BACKGROUND: Previous research has shown that patients with Crohn's disease, an inflammatory bowel disease, experience elevated levels of oxidative stress. This oxidative stress is the result of excess free radicals, a byproduct of intestinal inflammation in patients with Crohn's disease.
RESEARCH: Researchers asked 57 patients with stable or mild Crohn's disease to take either placebos or a combination of vitamin E (800 IU) and vitamin C (1,000 mg) daily for four weeks. Levels of several indicators of free radical activity were measured at the beginning and end of the study.
RESULTS: Patients taking vitamins E and C had a significant decrease in oxidative stress levels, as measured by lower levels of breath pentane and ethane, as well as lower levels of blood lipid peroxides and isoprostanes, thus indicating a lessening of their oxidative stress. The researchers wrote that "patients with inactive or mildly active Crohn's disease can be oxidatively stressed and have increased requirement in antioxidant vitamins."
IMPLICATIONS: Although supplements of vitamins E and C reduced oxidative stress, disease activity remained stable in this short-term study. A longer study might determine whether antioxidant supplements could reduce disease symptoms.
Aghdassi E, Wendland BE, Steinhart AH, et al, "Antioxidant vitamin supplementation in Crohn's disease decreases oxidative stress: A randomized controlled trial," American Journal of Gastroenterology, 2003; 98:348-353.
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