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Vitamin C

Your body uses this vitamin, found in oranges and other citrus fruits, for a number of different purposes. Vitamin C helps to produce collagen -- the building block of skin, cartilage, ligaments, and blood vessels, and it protects against harmful substances that contribute to disease. Vitamin C is an effective antioxidant and studies suggest that it has some anti-inflammatory benefits.

The evidence:

  • Taking vitamin C supplements may significantly lower levels of CRP (c-reactive protein), research finds. Whether having lower levels of this inflammatory marker might translate into a lower risk for heart disease remains to be seen, however.

Vitamin D

The same vitamin that works with calcium to strengthen bones can also protect against inflammation. Vitamin D can be found in fish, liver, beef, egg yolks, and some fortified foods. Vitamin D is also produced in the body when the skin is exposed to sunlight.

The evidence:

  • Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to a number of inflammatory diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, inflammatory bowel disease, and type 1 diabetes. Taking vitamin D supplements may help reduce inflammation in people with these conditions, although this hasn't been proven. It's also unclear whether or not taking vitamin D supplements can prevent any of these conditions. Vitamin D deficiency may even increase levels of inflammatory markers in healthy people.
  • Vitamin D supplements may also reduce the inflammation associated with age-related diseases.
  • One study found that people with the highest vitamin D levels had a 40% lower risk of colon cancer than those who had the lowest level of this vitamin. However, it's not yet clear whether taking vitamin D supplements can actually lower cancer risk.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is another antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties. Common food sources include nuts, seeds, and green leafy vegetables.

The evidence:

  • Vitamin E comes in several different forms. The alpha-tocopherol type may help prevent heart disease by slowing the release of inflammatory substances that damage the heart.
  • Alpha-tocopherol also might be effective for easing lung inflammation related to allergies. However, because studies were conducted on animals, it's not yet clear whether the results will translate to humans.

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