Although childhood asthma has been increasing in recent years, children with higher blood levels of important antioxidant nutrients are less likely to develop asthma, according to a large study in the February 1, 2004 American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. The study looked at over 6,000 children aged 4 to 16 years.
Separate analyses showed that those in the top 16 percent of vitamin C, beta carotene, and selenium in the blood tests were all 10 to 20 percent less likely to develop asthma than their peers. Even more dramatically, high selenium levels cut the risk of asthma in half among children exposed to tobacco smoke. Selenium is found in many foods, including meat, seafood, eggs, bran, whole wheat, oats, walnuts, garlic, and brown rice – it is often destroyed in food processing. Beta carotene gives yellow and orange fruits and vegetables their vibrant colors. It’s also in green leafy vegetables. Getting it in the diet is far more effective than any vitamin or supplement. Vitamin C is abundant in many foods, including citrus fruits, greens, broccoli, sweet potatoes, bell peppers, tomatoes, cantaloupe, and strawberries. This study is another good reason to help our children to enjoy eating delicious whole foods – fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and lean sources of protein.