Vitamin C may be beneficial in aiding respiratory issues

December 16, 2014

Topic: sports medicine

New findings in sports medicine concluded that vitamin C may help people dealing with respiratory issues.

New findings in sports medicine concluded that vitamin C may help people dealing with respiratory issues. Researchers from the University of Helsinki found that when people exercise, they create oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is when free radicals in the air and antioxidants in the body that process them are unbalanced, the National Center for Biotechnology Information stated. Vitamin C may ameliorate the levels of oxidative stress in people who are exercising. The nutrient may also help break down prostaglandins, histamine and cysteinyl leukotrienes, which contribute to the development of bronchoconstriction caused by exercise. The findings were published in the journal Allergies, Asthma and Clinical Immunology.

Learning about bronchoconstriction
The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology noted that exercise-induced bronchoconstriction is also known as exercise-induced asthma, and can be caused by several factors. Some common causes include cold air or air pollutants that can irritate the lungs. Heat and moisture can also affect the lungs and their air capacity. 

The condition often occurs when the airways become smaller because of physical activity. People may begin to cough, wheeze, have a tightened chest or be unable to fully exert themselves. Approximately 90 percent of people with asthma have exercise-induced bronchoconstriction, but not everyone with exercise-induced bronchoconstriction may have asthma. Normally, people are prescribed a medication or given an inhaler to help alleviate symptoms. Vitamin C may be the first to offer people a viable option that allows them to exercise comfortably without having to take a prescription pill each day. 

Researchers from the University of Helsinki analyzed several studies on the effects of vitamin C on exercise. Some studies revealed that vitamin C helped eliminate half of the present respiratory issues. Other studies showed that the nutrient cut the levels of FEV1 in half for people who dealt with bronchoconstriction after exercise. Another study on male competitive swimmers found that the amount of time symptoms were experienced were cut in half after they took vitamin C.

FEV1 is a calculated ratio that helps determine whether a person has bronchoconstriction. FEF25-75 is another type of ratio that can help indicate the condition. FEV1 examines the large-airway obstruction and FEF25-75 measures the small airways. So, aside from FEV1, this second ratio may help researchers discover more about the effects of vitamin C.

A positive influence
The researchers conducted a second analysis on another study of 12 people, all of whom had bronchoconstriction, asthma and were 26 years old. The study contained data from measurements before and after exercise with and without vitamin C, but it was not analyzed properly.

The scientists noted that in five of the 12 participants, the levels of FEF60 declined by more than 60 percent. The researchers noted that the severity of the drop is incredibly significant. Giving these participants vitamin C after their workout caused the levels of FEF60 to increase between 50 and 150 percent. The other seven participants in the group did not show statistically significant changes between the placebo and the vitamin C during exercise.

The researchers concluded that given the positive results from their analyses, they suggest that athletes and people with respiratory issues try out vitamin C for themselves, as the nutrient tends to be affordable and safe. 

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