The body needs vitamins and minerals, which are micronutrients, to perform a number of regular processes. These micronutrients must, however, be obtained from the food we eat because they are not generated by our bodies. Vitamin supplements cannot replace a healthy diet.
Women who are pregnant or nursing, individuals who drink more alcohol than is considered safe, those who use drugs, and the elderly may all need vitamin supplements. Organic compounds known as vitamins are often categorized as either fat-soluble or water-soluble.
According to a study performed by Oregon State University, cystic fibrosis patients who supplement their diets with vitamin C also benefit more from vitamin E, another antioxidant, which reduces harmful inflammation.
Because cystic fibrosis, which is characterized by lung inflammation and mucus buildup that blocks airways, affects more than 160,000 individuals globally, the findings, which were published in the journal Nutrients, are significant.
In the United States, the disorder that shortens life affects 40,000 people and is linked to recurrent lung infection. In the U.S., about 1,000 new instances are identified each year, with most patients being 2 years old or less.
Patients with cystic fibrosis still only have a 40-year median life expectancy, despite constant improvements in reducing complications. While taking a generic, “broad-spectrum,” vitamin and mineral supplement “just in case” carries no danger to one’s health and may help someone whose diet is restricted and monotonous, doing so is not advised in place of eating a healthy diet.
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. Low vitamin E levels plus high oxidative stress is a recipe for more inflammation, which can contribute to a range of negative health outcomes.Professor Maret Traber
“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 Maret Traber of OSU’s Linus Pauling Institute, who led the study.
Free radicals and antioxidants in the body are in an unbalanced ratio, which leads to oxidative stress and the potential for damaging chemical reactions. A free radical can get an electron from an antioxidant, which makes the free radical less reactive without making the antioxidant itself unstable.
“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, a professor in the Oregon State College of Public Health and Human Sciences. “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’ difficulties with fat absorption mean that they need to consume larger than usual amounts of fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin E, Traber said. Patients need at least 400 milligrams of vitamin E daily to achieve normal blood concentrations, she said.
The purpose of this study was to determine whether vitamin C supplements could aid patients in making better utilization of the absorbed vitamin E. According to Traber, vitamin C is useful for recycling oxidized forms of vitamin E and for reducing the oxidative stress components of inflammation.
Before the 1930s, when commercially produced supplements of several vitamins became accessible, people could only get their vitamins from food. In an effort to combat the widespread nutritional inadequacies of the day, the U.S. government also started fortifying foods with specific nutrients. Examples include adding folic acid to grain products to prevent birth abnormalities during pregnancy and iodine to salt to prevent goiter.
After 3½ weeks of daily 1,000-milligram doses of vitamin C, the patients in the study trended toward lower blood concentrations of a key oxidative stress biomarker, malondialdehyde or MDA, and also toward a slowdown in vitamin E elimination from the bloodstream.
“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.
Patients with cystic fibrosis are not the only ones who can benefit from the research, she pointed out, which was published in the journal Nutrients. Smokers, for instance, frequently have oxidative stress-related issues and may benefit from additional vitamin C and maybe additional vitamin E. Patients with metabolic syndrome also have problems with vitamin C and E.
To prevent deficiencies, most vitamins and multivitamins were sold to the general public in the 1950s. Some of these products were heavily advertised in popular periodicals, such cod liver oil with vitamin D, which was marketed as bottled sunshine.
“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.”
Scott Leonard of the Linus Pauling Institute also contributed to the research, as did physicians from the University of California, Davis, and scientists from India’s Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda and Canada’s Brock University.