People with cystic fibrosis can benefit from supplementing their diet with antioxidant supplements such as vitamin C and possibly vitamin E to reduce inflammation, according to a new study. This is good news as it’s now easy to manage cystic fibrosis as over 40,000 people’s lives are affected in the United States with more than 160,000 people globally. 

Cystic fibrosis is mainly characterized by an amplified inflammation and mucus buildup in the lungs, as well as microbial infections. Researchers believe that the oxidative stress due to inflammation in cystic fibrosis is followed by a further decrease in Vitamin E levels. Their findings suggest that more intake of vitamin C supplements tends to increase the blood concentration of vitamin E and lower oxidative stress.

It’s worth noting that patients with cystic fibrosis find it hard to absorb fat. As a result, the intake of vitamin E which is only soluble in fat is impaired. This results in low vitamin E levels which could be disastrous and when combined with high oxidative stress worsens the inflammation — causing harm to health. 

For this reason, the study emphasizes the importance of patients boosting their intake of fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin E supplements. Prior studies suggest vitamin E supplements be taken at a dose of 400mg daily to attain normal blood concentrations.

Methodology & Results

The researchers from Oregon State University aimed to focus on examining the interplay of Vitamin C supplements with how Vitamin E is concentrated in the blood. To achieve this, they set up their study with the help of 6 adult patients diagnosed with CF, aged 23 to 31 years. They were recruited from the UC Davis Adult CF Clinic of which 3 were male and the other half, females.

For 3 months, the participants were asked to visit the clinic regularly to measure their blood concentrations. They were given 100mg doses of Vitamin E capsules along with a meal high in 30 percent fat. Their blood samples were collected before breakfast at intervals for 3 days. This was done to gauge the level of vitamin E concentrations in the blood.

The participants were then subjected to a daily intake of 1000mg of vitamin C tabs for three and a half weeks. In the end, the researchers reviewed the blood samples and found that the blood concentration of the key indicator of oxidative stress, malondialdehyde (MDA), was lowered after taking vitamin C supplements.

The team also found that the rapid clearance of vitamin E from the bloodstream (correlated with cystic fibrosis), was slowed upon vitamin C supplementation. Vitamin E then becomes retained a bit longer in the bloodstream. According to the study authors, this translates to extra time to penetrate more into the tissues and increase the protection of cell membranes from oxidative stress. 

Notably, though, the authors also believe these findings are useful to smokers likewise those with metabolic syndrome. Like CF patients, smokers are exposed to oxidative stress as their elimination rate of vitamin E is 40 percent more than those that don’t smoke. They, therefore, suggest smokers will also gain from more intake of vitamin C and Vitamin E supplements.

“It would seem to be clinically prudent for CF clinicians and nutritionists to recognize the importance of dietary and supplemental vitamin C levels and their possible impact on Vitamin E in the blood of both patients who are malnourished and/or experiencing severe exacerbations of their cystic fibrosis disease”, the authors concluded.

The researchers, however, see the need to conduct future studies to determine whether those with cystic fibrosis, specifically advanced lung diseases, will benefit from vitamin C supplementation.

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