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Lemons & Pancreatitis

By Emma Cale

Pancreatitis occurs when the pancreas – the organ that produces enzymes and hormones necessary to digest food – develops an inflammation. Numerous studies link oxidative stress, damage caused by reactive oxygen molecules called free radicals, with pancreatitis. Low levels of magnesium may also play a role. Lemons contain both vitamin C and magnesium; therefore, lemons may provide nutritional support for patients with pancreatitis. Speak to your doctor or health care provider about lemons if you have pancreatitis.

Types

Pancreatitis falls into two categories: acute and chronic. Acute pancreatitis may occur from gallstones, inflammation of nearby organs, infections such as hepatitis, high amounts of fat in the blood and high exposure to antibiotics. Chronic pancreatitis often results from excessive alcohol consumption over many years; it can also result from cystic fibrosis and prolonged exposure to certain medications including corticosteroids.

Oxidative Stress

Oxidative stress occurs when the body lacks sufficient antioxidants to repair the cellular damage that free radicals cause. Research indicates that oxidative stress plays a role in pancreatitis onset. According to a March 2011 study conducted by researchers from the Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences in India, patients with both acute and chronic pancreatic exhibit reductions in antioxidant status. The results of this study appeared in the “Indian Journal of Gastroenterology.”

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Vitamin C

High doses of vitamin C offset the symptoms of pancreatitis, according to research. A November 2003 study conducted by researchers from the Huadong Hospital in China studied the effects of daily supplementation of 10 g of vitamin C for five days in patients with acute pancreatitis. The researchers found that many of the symptoms of pancreatitis, including vomiting and fever disappeared in the treatment group, which the researchers attributed to the antioxidant activity of vitamin C. The results of this study appeared in the “World Journal of Gastroenterology.”

Magnesium

Research links low levels of the essential mineral magnesium to pancreatitis. In December 2000 researchers from the Hammersmith Hospital in the United Kingdom recruited 13 patients with chronic pancreatitis and eight healthy controls and compared their magnesium levels. Ten of the 13 patients demonstrated a magnesium deficiency. Lemons provide a source of magnesium and may benefit pancreatitis patients when added to their diets. The results of this study appeared in the journal “Clinica Chimica Acta.”

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