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Deborah Leader, RN

Vitamin C May Modify Harmful Effects of Air Pollution on the Lungs

By August 21, 2012

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There is growing evidence to support that particulate matter (PM) found in air pollution has a toxic effect on the lungs, giving rise to oxidative stress, a reaction that leads to inflammation and destruction of the alveoli.

A recent study investigated whether having high blood levels of the antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E, and uric acid, may modify the harmful effects of PM in patients with asthma and COPD.

The London-based study consisted of 209 patients (234 admissions) admitted to the hospital for asthma or COPD exacerbation between May, 2008 and July 2010. At the time of admission, PM levels in the area were taken and compared to PM levels 14 days before and 14 days after hospitalization.

Study findings revealed that, as the concentration of PM increased, so did hospital admissions for asthma and COPD exacerbation, with the highest effect noted between 0 to 3 days before an exacerbation occurred. Higher blood concentrations of Vitamin C seemed to modify the harmful effects of PM on asthma and COPD, with Vitamin E and uric acid having a similar, but much weaker influence.

The Vitamin C Foundation recommends taking 1000 milligrams of Vitamin C three times per day, totaling a whopping 3000 milligrams daily -- and even more during pregnancy or states of disease. This is much higher than the Government's recommendation, which for women, is only 75 mg per day and for men, 90 mg per day, with smokers needing to add an additional 35 mg per day. Because of the vast differences in these recommendations, it's always best to check with your health care provider to confirm which dose is best for you.

What foods should you eat to boost the Vitamin C levels in your blood? Take a look at the following list brought to you by , About.com's Guide to Pediatrics:

  • Red peppers
  • Papayas
  • Green peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Strawberries
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Citrus fruits (oranges, grape fruit, etc.)
  • Kiwi Fruit
  • Tomato Soup
  • Kellogg's Product 19 cereal
  • General Mill's Whole Grain Total cereal
  • Cantaloupe
  • Mango
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Raspberries
  • Spinach
  • Honeydew Melons
  • Potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Watermelon

Want more information about antioxidants, air pollution and COPD? Read on:


Canova C., et. al. PM10-induced hospital admissions for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: the modifying effect of individual characteristics. Epidemiology. 2012 Jul;23(4):607-15.

Iannelli,Vincent M.D. Vitamin C. Updated September 14, 2008.

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August 23, 2012 at 6:49 am
(1) trixie52 says:

Well that is great news. I always take 1000mg of Vitamin C each day along with my other vitamins. I eat plenty of fruit and veg in that list except I do draw the line at brussel sprouts because they are the one veg I hate! I manage one on Christmas Day if it is compulsory!!

August 24, 2012 at 2:40 pm
(2) copd says:

Trixie, the Vitamin C Foundations recommends 1000 mg, 3 times per day. I just added this fact to the blog post. This is much higher than the government’s recommendation, which for women over 19 years of age, is only 75 mg.

September 27, 2012 at 2:39 pm
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