Inflammation, C-Reactive Protein (CRP) and Your Health

Inflammation Signs and Symptoms

Inflammatory processes play a role in almost all disease processes, and you may experience it in several ways. You are probably familiar with common inflammatory symptoms such as painful and swollen joints, nasal congestion, asthma, or skin conditions, but inflammation may also be causing other problems without you even knowing. This is especially true of long-term chronic inflammation that can contribute to disease processes like heart disease, brain disorders, auto-immune diseases, and even cancer.

Detecting Chronic Inflammation

Many times, in medicine, we use “biomarkers” to help paint a picture of the body’s overall health, and identify specific risk factors. 

You are probably familiar with some biomarkers like cholesterol and triglycerides that can indicate cardiovascular risk.  Your blood glucose levels and Hemoglobin-A1C serve as biomarkers for diabetes. 

But you may not be familiar with one of the most important biomarkers for inflammation that can often be overlooked – your C-Reactive Protein, or CRP.

What is CRP?

C-Reactive Protein (CRP) is a compound produced by the liver when your body is experiencing inflammation. Higher amounts of inflammation cause higher levels of CRP in your blood.

What Does CRP tell us?

CRP is most often discussed in the context of heart disease and cardiovascular risk, however it can also indicate other inflammatory conditions and risk factors. 

In addition to cardiovascular conditions, elevated CRP could be an indicator of infection, cancer, auto-immune disorders (IBS, Rheumatoid arthritis, lupus), injuries, and more.

Normal CRP blood levels

  • Less than 1 mg/L is considered normal and low risk for cardiovascular disease
  • Between 1-3 mg/L is considered moderate cardiovascular risk
  • Above 3 mg/L is considered high cardiovascular risk
  • Above 10 mg/L is generally seen with acute conditions, such as after a heart attack

As mentioned before, the elevated levels could also be associated with other conditions not related to cardiovascular risk. CRP is just a general marker indicating excessive inflammation that is a key component of many disease states.

Testing CRP

You typically won’t notice any symptoms from having slightly elevated CRP levels, so the only way to know is through a blood test.  A high-sensitivity CRP test (hs-CRP) is needed to detect the levels below 10 mg/L. 

What if my CRP is high?

You need to speak with your doctor about what your elevated CRP levels indicate in your specific case. Your doctor will likely look at your medical history and other blood tests to help determine the exact cause of your elevated levels, and help you develop a strategy to address the issue.

Lowering Your CRP 

While there is not a direct “treatment” to lower your CRP levels, there are plenty of ways you can reduce inflammation throughout your body which will subsequently lower your CRP levels, and therefore lower your overall risk.

It probably won’t surprise you to learn that a healthy diet is one of the most effective ways of lowering your CRP.  The Mediterranean Diet is known for reducing CRP and that is thought to be in part from some key nutrients found in that diet that have proven anti-inflammatory effects:1

  1. Olives (hydroxytyrosol / oleuropein):

    Consumption of olives and olive oil has been associated with decreased cardiovascular risk and decreased levels of inflammatory markers including CRP, especially in persons with increased cardiovascular risk.2,3 The beneficial effects are attributed to the polyphenols and antioxidants found in olives, especially hydroxytyrosol and oleuropein.

    2,3

    Olive polyphenols are the basis of the patented Olivamine 10 Max ingredient found in all Pinnaclife products.

  2. Fiber: 

    High Fiber diets are associated with lower CRP levels and this is thought to contribute in part to the lower risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer.4 One study showed for every 10 grams of fiber consumed daily, the odds of having an elevated CRP declined by 11%.(Krishnamurthy 2012) Prebiotic fiber that supports healthy intestinal bacteria (probiotics) is especially beneficial as the healthy bacteria are known to provide anti-inflammatory effects throughout the body.

  3. Omega-3 (DHA / EPA):

    Increasing intake of essential omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA have been shown to lower CRP.  Some studies indicate that DHA has a stronger CRP lowering effect than EPA.5,6

    Pinnaclife Omega-3 provides 500 mg of DHA and 100 mg of EPA per serving from ultra-pure molecularly distilled fish oil, harvested sustainably with Friend of the Sea certification.

  4. Turmeric (curcumin):

    Turmeric contains many compounds called curcuminoids that are known for their anti-inflammatory properties. Research shows that absorbable forms of curcumin may help to reduce CRP levels.7

    Pinnaclife uses a highly absorbable soluble curcumin in the Brain Health, Joint Health, Mood Support, and Sleep Support products.

  5. Magnesium:

    Dietary Magnesium intake is associated with lower CRP levels, and also lower risks of cardiovascular disease, brain disease, and more.8,9

    Absorbable forms of magnesium are used in Pinnaclife D3+Magnesium, Brain Health, Mood Support, and Sleep Support supplements.

  6. Vitamin C:

    In people with CRP levels above 1 mg/L, Vitamin C was shown to reduce CRP as effectively as using a cholesterol-lowering statin drug.10

    Pinnaclife MultiVitamin provides 300% of your daily value of Vitamin C.

Be Proactive

If you have had your CRP checked and were told it was high, you should definitely consider incorporating some of the above into your daily routine to help reduce inflammation and lower your overall risk.

Even if your numbers came back as normal, it's still a good idea to be proactive and incorporate some of the above nutrients to maintain your healthy levels.

If you have never had your levels checked, be sure to discuss the CRP test with your doctor and determine if you could benefit from knowing your level.

      1. Moss JWE, Ramji DP. Nutraceutical therapies for atherosclerosis. Nat Rev Cardiol. 2016;13(9):513-532.
      2. Vilaplana-Pérez C, Auñón D, García-Flores LA, Gil-Izquierdo A. Hydroxytyrosol and potential uses in cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and AIDS. Front Nutr. 2014;1:18.
      3. Souza PAL de, Marcadenti A, Portal VL. Effects of Olive Oil Phenolic Compounds on Inflammation in the Prevention and Treatment of Coronary Artery Disease. Nutrients. 2017;9(10).
      4. Ma Y, Griffith JA, Chasan-Taber L, et al. Association between dietary fiber and serum C-reactive protein. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006;83(4):760-766.
      5. Bowden RG, Wilson RL, Deike E, Gentile M. Fish Oil Supplementation Lowers C-Reactive Protein Levels Independent of Triglyceride Reduction in Patients With End-Stage Renal Disease. Nutr Clin Pract. 2009;24(4):508-512.
      6. Allaire J, Couture P, Leclerc M, et al. A randomized, crossover, head-to-head comparison of eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid supplementation to reduce inflammation markers in men and women: the Comparing EPA to DHA (ComparED) Study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2016;104(2):280-287.
      7. Sahebkar A. Are Curcuminoids Effective C-Reactive Protein-Lowering Agents in Clinical Practice ? Evidence from a Meta-Analysis. Phytother Res. 2014;28:633-642.
      8. King DE, Mainous AG, Geesey ME, Woolson RF. Dietary magnesium and C-reactive protein levels. J Am Coll Nutr. 2005;24(3):166-171.
      9. Dibaba DT, Xun P, He K. Dietary magnesium intake is inversely associated with serum C-reactive protein levels: meta-analysis and systematic review. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2014;68(4):510-516. doi:10.1038/ejcn.2014.7.
      10. Block G, Jensen CD, Dalvi TB, et al. Vitamin C treatment reduces elevated C-reactive protein. Free Radic Biol Med. 2009;46(1):70-77.
    • Kyle Hilsabeck, PharmD., is the Vice President of Pharmaceutical Affairs at McCord Holdings and licensed by the Iowa Board of Pharmacy.  He completed bachelors degrees in biology and biochemistry at Wartburg College before earning his Doctorate of Pharmacy from the University of Iowa College of Pharmacy. Upon graduation, he completed a community pharmacy practice residency through the University of Iowa where he focused primarily on nutritional aspects of care including the use of vitamin, mineral, and herbal supplements.  He has taught courses for the University of Iowa College of Pharmacy on vitamins, minerals, herbs, and nutritional supplements and given many presentations on the subject as well.  He has a passion for improving patient care specifically with regards to the safety and quality of the nutritional supplements and health information people use. 


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