Vitamin supplements may help reduce inflammation in patients with cystic fibrosis

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A recent study found a reduction of damaging inflammation in patient with cystic fibrosis who supplemented their diet with vitamin C and vitamin E.

The study was conducted by researchers from Oregon State University (OSU) and published in the journal, Nutrients. Maret Traber, PhD, lead author of the study and a professor at the Linus Pauling Institute at OSU, and a team of researchers set out to discover whether vitamin C would help cystic fibrosis patients better absorb vitamin E.

According to researchers, vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant that helps facilitate fat absorption in patients with several conditions including cystic fibrosis. The study’s authors defined cystic fibrosis as a life-shortening condition that causes persistent lung infections due to lung inflammation and the buildup of airway-blocking mucous.

With many inflammatory diseases, including cystic fibrosis, comes an excess of oxidative stress, Traber said, which can lead to harmful chemical reactions and antioxidants due to an imbalance of free radicals within the body.

“In addition to oxidative stress, cystic fibrosis is also characterized by problems with fat absorption, which limits uptake of vitamin E, a fat-soluble antioxidant,” said Traber in a statement. “Low vitamin E levels plus high oxidative stress is a recipe for more inflammation, which can contribute to a range of negative health outcomes.”

Patients who struggle with fat absorption need to consume more fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin E to achieve normal blood concentration, Traber said. For her investigation, she examined vitamin C’s impact on the absorption of vitamin E as well as oxidative stress and inflammation. Patients in the study took 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C daily for three and a half weeks.

The study’s results showed that after the trial period, participants tended to have lower blood concentrations of malondialdehyde (MDA), a biomarker of oxidative stress. In addition, the study found the elimination of vitamin E was slowed down in the bloodstream of patients.

According to Traber, these results suggest that a high dose of vitamin C, which can be obtained through diet or supplements, may be helpful for patients with cystic fibrosis and other conditions involving oxidative stress like metabolic syndrome.