Chicago - Men with a higher intake of vitamin C from food or supplements have a lower risk of developing gout, a form of arthritis from uric acid build-up that causes inflamed joints, researchers said on Monday.

"Vitamin C intake may provide a useful option in the prevention of gout," Dr. Hyon Choi and colleagues at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver said in a paper published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Gout victims are typically men age 40 and older, although the malady can also strike women. Vitamin C appears to lower the levels of uric acid in the blood, the research team said.

Gout can lead to permanent joint damage and is linked to alcohol abuse, obesity, high blood pressure and a diet heavy in meat and cheese. It is increasingly common and afflicts 3 million people in the United States.

A look at nearly 47,000 U.S. men studied from 1986 to 2006 for a variety of health issues found that every 500 milligram increase of daily vitamin C intake produced a 17 percent decrease in the risk for gout.

An orange has about 70 mg of the vitamin. Higher concentrations come in pill form.

Among the men studied those with daily intake of 1,500 supplemental mg a day had a 45 percent lower risk of gout than those who took in less than 250 mg a day, said the team headed by Choi, who is now at Boston University.