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Vitamin E may help us breathing.

Vitamin E May Help Us Breathing

With onset of summer, the ozone alert season will arrive signaling a period when high levels of the pollutant can be expected to cause serious health problems.

The threat of ozone pollution is particularly high when frequent sunshine promotes the formation of photochemical smog.

Ozone is one of the most noxious pollutants in the air around us. Formed from the reaction between hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides in the presence of warm temperatures and bright sunlight, concentration as low as one part per million can cause upper-respiratory tract irritation, headaches and chest pain. Long-term ozone exposure has been associated with lung cancer, accelerated aging and emphysema.

Yet, every day, millions of Americans breathe concentrations of ozone that average two to four times the acceptable amount. Since we must breathe to live, what can we do protect ourselves against high ozone levels?

Scientific studies conducted over the last decade show that antioxidant nutrients such as vitamin E may offer one answer. Studies have demonstrated that vitamin E protects against ozone-caused oxidative damage to the lungs.

In a recent study at UCLA, laboratory subjects were divided into three groups: one received about the same proportion of vitamin E as that found in the average human diet. The other groups were fed five and fifty times that amount. After five weeks, the test subjects were exposed to high levels of ozone.

The result: those receiving more vitamin E suffered less lung damage than those that were fed an amount comparable to the average America diet.

The results suggest that an absence of vitamin E exacerbates lung injury from ozone inhalation, while its presence protects from injury. When we are exposed to polluted air, the need for vitamin E protection is increased.

While 10 to 15 IUs of vitamin E may be adequate to prevent damage to the lungs and other membranes of the human body under normal air quality conditions, this amount may not be adequate for protection against high levels of ozone pollution.
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Publication:Nutrition Health Review
Date:Mar 22, 1990
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