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Vitamins that improve your breathing
All those vitamins aren't to keep death at bay, they're to keep deterioration at bay.

—Jeanne Moreau

When facing difficulty in breathing, we often look for medications that will help improve our condition. However, many times, inadequate intake of nutrients, particularly vitamins, is actually responsible for decreased lung capacity that causes breathing problems intermittently. Increasing one's vitamin intake can go a long way in helping to improve lung function, thereby allowing one to breathe in a better way.

Vitamins That Help With Breathing

Vitamin D

Taking vitamin D in a supplemental form can help boost exercise tolerance in patients affected with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). As we all know, COPD patients find it difficult to carry out any exercise for long, due to breathing problems. Even exercising for a short duration makes these patients gasp for breath. However, taking increasing the intake of vitamin D helps COPD patients to improve their exercise performance.

A study, conducted in Belgium, included 50 subjects suffering from COPD, where participants were divided into two groups, with one group put on a specific dose of vitamin D, while subjects in the second group received a placebo pill everyday for 3 months. The vitamin D dosage was adjusted in such a way that it ensured participants received 100,000 IU of vitamin D on a monthly basis. After completion of the study, the health of each participant was evaluated on various parameters, including respiratory muscle function and exercise tolerance.

The study found out that patients who got the vitamin D dose displayed better respiratory muscle function, and were able to exercise for a longer amount of time as compared to their counterparts who were put on a placebo pill. Thus, supplemental dosage of vitamin D played a crucial role in enhancing respiratory muscle function and exercise performance in COPD patients. The patients were able to exercise with more vigor and intensity due to the vitamin D intake. However, surprisingly, they did not report any improvement in their overall well-being.

In another study, it was observed that vitamin D helps ease breathing in people affected with tuberculosis (TB). The study, that involved participation of over 10,000 Korean adults, showed a dramatic improvement in lung capacity due to increased absorption of vitamin D. Lung function has been linked to the amount of vitamin D present in the blood, as found out in the study. Researchers observed that subjects who had TB in the past, also suffered from low blood vitamin D biomarker levels. An increase in vitamin D biomarkers showed improvement in lung functioning. Researchers now believe that vitamin D can help boost the innate immune system as well as speed up the curing of infections. The study does point out that vitamin D could play a crucial role in enhancing lung function of TB patients. Adequate vitamin D levels might possibly prevent the onset of tuberculosis.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C can help reduce the tightening of air passages, that usually happens during or shortly after exercising, as found out in randomized trials. The condition referred to as exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB) causes the airways to become inflamed, thereby restricting free flow of air into the lungs. EIB is typically marked by coughing, wheezing, and breathing trouble. A study reported in the BMJ Open, an online medical journal, suggests that vitamin C reduces the inflammatory response, which contributes in alleviating EIB. Vitamin C acts as an anti-inflammatory agent, which works to reduce the narrowing of the airways in EIB.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is not only good for the eyes, but also assists in maintaining normal lung function. It repairs and strengthens the mucous membranes lining the lungs. Vitamin A maintains normal functioning of the mucous membrane cells that protect the lungs from harmful airborne pathogens. So, individuals with lung issues that hamper breathing can benefit by increasing vitamin A intake. Vitamin A deficiency can be damaging to the lungs, as revealed through animal testing and studies.

Vitamin B12

Our body depends on vitamin B12 to produce healthy red blood cells (RBCs). Inadequate vitamin B12 intake lowers the RBC count, a condition commonly referred to as anemia, that often leads to fatigue and breathing problems, which aggravates while exercising. RBCs perform the important job of delivering oxygen to each and every cell in the body. No wonder, vitamin B12 deficiency reduces oxygen flow to the body, resulting in shortness of breath. So, its intake may help to overcome breathing problems. Other studies have shown that adequate levels of vitamin B6 in the blood can improve breathing, as well as significantly reduce the risk of lung cancer.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E also provides a significant protective effect against a wide range of respiratory disorders, including COPD. Taking vitamin E can help repair lung tissue and even rebuild lung capacity, in turn contributing to ease any breathing problems. A powerful antioxidant, vitamin E protects the lungs by nullifying the impact of inhaled pollutants.

A study involving approximately 40,000 women aged over 45 years, revealed that regular consumption of vitamin E supplements over a period of 10 years reduced the chances of developing COPD by 10%. Those looking for a supplemental form of vitamin E should go for natural supplements that are labeled as d-beta-tocopherol and d-alpha-tocopherol, to reap its benefits. However, the American Cancer Society warns against long-term chronic use of vitamin E supplements, as it raises the chances of developing lung cancer.

Instead of supplements, taking vitamins through natural sources is the best way to protect the lungs, improve breathing, and keep any side effects at bay. Vegetables, fruits, fish, and dairy products are excellent sources of vitamins, so including them in the diet is all that is required to boost lung health and improve breathing.

Disclaimer: This Buzzle article is for informative purposes only, and should not be replaced for the advice of a medical professional.