Vitamin C Supplement May Reduce Harmful Inflammation in Patients with Cystic Fibrosis

Patients with cystic fibrosis may benefit from a 1000 mg vitamin C supplement, which can increase the bioavailability of other antioxidants.

Vitamin C may lesson lung inflammation in patients with cystic fibrosis (CF), according to a new study published in the journal Nutrients. Researchers from Oregon State University (OSU) observed that vitamin C could help patients better use and increase their accessibility of vitamin E in the body, which is an antioxidant found to reduce harmful inflammation.

“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,” said study lead Maret Traber, the Linus Pauling Institute at OSU, in a press release.

CF, which results in lung inflammation and airway-blocking mucous buildup, may affect more than 160,000 people around the world. It is typically diagnosed in infants aged 2 years and younger and affects 40,000 people in the United States alone. Although there have been advanced treatments to mitigate the severity and risk of complications, the average lifespan of a CF patient is only 40 years.

CF patients must ingest greater amounts of fat-soluble vitamins to achieve normal blood concentrations, according Traber. Knowing this, OSU researchers aimed to understand whether supplementation with vitamin C could make it easier for CF patients to use fat-soluble vitamins, specifically vitamin E. In turn, this could reduce the increased oxidative stress that comes with inflammation.

“Low vitamin E levels plus high oxidative stress is a recipe for more inflammation, which can contribute to a range of negative health outcomes,” Traber said in the press release.

Patients took a daily 1000-mg dose of vitamin C for just under 4 weeks. The researchers looked at key oxidative stress biomarkers, malondialdehyde (MDA) found in the blood, and how long vitamin E was in the blood for. What they noticed were lower levers of MDA in the blood, and that vitamin A stayed concentrated in the blood for longer.

“Since vitamin E is hanging around longer, it might be able to get into tissues better, and better protect cell membranes from oxidative stress,” Traber said in the release.

Oxidative stress is caused by an imbalance between free radicals, and it can be fatal because it can cause harmful chemical reactions. To regain balance, the body will release antioxidants, which can make the free radicals less reactive and possibly less dangerous by donating an electron to stabilize the compound.

If CF patients can better absorb and use antioxidant vitamin E, they may have fewer free radicals, and thus less inflammation.

“This study used vitamin C far in excess of what someone can easily obtain from the diet,” she said. “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.”

Reference

Oregon State University. Cystic fibrosis patients can benefit from vitamin supplements, Oregon State research shows. EurekAlert! September 28, 2022. Accessed on November 14, 2022. https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/966291.