Expert Answers: Vitamins, Supplements, and COPD
There’s some talk in our community about natural remedies like vitamins and supplements when it comes to COPD. So on behalf of our community, we asked our experts: What vitamins and/or supplements should I ask my doctor about? Check out what they had to say – and share your own experience in the comments!
Response from Leon
If you are considering taking vitamins and/or supplements to treat your COPD, they should only be taken when recommended and supervised by your private physician. Some of the same vitamins and other nutrients for overall good health may be particularly helpful when managing COPD. You may want to get more information from your physician as to which are right for you. Here are a few:
- Fish oil: Contains omega-3 fatty acids, which aid in the transfer of oxygen, can help reduce mucus production, and are known anti-inflammatory agents. It’s best to get omega-3 fatty acids from foods if you can. Foods that contain omega-3s include fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel; walnuts; flax seeds and pumpkin seeds. You also can get fish oil in supplements.
- Vitamins A, C, and E: Are known for their antioxidant properties. Breathing is but one of the body functions that produce substances called free radicals, which weaken healthy cells and make you more susceptible to infection and disease. Antioxidants protect against free radicals. You can get vitamins A, C, and E in your diet, especially if you eat colorful, fresh fruits and vegetables. You may need to add supplements, though, if you’re not getting enough. A multi vitamin may do the trick.
- Vitamin D: Many people with COPD are deficient in vitamin D, which can increase your chances of experiencing COPD exacerbations. Insufficient vitamin D can also lead to osteoporosis, a condition which leaves the bones brittle and prone to fracture. If steroids are part of your COPD treatment, they too can increase your risk for osteoporosis. Vitamin D therefore, is integral to good bone health. Foods that provide vitamin D can include: fatty fish (salmon, tuna and mackerel), lean meats, cheese, poultry, eggs, nuts and beans. If additional vitamin D is required, a supplement may be recommended.
For more complete information on COPD and vitamins and supplements, you may want to read this thorough and detailed article at COPD.net.
Response from Lyn
First of all, it’s important to speak to your health care provider before starting on any supplements. Many natural remedies can have an effect on medications you currently take – some for the good, some for the bad. So, you always want to keep your doctor up to date on any new natural supplements you may be trying or would like to try. Most doctors encourage the use of vitamins in their patients, so don’t be afraid to bring it up.
Many COPD patients suffer from Vitamin D deficiency. There isn’t a lot of evidence to suggest that it’s directly related to their COPD, but many claim they feel improvement when their Vitamin D levels are maximized. Since COPD can often keep people indoors, the deficiency may be related to lack of sunlight. That being said, a few minutes each day just sitting outside may improve Vitamin D levels as well as having the added benefit of an improved frame of mind.
Some of the common COPD medications can deplete other vitamins in the body as well. For that reason, many physicians will recommend their patients take Antioxidants such as Vitamin A and C. There are also many foods that contain high levels of antioxidants. These include: certain beans, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, spinach, nuts, and many more.