'Vitamin C protects against COPD
Many of us are familiar with TV ads promoting drugs to treat the symptoms of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Smoking is a big risk factor because oxidative toxins in smoke can damage the lungs. But recent research shows that vitamin C can reduce the risk of COPD. In a recent study, heavy smokers who had the highest intake of vitamin C in their diet (more than 140 mg/day) had a 77% reduction in risk for COPD compared to those with low intake. Other nutrients were helpful too, such as retinol (a vitamin A precursor found in egg yolks, butter, and liver) and carotene (another vitamin A precursor found in carrots and other orange and dark green vegetables). The authors suggest that these essential antioxidants improve the immune response and are responsible for antioxidant defenses in the lungs that aid recovery from inhaling toxins in smoke. The mechanism is thought to be in part vitamin C's ability to restore vascular endothelial growth factor levels and proliferation of alveolar cells in the lungs.'