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Stress can wreak havoc on the immune system, impairing the body’s ability to fight off infection, especially the common cold and other respiratory infections. This is partly because stress impairs the body’s ability to produce nitric oxide. While most well-known for lowering blood pressure by supporting relaxation of blood vessels, nitric oxide also plays a significant role in the immune system’s ability to defend against pathogens, like viruses that cause colds, especially in the mucosal lining of our airways. Thus, lower levels of nitric oxide that result from increased stress can lead to increased susceptibility to viral respiratory infections, exacerbation of symptoms, and more sick days.
New research suggests that boosting nitric oxide levels through consumption of beet root juice during periods of acute stress (such as when students are taking final exams) can protect against illness and the development of cold symptoms. In a study published in 2019, 60 healthy students and 16 students with asthma were randomly assigned to drink a daily shot (70 mL) of beet root juice containing 400 mg of dietary nitrate, or to receive no supplementation during finals week. Compared to the control group, those students receiving beet root juice reported fewer signs of any illness during and after final exams, and if they did catch a cold, they had less severe symptoms. Of note, the greatest benefits were seen in students with asthma, indicating that beet root juice appears to be helpful for reducing asthma exacerbations during respiratory infections.
By increasing nitric oxide levels and thereby maintaining immune defense, beet root juice may be a promising strategy for the prevention of the common cold, especially during periods of high stress.
Most people who suffer from migraines treat them with various pain killers in the moment rather than taking preventive measures to decrease the frequency, duration, and severity of migraine attacks. However, neurologists in Germany found that migraine patients who supplemented with a combination of riboflavin, magnesium, and CoQ10 in addition to a multivitamin/mineral supplement for three months reduced both the frequency and severity of migraine pain.
Past studies have shown low levels of riboflavin, magnesium, and CoQ10 in patients with migraines. This makes sense because mitochondrial dysfunction, or impaired brain energy production, is associated with migraines, and riboflavin, magnesium, and CoQ10 all play a very important role in the ability of the mitochondria in our brains to produce energy. This study recruited participants who experienced at least three migraine attacks per month over the previous three months. The experimental group supplemented with 400 mg riboflavin, 600 mg magnesium, and 150 mg CoQ10 alongside a multivitamin with trace minerals for three months, split into two doses taken morning and evening. Participants in the supplementation group rated the effectiveness of the treatment significantly superior to the placebo group, citing less frequent attacks and less severe pain when they did experience a migraine. Thus, by supporting brain mitochondria, supplementing with this trio of nutrients could deliver powerful nutritional support for adults who suffer from migraines.