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Antioxidant supplements may reduce respiratory diseases in patients with cystic fibrosis

Antioxidant supplements may reduce respiratory diseases in patients with cystic fibrosisSupplementing with strong antioxidants such as beta-carotene, vitamin E, selenium, and coenzyme Q10 may help patients with cystic fibrosis by reducing a number of the respiratory infections that come with the disease. This was seen in a study by researchers at the Children’s Hospital Colorado and the University of Colorado, United States.

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is the most common hereditary disease in Western Europe. The diseased gene causes a malfunction of the sodium transport in certain cell types in the lungs, the pancreas, and the sweat glands. The symptoms primarily originate from the respiratory tract and the pancreas.
The malfunctioning sodium transport produces thick mucus in the airways, which is why the airways are more easily infected with bacteria, typically staphylococcus and pseudomonas. The average life expectancy for CF sufferers is currently around 40 years.
The harmful impact on the pancreas especially affects the digestive system.

Symptoms typically show in the first years of life and include:

  • Shortness of breath (especially when exercising or straining oneself)
  • Recurrent lung infections that are difficult to treat
  • Greasy stools and weight loss
  • Increased salt concentration in the sweat
  • Increased risk of heat stroke at high temperatures

Half as many respiratory infections

In the new study, the scientists from Colorado wanted to investigate how a cocktail of different antioxidants affected the immune defense and health of patients with cystic fibrosis. The countless respiratory infections and local inflammation that accompany the disease play a major role in the destruction of the lungs and the deterioration of the respiratory functions.
The study lasted for more than 16 weeks and included 73 patients from the age of 10 years and older. The average age was 22 years. All patients had impaired pancreas function and already had difficulty with absorbing antioxidants from the diet – including such antioxidants as beta-carotene (a precursor of vitamin A), vitamin E, coenzyme Q10, and selenium, which are normally needed to support the immune system and help the body fight inflammation.
In order to counter the problem with poor nutrient absorption, the scientists made sure to administer the mentioned antioxidants in capsules that were specially designed for people who have difficulty with absorbing fat and protein. The group of cystic fibrosis patients who served as a control group got a regular multivitamin pill that did not include the listed antioxidants.
The study participants tolerated the antioxidant supplements very well, and the scientists could measure increasing levels of antioxidants in their blood. After four weeks, the antioxidants were able to reduce inflammation, while this was not the case after 16 weeks.
It appeared that the antioxidants were able to delay the onset of the first respiratory infection, which normally requires antibiotics. They were also able to reduce the expected duration of the respiratory infections.
Over the course of the 16 weeks, 50 percent fewer patients in the antioxidant group developed respiratory infections that required antibiotics compared with the group that did not get antioxidants

The first study where CF patients get an antioxidant cocktail

Earlier studies where patients with cystic fibrosis received antioxidants have produced mixed results. According to researcher, Scott D. Sagel, ph. D, there still is no well-designed, placebo-controlled study of CF patients who have been given a cocktail of antioxidants that was easy for them to absorb.
Although more research is needed in order to find a proper treatment that works in the long run, Sagel assumes that supplementation with the mentioned antioxidants may delay the onset of respiratory diseases in patients with cystic fibrosis. Antioxidant supplements constitute a relatively easy and inexpensive way to maintain normal blood levels of antioxidants in patients, who would otherwise be challenged.
The study is published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Medicine.

Choose supplements with documented quality

The market for nutritional supplements is a jungle, and it is easy to get lost. Always make sure to choose supplements with documented quality, and which the body can easily absorb and utilize. For instance, the body cannot absorb the Q10 molecules from normal supplements, unless the raw material has been exposed to a special pretreatment using different oils and a heating technique. Also, it is important to take selenium yeast that contains many different organic selenium species, which is similar to the natural selenium variety you get from eating a balanced diet. The quality, processing, and delivery of the raw materials are of utmost importance to the bioavailability and effect of the preparations.


Children´s Hospital Colorado. Antioxidant-enriched vitamin reduces respiratory illnesses in patients with cystic fibrosis. ScienceDaily may 23, 2018

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