Astronauts are exposed to more radiation than nuclear power plant workers. As a result, NASA has recommended taking vitamin supplements to mitigate any potential side effects.
Along with the anti-radiation drug potassium iodide, scientists recommend a vitamin pill to plug any nutritional deficiencies in the Recommended Dietary Allowance, a standard established by the U.S. National Academy Sciences in 1941.
"There are ways to greatly modify the radiation response," Discovery News quoted Ann Kennedy, head of the NASA-backed National Space Biomedical Research Institute's Radiation Effects Team, as saying.
"(Vitamin) deficiencies appear to be extremely important in determining radiation effects and basically determining the incidences of many, many, many chronic diseases, which would include cancer and cataracts," said Kennedy, a radiation oncology professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.
"It used to be viewed by the AMA (American Medical Association) that a good diet containing all the usual levels of RDAs of things was enough and you really didn't need a vitamin pill," she added.
"Well, they've basically reversed themselves over the past several years and are making the statement that every American should be taking a daily vitamin pill for the prevention of chronic diseases-and that includes cancer."
"I've certainly recommended that for people on the space station, as well as anyone else at NASA that's flying and has a very high occupational radiation exposure and I would certainly recommend that for all those in Japan exposed to higher than normal doses of radiation," she said.
"I think it's just as important for them to be getting a vitamin tablet every day as it is to be taking potassium iodide." (ANI)