According to a new study by Northwestern Medicine, vitamin E-rich oils — including canola, soybean and corn — could be contributing to the rising incidence of lung inflammation, airway hyperresponsiveness and possibly asthma.

In contrast, vitamin E-rich oils such as olive oil, wheat germ oil, almond and sunflower oil improve lung capacity and function.

Vitamin E exists as an antioxidant that protects the body from free radicals that can harm cells, tissues and organs. Vitamin E maintains the immune system, to discourage viruses and bacteria. It is also significant in the formation of red blood cells and helps the body utilize vitamin K.

Senior author of the study Joan Cook-Mills analyzed spirometry data to measure lung function and capacity in years 0, 2, 5, 10 and 20, and tocopherol type levels present in the participants’ blood, in years 0, 7 and 15.

Cook-Mills found that higher concentrations of gamma-tocopherol in the blood plasma indicated a 10-17% reduction in lung function.