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Vitamins that support lung function

Building a strong immune system to keep your respiratory tract in top form is something anyone can do to take ownership of their health.

NEW ORLEANS — On March 13, the Wall Street Journal published a Special Report, "Navigating the Coronavirus," which provided background information explaining what the coronavirus is, its origin and symptoms. 

Seven strains of coronavirus, notes the Journal, are known to infect humans – through the respiratory (breathing) tract, specifically the lower respiratory tract. Four of the corona strains cause common colds, while two strains are considered quite severe human infections – causing acute respiratory syndrome (MERS).

The current virus – Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (coronavirus 2) - causes the disease COVID-19 ("19" for its 2019 origin). The virus presents initially with a fever, shortness of breath, and potential complications with pneumonia. It may also cause fatigue, sore throat, headache, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Some individuals have only a mild illness for several days, then deteriorate to pneumonia, while others who are infected don’t get ill at all. 

Proper hygiene – washing hands regularly, social distancing, and following all of the prevention strategies presented by the Centers for Disease Control is critical. When in doubt, turn to your healthcare provider for guidance.

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Building a strong immune system to keep your respiratory tract in top form is something anyone can do to take ownership of their health. Here are four vitamins demonstrated to assist proper lung function.

Vitamin D, a fat-soluble vitamin, status depends on age, sunlight exposure, and consumption of foods like fortified dairy products and salmon. The National Institutes of Health suggests a daily intake in a range of 600 to 800 international units (IU) – age specific. A Vitamin D blood test may significantly alter that range.

The Busselton Healthy Ageing Study, which involved 5,000 subjects, determined that, “low levels of serum 25OH-D (measured in the blood) were independently associated with asthma, bronchitis, wheeze and chest tightness, after three levels of adjustment for potential confounders. Higher Vitamin D levels were associated with higher levels of lung function.”

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Vitamin A, a fat-soluble vitamin found in many vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, and spinach, “plays a substantial role, especially in the respiratory epithelium and the lung. During moderate vitamin-A-deficiency, the incidence for diseases of the respiratory tract is considerably increased and repeated respiratory infections can be influenced therapeutically by a moderate vitamin-A-supplementation,” according to a 2003 study - Importance of Vitamin A for Lung Function – authored by researchers at the Department of Biological Chemistry and Nutrition at the University of Hohenheim in Germany.

Mayoclinic.org notes the adult Vitamin A recommended daily allowance to be 3,000iu’s for men and 2,300iu’s for women (not pregnant).

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Vitamin C, found in strawberries, oranges, and tomatoes, is best known for its immune modulating effect and collagen support. A 2014 study in the journal Allergy, Asthma & Clinical Immunology said, Vitamin C supports lung function and reduces exercise induced respiratory symptoms significantly.

The Mayo Clinic says the, “(adult) recommended daily amount for Vitamin C is 65 to 90 milligrams (mg) a day, and the upper limit is 2,000 mg.” Increased stress on the body may adjust that requirement accordingly.

Vitamin E, also a fat-soluble vitamin found vegetable oils, avocado, nuts, spinach, and whole grains, reduces inflammation, according to a 2017 study that appeared in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for vitamin E is 15 milligrams (or 22.4 International Units, or IU) for people over age 14, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

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You start with a balanced eating plan and support it with a good multi-vitamin/mineral formula. Add a dose of aerobic exercise to the plan. Go to mackieshilstone.com for more wellness information and sign up for my free, weekly Mackie Mail wellness updates.

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