Antioxidants and Asthma in Children.




Am J Resp Crit Care Med

Related Monographs

Consumer Data: Asthma Vitamin C Vitamin E
Professional Data: Asthma Vitamin C Vitamin E


Asthma is a common lung condition in the industrialized world, one that impacts the lives of adults and children alike. Asthma threatens one's essential ability to breathe, to take in oxygen, our most basic and urgent survival need. We cannot live without air for more than a few minutes. Choke off our air supply, and we quickly become frightened and desperate, to the point of panic. It is easy to understand why asthma is one of the most taxing, debilitating health problems a human being can face, both physically and mentally.

The most significant characteristic of asthma is a narrowing of the trachea (the "windpipe") and bronchial passages in response to some stimulus. In asthma, the airways are over-responsive. Things that cause no breathing problems whatsoever for most of us can provoke the airways to constrict. These may be external stimuli like pollen, dust, and even cold air. Or, the stimulus may be something internal, like a nutritional deficiency or emotional stress. Whatever the trigger, all asthma attacks have the same scenario in common: the airways become extremely irritated and overreact by going into spasm.1

A recent study, conducted in Mexico City, Mexico, examined the potential role of vitamin C and vitamin E supplementation in children with asthma. 158 children with asthma who were exposed to high levels of air pollutants were recruited for this study. Children were then given a supplement of 50 mg of vitamin E and 250 mg of vitamin C or a placebo daily. The children were followed for an average of 2 years. Lung function tests were performed twice a week in the morning. The results indicated that in children with moderate to severe asthma, antioxidants might aid in the impact of air pollutants, especially ozone in lung function.2


1. American Thoracic Society. Committee on diagnostic standards for non-tuberculosis respiratory disease: Definition and classification of chronic bronchitis, asthma, and pulmonary edema. Am Rev Resp Dis. 1962;85:762.
2. Romieu I, et al. Antioxidant Supplementation and Lung Functions among Children with Asthma Exposed to High Levels of Air Pollutants. Am J Resp Crit Care Med. Sep 2002;166:703-9.