Like everyone else, people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) feel their best when they receive nutrients such as vitamins and minerals in proper proportions. Due to COPD symptoms and the side effects of medications, those with COPD often suffer from deficiencies in certain nutrients such as calcium and Vitamin D. In addition, some researchers have suggested links between some nutrients such as antioxidants and Omega-3 fatty acids and decreased inflammation. Taking supplements that provide these substances can be one way to maintain good health, prevent complications, and even lessen COPD symptoms.
Some supplements may increase your levels of certain nutrients to toxic levels. It is possible to overdose on vitamins and minerals. In addition, some supplements may cause dangerous interactions with medications. No supplement is ever a good substitute for clinically proven COPD drug therapies.
What does it involve?
Always consult your doctor before taking any new supplement. Ask your doctor for the correct dosage of any new supplement. Be sure to provide your doctor with an up-to-date list of all supplements and medications in order to avoid drug interactions.
Many people with COPD are deficient in Vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency is linked to poor lung function. Since the body produces Vitamin D when sunlight interacts with your skin, time outside in the sun can increase your Vitamin D levels. As little as 10 to 15 minutes in the sun three times a week can help maintain a healthy level. Be sure to wear sunblock if your skin burns easily.
You can supplement your Vitamin D levels by including it in your diet. Vitamin D occurs naturally in foods such as fatty fish, eggs, beef liver and cod liver oil. Foods including milk, soy milk and cereal are often fortified with Vitamin D during processing; check labels to be certain.
Vitamin D can also be taken orally as a dietary supplement. The most effective form of Vitamin D supplement is D3, or cholecalciferol. This is the same form made naturally in your body. Liquid forms of Vitamin D may be absorbed more easily than pill forms.
You can ask your doctor for a blood test to check your Vitamin D level to find out if it is within a healthy range and help them decide whether a Vitamin D supplement is right for you.
N-acetylcysteine (NAC), an antioxidant, has been studied for its potential ability to preserve lung function and prevent flare-ups in people with COPD. The results of this research are mixed, but NAC is believed to help loosen mucus.
Ginseng has been studied for the treatment of COPD symptoms. It has not been proven to improve lung function, but it can react negatively with several medications.
Since people with COPD are at greater risk for osteoporosis, it is important to get enough calcium. Ask your doctor whether calcium supplements are right for you.
Vitamins A, C and E are antioxidants that may also help reduce damage caused by smoking and COPD. Antioxidants fight inflammation and may improve some COPD symptoms. However, some studies indicate that taking extra Vitamin A may be dangerous for former smokers. Ask your doctor before taking Vitamin A.
Omega-3 fatty acids may help fight inflammation as well as heart disease. Fish oil supplements are one type of supplement containing Omega-3 fatty acids.
Dietary fiber can help keep your heart healthy, reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease, and keep your bowels working properly.
Optimizing your nutrition will help you feel your personal best. Ensuring that you get a healthy amount of nutrients such as fiber, calcium and Vitamin D can help you maintain a healthy heart and bones. Supplements such as NAC and ginseng may potentially help reduce some COPD symptoms. Taking antioxidants and Omega-3 fatty acids may help your body fight inflammation, cancer and heart disease.
Studies have proven that higher levels of Vitamin D are linked to better performance on lung function tests. Results have also shown that Vitamin D supplements can help people with COPD who have very low levels of Vitamin D decrease the number of flare-ups they experience.
NAC has not been proven to preserve lung function or prevent COPD flare-ups. However, many physicians recommend NAC for controlling sputum.
Studies testing the effect of ginseng on COPD symptoms have produced inconclusive results.
Supplements cannot replace a healthy diet or physician-recommended medication.
Some supplements can interfere with the effects of prescribed medicines.
Some people find the sulfur smell of NAC unpleasant.