Dr. Mone Zaidi, director of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine Bone Program, and colleagues removed the ovaries of mice, a procedure -- ovariectomies -- known to reduce bone density, and compared them with control mice that had "sham" operations, which left the ovaries intact.
The mice with ovariectomies were divided into two groups, one of which was given large doses of vitamin C over eight weeks. The scientists measured the bone mineral density in the lumbar spine, femur and tibia bones.
The study found the mice that received an ovariectomy and no vitamin C had a much lower bone mineral density versus controls, whereas mice that received a ovariectomy and large doses of vitamin C, had roughly the same bone mineral density as the controls. The outcome suggests vitamin C prevented bone mineral density loss, the researchers said.
"This study has profound public health implications, and is well worth exploring for its therapeutic potential in people," Zaidi, the lead researcher, said in a statement. "The medical world has known for some time that low amounts of vitamin C can cause scurvy and brittle bones, and that higher vitamin C intake is associated with higher bone mass in humans. Large doses of vitamin C, when ingested orally by mice, actively stimulated bone formation to protect the skeleton."
The study was published in the journal Plos One.