid and alpha-tocopherol in humans

  • Leta R. Moser
  • Alfred B. OrdmanEmail author
Original Paper


Some clinical trials of vitamins C and E have neglected important design features. Our objective was to demonstrate a detailed design that includes essential elements for an effective study of these vitamins in vivo. While taking 400 IU (international units) of vitamin E, subjects took different dosages of vitamin C during three distinct periods. Dosages were 200 mg in food, 500 mg as supplements twice a day (500 × 2), and 1,000 mg as supplements twice a day (1000 × 2). Ten participants spent 3 weeks at each dosage before plasma was drawn on two consecutive days. Final samples were taken after a week with no supplementation. Selected by investigators at four institutions, endpoints were protein carbonyls, TBARs (thiobarbituric reactive substances), and Heinz body formation in RBCs (red blood cells). TBARs and protein carbonyls did not change significantly with dosage. However, Heinz body formation increased at either higher or lower intakes of vitamin C. Even with daily vitamin E, Heinz bodies were significantly fewer at 500 × 2. Results indicate that even with 400 IU vitamin E daily, it is possible to distinguish the effect of different levels of vitamin C with Heinz bodies. This effect may be due to pro-oxidant action of vitamin C or to prolonged survival of RBCs.

Key words

antioxidants ascorbic acid free radicals Heinz bodies protein carbonyls TBARs tocopherol vitamin C vitamin E 



ascorbic acid/vitamin C


American Aging Association


Analysis of variance


dl-alpha-tocopheryl-acetate/vitamin E






enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay


international units


National Institutes of Health


red blood cells




thiobarbituric acid reactive substances


Upper limit

500 × 2

500 mg AA twice a day

1000 × 2

1000 mg AA twice a day


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Biochemistry ProgramBeloit CollegeBeloitUSA
  2. 2.Department of Cancer BiologyVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA
  3. 3.Department of BiochemistryRush UniversityChicagoUSA

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