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BMJ Open 3:e002416 doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2012-002416
  • Respiratory medicine
    • Research

Vitamin C may alleviate exercise-induced bronchoconstriction: a meta-analysis

  1. Harri Hemilä
  1. Department of Public Health, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
  1. Correspondence to Dr Harri Hemilä; harri.hemila{at}helsinki.fi
  • Received 27 November 2012
  • Revised 16 May 2013
  • Accepted 17 May 2013
  • Published 7 June 2013

Abstract

Objective To determine whether vitamin C administration influences exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB).

Design Systematic review and meta-analysis.

Methods MEDLINE and Scopus were searched for placebo-controlled trials on vitamin C and EIB. The primary measures of vitamin C effect used in this study were: (1) the arithmetic difference and (2) the relative effect in the postexercise forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1) decline between the vitamin C and placebo periods. The relative effect of vitamin C administration on FEV1 was analysed by using linear modelling for two studies that reported full or partial individual-level data. The arithmetic differences and the relative effects were pooled by the inverse variance method. A secondary measure of the vitamin C effect was the difference in the proportion of participants suffering from EIB on the vitamin C and placebo days.

Results 3 placebo-controlled trials that studied the effect of vitamin C on EIB were identified. In all, they had 40 participants. The pooled effect estimate indicated a reduction of 8.4 percentage points (95% CI 4.6 to 12) in the postexercise FEV1 decline when vitamin C was administered before exercise. The pooled relative effect estimate indicated a 48% reduction (95% CI 33% to 64%) in the postexercise FEV1 decline when vitamin C was administered before exercise. One study needed imputations to include it in the meta-analyses, but it also reported that vitamin C decreased the proportion of participants who suffered from EIB by 50 percentage points (95% CI 23 to 68); this comparison did not need data imputations.

Conclusions Given the safety and low cost of vitamin C, and the positive findings for vitamin C administration in the three EIB studies, it seems reasonable for physically active people to test vitamin C when they have respiratory symptoms such as cough associated with exercise. Further research on the effects of vitamin C on EIB is warranted.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial License, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non commercial and is otherwise in compliance with the license. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/ and http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/legalcode

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