More than 23 million Americans have asthma, which causes sudden episodes of shortness of breath, wheezing and a feeling of suffocation. Asthma attacks may result from exposure to any number of allergens and other triggers, including pollens, cigarette smoke, aspirin, sulfite (a preservative used in wine), cold air and exercise. Emotional stress can also induce asthma attacks, and being overweight predisposes people to developing asthma.
Several supplements may be of particular benefit:
Vitamin D Several studies have linked low levels of vitamin D to asthma. Take at least 1,000 IU of vitamin D daily—at least 2,000 IU daily during the winter.
Omega-3 fish oils, in high concentrations, may help dampen your asthma symptoms. In one study, large amounts of fish oil capsules reduced the severity of exercise-induced asthma attacks, as well as the need for medicated inhalers. Try 1 to 3 grams daily. Add 200 to 400 mg of gamma-linolenic acid, which also has an antiinflammatory effect.
Magnesium is essential for muscle relaxation, and considerable research indicates that supplements of this dietary mineral can reduce the severity of asthmatic reactions. In a study of children and teenagers, published in the January 2007 European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, supplemental magnesium significantly reduced both asthma symptoms and skin reactions to allergens. Intravenous magnesium is sometimes used in hospital emergency rooms, particularly in the treatment of very serious asthma attacks. Try 300 to 400 mg of magnesium citrate daily.
Carotenoids, particularly beta-carotene and lycopene, may reduce the severity of asthma attacks. Try 25 mg of natural-source beta-carotene or 30 mg of lycopene daily.