Vitamin E shields lungs from smog effects

Many people develop a shortness of breath, wheezing or other forms of respiratory discomfort with rising concentrations of ozone, the primary irritant in smog. And a study in the March 12 New England Journal of Medicine has now reported that chronic exposure to ozone significantly raises an individual’s risk of dying from lung disease.

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Many people develop a shortness of breath, wheezing or other forms of respiratory discomfort with rising concentrations of ozone, the primary irritant in smog. And a study in the March 12 New England Journal of Medicine has now reported that chronic exposure to ozone significantly raises an individual’s risk of dying from lung disease. Diet, however, can temper how lungs respond to air pollution, researchers reported this week. Among lung-guarding nutrients we all could use more of: gamma-tocopherol often referred to as the “other vitamin E.”

The typical American diet is actually ozone-friendly, meaning all too often it aids and abets pollution, noted researchers at the Society of Toxicology annual meeting in Baltimore, this week. But data they presented — mostly from animal studies — demonstrate how various dietary agents can boost the body’s defenses.

At least in rats, however, a heavy dose of gamma-tocopherol can prevent the aggravation by ozone of allergic airway disease, mucus production, nasal allergy symptoms and asthma. Wagner and his colleagues published a paper last year demonstrating these benefits. In animals that serve as a model of allergic airway disease, Wagner reported, ample gamma-tocopherol supplementation prevented almost every respiratory symptom that ozone worsened.

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