Vitamin Supplements May Help Asthmatics Cope With Air Pollution

May 20, 1997

SAN FRANCISCO--Simply taking antioxidant vitamins could help asthmatics exposed to polluted air breathe easier.

Preliminary results of a double blind study indicate that adults with asthma who took daily supplements of both vitamins E and C showed improved pulmonary function, compared to when they took a placebo, after being exposed to two common air pollutants, ozone and sulfur dioxide.

Ozone is formed from precursors in automobile exhaust, while sulfur dioxide is emitted from pulp mills, coal burning and other industrial processes.

"Our results show that a combination of antioxidant vitamins can benefit people with asthma who are sensitive to air pollutants," said lead author Dr. Carol Trenga, who conducted the study while completing doctoral research at the University of Washington School of Public Health and Community Medicine. Co-author of the study is Dr. Jane Koenig, an international expert on the respiratory health effects of air pollution.

Trenga presented her preliminary findings on Tuesday, May 20, at the American Lung Association/American Thoracic Society International Conference.

The study monitored pulmonary function in 17 asthmatic volunteers, who took a daily course of vitamins E and C (400 I.U. and 500 mg., respectively) and a daily course of placebo for separate five-week periods.

Near the end of each course, participants received separate, 45-minute exposures to purified air and ozone at the current National Ambient Air Quality Standard (0.12 p.p. million). To measure effects of ozone exposure, volunteers then were exposed to two 10-minute sulfur dioxide challenges.

Test results showed an overall decrease in sensitivity to ozone exposure when volunteers took vitamins as compared to placebo. Improvements in pulmonary function were especially dramatic in a subset of six volunteers. While on vitamin supplementation, this group had a 5 percent increase in peak expiratory flow during the sulfur dioxide challenges after ozone exposure compared to a 13 percent decrease in peak expiratory flow for the same period while on placebo. These volunteers were previously identified as more sensitive to sulfur dioxide.

Trenga explains vitamins E, which is fat soluble, and C, which is water soluble, complement one another, helping increase the potential to reduce oxidative damage in the lungs. When polluted air comes in contact with the lung lining fluid, vitamin C is part of the body's first line of defense, serving to reduce both ozone and free radicals formed by ozone exposure. Vitamin E helps reduce lipid radicals and can be regenerated by vitamin C.

People with asthma may not be the only ones who could benefit from antioxidant vitamin supplements. Increases in daily vitamin intake may also benefit others exposed to chronic oxidative stress--such as smokers or industrial workers, Trenga said.

She adds that future research should focus on linkages between nutritional factors and toxicity and disease. This would include investigating whether regular antioxidant vitamin intake could ultimately reduce the need for medication or frequency of use among people with asthma.
-end-


University of Washington

Related Asthma Articles from Brightsurf:

Breastfeeding and risks of allergies and asthma
In an Acta Paediatrica study, exclusive breastfeeding for the first 3 months was linked with a lower risk of respiratory allergies and asthma when children reached 6 years of age.

Researchers make asthma breakthrough
Researchers from Trinity College Dublin have made a breakthrough that may eventually lead to improved therapeutic options for people living with asthma.

Physics vs. asthma
A research team from the MIPT Center for Molecular Mechanisms of Aging and Age-Related Diseases has collaborated with colleagues from the U.S., Canada, France, and Germany to determine the spatial structure of the CysLT1 receptor.

New knowledge on the development of asthma
Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have studied which genes are expressed in overactive immune cells in mice with asthma-like inflammation of the airways.

Eating fish may help prevent asthma
A scientist from James Cook University in Australia says an innovative study has revealed new evidence that eating fish can help prevent asthma.

Academic performance of urban children with asthma worse than peers without asthma
A new study published in Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology shows urban children with poorly controlled asthma, particularly those who are ethnic minorities, also suffer academically.

Asthma Controller Step Down Yardstick -- treatment guidance for when asthma improves
The focus for asthma treatment is often stepping up treatment, but clinicians need to know how to step down therapy when symptoms improve.

Asthma management tools improve asthma control and reduce hospital visits
A set of comprehensive asthma management tools helps decrease asthma-related visits to the emergency department, urgent care or hospital and improves patients' asthma control.

Asthma linked to infertility but not among women taking regular asthma preventers
Women with asthma who only use short-acting asthma relievers take longer to become pregnant than other women, according to research published in the European Respiratory Journal.

What are the best ways to diagnose and manage asthma?
A team of experts from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston examined the current information available from many different sources on diagnosing and managing mild to moderate asthma in adults and summarized them.

Read More: Asthma News and Asthma Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.