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Vitamin C May Reduce Damage Caused by Air Pollution

Air pollution is a big problem, especially in large cities, but a recent study suggests that maintaining high levels of vitamin C may reduce the effects of pollution, especially for people with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Specifically, the researchers found that every increase of 10 micrograms per cubic meter of coarse particulate matter resulted in a 35% increased risk for people with asthma or COPD of being admitted to the hospital. Additionally, those with low vitamin C levels were 1.2 times more likely to be admitted.

Coarse particulate matter is produced through the burning of fossil fuels. It has been linked to respiratory related hospital visits, chronic bronchitis, difficult or painful breathing and aggravated asthma.

The researchers looked at two hundred adults who were admitted to the hospital for asthma or COPD. The researchers recorded the air pollution on the day they entered the hospital, as well 14 days before and 14 days after.

Free radicals can form when air pollution enters the lungs, and the researchers believe that the antioxidant properties of vitamin C help protect against damage from these free radicals.

The study was conducted by researchers at Imperial College in London. It was published in the July 2012 issue of the journal Epidemiology.

Vitamin C is an essential nutrient that has been linked to numerous other health benefits including immune system function, heart health, brain health, eye health and improved mood. It can be found in high levels in citrus fruits and dark leafy greens such as cantaloupe, oranges, kiwis, papaya, broccoli and kale.

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