Your lungs are a vital part of your respiratory system, working with other organs to help you breathe – and live. Doing what you can to maintain optimal lung health is important to ensure your body gets the oxygen it needs. There are many factors that can affect lung health, including lifestyle choices, environment and diet.
This guide will share some of the best vitamins and supplements to keep your respiratory system in top shape during the winter and throughout the year.
Why Respiratory Health is Important
Your lungs perform many functions in addition to the gas exchange that occurs during regular breathing. Your respiratory health is important because:
• It brings the air you inhale to the right temperature and humidity level.
• It protects your body from harmful substances through coughing and sneezing.
• It supports your sense of smell when your nasal passages are clear.
• Oxygen is essential for every cell in your body and keeps all of your organs functioning.
Ultimately, poor respiratory health can lead to long-term illness and disease, so taking the right steps to keep your lungs healthy is crucial.
10 Vitamins & Supplements for Lung Health
One of the best ways to improve any body system is to make sure it is getting the nutrients it needs to function at its best. The following supplements promote a healthy respiratory system.
1. Vitamin A
You can find vitamin A in eggs and its precursor beta carotene in orange and yellow fruits and vegetables. It plays a large role in supporting the body’s immune system because it promotes regeneration of cells. Increasing your intake of vitamin A promotes the natural healing and repair of the tissue in your lungs.
2. Vitamin D
It’s difficult to get the vitamin D your body needs from food. Fatty fish like salmon and tuna, as well as fish oils, are among the best of very few natural sources. Our bodies create vitamin D from exposure to sunlight. However, it can be difficult to get enough sunlight during the winter months. Getting the right amount of vitamin D is especially important for your bone density and strength, but it also helps prevent respiratory tract infections.
Turmeric is a flowering plant related to ginger, and its roots make a tasty addition to many dishes. It’s also the main ingredient in curry powder. Research shows turmeric, and its active compound curcumin, breaks down mucus, so your respiratory system can expel it from your airways. Less mucus in your system can reduce coughing and help you breathe more easily.
Quercetin is a flavonoid found in many plants you eat such as onions, apples, and berries. You can also get quercetin from red wine and green tea. Research shows that including quercetin in your diet decreases the risk of developing asthma and suffering from other respiratory issues. It also lowers your chances of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Garlic has long been touted as a superfood that helps the body in several ways, especially when consumed raw. The active chemicals in garlic have been found to help fight bacteria in the lungs that lead to infections. Additionally, research shows that eating raw garlic is protective in the development of lung cancer.
Oregano is a popular herb, related to mint, that many have in their kitchens and use in pasta dishes and tomato sauce. It is often the go-to natural remedy for respiratory tract disorders including croup, bronchitis and asthma. Some of the herb’s chemicals help reduce coughing and spasms in the lungs.
Citrus bioflavonoids are compounds found naturally in oranges, grapefruit and other citrus fruits. They are antioxidants that protect the human body against damage from free radicals. Citrus bioflavonoids may be especially beneficial for allergic reactions such as asthma, and similar respiratory conditions.
Zinc is an essential mineral that is found mainly in animal products, including red meat, poultry and shellfish. It can also found in smaller quantities in legumes. Getting enough zinc for your body helps decrease your chances of lower respiratory tract infections because it promotes several immune functions, such as protecting respiratory cells when the lungs are inflamed or injured.
9. Vitamin C
Most people think of oranges and citrus fruits when they think about vitamin C consumption, but several other foods – including cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cantaloupe and strawberries – are also sources. Research shows that vitamin C may protect the lungs in several ways that reduce the chances of lung infections and help in the prevention of COPD.
N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC) is a supplement that does not have a natural source. It is derived from L-cysteine, which is an amino acid, and has been especially successful in helping COPD patients manage their symptoms. It can be used for other lung conditions or respiratory infections because it helps reduce mucus discharge.
You can find the vitamins, minerals and herbs listed above in many of the foods you eat, but it’s sometimes difficult to get everything your respiratory system needs on a daily basis. Taking supplements helps ensure that you get the nutrients you need for optimal respiratory health.
Other Steps You Can Take to Promote Lung Health
Supplements work best when you combine them with other healthy habits. Here are some examples of habits that improve lung health:
• Get plenty of exercise.
• Eat a healthy diet.
• Practice deep breathing exercises.
• Stay hydrated.
• Don’t smoke.
• Avoid indoor pollutants.
• Maintain good hygiene to prevent infections.
• Go to your doctor for regular check-ups.
Healthy lungs are important all year long, but you need to take special care to keep them strong in the winter. Taking vitamins and supplements and following healthy habits can ensure your respiratory system runs smoothly throughout the year. Contact Village Green Apothecary to speak with an expert about any questions you have about supplements for lung health.