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CORVALLIS, Ore. – Cystic fibrosis, being the aggressive disease that it is, often presents new clinical obstacles tied to treatment. Now, a new study by Oregon State University researchers may help improve patient outcomes, revealing that CF patients who take vitamin C supplements can help increase their uptake of vitamin E, which reduces inflammation.

Over 160,000 people around the world have this condition, cutting their lifespan to a fraction of what it could be. The disease inflames the lungs and fills the airway with mucus, putting incredible amounts of stress on the body.

“Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease that is associated with increased inflammation, and like many inflammatory diseases, it comes with a large amount of oxidative stress,” says Maret Traber of OSU’s Linus Pauling Institute in a university release.

Traber also notes that CF patients have difficulty absorbing fat, limiting their body’s ability to use fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin E. This generally means that this patient population has to take in more fat than an average person to break even. Studies have connected vitamin C to reducing inflammation and making use of oxidized vitamin E that the body wouldn’t otherwise absorb.

The team found that after 3.5 weeks of daily vitamin C supplementation at a dose of 1,000 milligrams, the patients had lower concentrations of malondialdehyde (MDA), which is a marker of oxidative stress. Additionally, they noticed that vitamin E wasn’t leaving the bloodstream as quickly.

Smokers may also benefit from taking supplements

These findings aren’t just promising for CF patients, but also for smokers and people with metabolic syndrome since they normally also struggle with oxidative stress in their bodies, which may also suggest that vitamin C and E supplements could help them find relief. Traber also explains that while this study reinforces that getting ample vitamin C and E through a varied and nutritious diet is important, the effects have more to do with adding high amounts of vitamin C to a healthy diet.

Since these are some of the biggest issues to tackle in people with CF, further researching this can help improve quality of life in people that struggle with this disease.

“This study used vitamin C far in excess of what someone can easily obtain from the diet,” Traber concludes. “One thousand milligrams is the equivalent of 15 oranges or four or five medium bell peppers. But the research does suggest a high dosage may be beneficial in inflammatory conditions.”

The findings appear in the journal Nutrients.

You may also be interested in the best Vitamin C serums.

About Shyla Cadogan, RD

Shyla Cadogan is a DMV-Based acute care Registered Dietitian. She holds specialized interests in integrative nutrition and communicating nutrition concepts in a nuanced, approachable way.

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