Lung inflammation can lead to a host of medical conditions. Inflammation happens in the small airways, air sacs and capillaries of your lungs. Symptoms first appear as shortness of breath, fatigue, decreased appetite, weight loss, dry cough, trouble breathing and chest discomfort. The causes of Inflammation include environmental toxins, connective tissue disease, genes and medications. If you’re concerned about your lungs, you should consult with your physician, but certain vitamins can protect your lungs and reduce inflammation.
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Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin and antioxidant that prevents damage created by free radicals in your body. Free radicals promote lung inflammation by activating genes involved in the inflammatory response. Vitamin E scavenges the free radicals in your lungs, limiting inflammation and protecting airways and lung tissue. Adults should get 15 milligrams of this vitamin daily. Vitamin E is most prevalent in vegetable oils, nuts, whole grains and dark green leafy vegetables.
Your body requires vitamin C to repair lung tissue and build collagen, a protein used to make blood vessels in your lungs. Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant and helps reduce inflammation and tissue damage by destroying free radicals. It also restores the antioxidant effect of vitamin E, which loses it antioxidant properties after acting on a free radical. Vitamin C boosts your immunity and may prevent viral and bacterial infections such as pneumonia that cause lung inflammation. Men need 90 milligrams of vitamin C and women need 75 milligrams per day. The best sources of this vitamin are citrus fruits and juices, sweet peppers, kiwi, tomatoes, broccoli, potatoes and spinach.
Vitamin D is essential for a healthy immune system. Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with inflammatory lung diseases such as asthma, cystic fibrosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and respiratory infections, according to a 2011 article published in “Advances in Clinical Nutrition.” Adults 19 to 50 years old need 600 international units of this vitamin daily. Sunlight stimulates your skin to produce vitamin D and may be all you need, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. Food sources of this nutrient include salmon, egg yolks and fortified milk, cereal and orange juice.
Vitamin A is a key nutrient in keeping your lungs healthy because of its role in immunity. It’s needed for the development of white blood cells that fight off infections that lead to lung inflammation. Mucosal cells line your airways and are your first defense against viruses or bacteria, and vitamin A keeps these cells healthy. Men should get 3,000 international units and women 2,333 international units of this vitamin daily. Yellow, orange and green vegetables contain vitamin A as do cod liver oil and eggs.
- Cleveland Clinic: Interstitial Lung Disease
- MedlinePlus: Diffuse Interstitial Lung Disease
- Linus Pauling Institute: Vitamin E
- Nutrition: Inflammation, Free Radicals and Antioxidants
- Linus Pauling Institute: Vitamin C
- Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine: Vitamin C May Affect Lung Infections
- Linus Pauling Institute: Vitamin D
- Advances in Nutrition: Vitamin D and Chronic Lung Disease
- Linus Pauling Institute: Vitamin A