Nose health is an important aspect of our health many of us take for granted. While most health issues revolving around our nose are more likely mere symptoms of underlying conditions elsewhere in our body, the fact that our nose sometimes gets affected badly by apparently mild conditions such as the common cold or the flu suggests it may not be in as good of a health as it should or could be.
Despite the surprising variety of functions our nose fulfills, improving its health can be done successfully by including sufficient amounts of several key nutrients in our daily diet. Whether this is achieved through rigorous eating or supplementation, or both, is a matter of personal preference, time availability and financial resources. But what keeps our nose healthy? There are a few vitamins and minerals that actively contribute to nose health.
As is the case with health in general, our nose wouldn’t be in ill health very often with seemingly unimportant sicknesses if we lived in a pristine environment far away from pollution and irritants, did not suffer the side effects of stress and had access perfectly balanced, nutritionally dense and clean food that ensured our body got all the vitamins and minerals it needed in the right amounts. But since that isn’t the case, our nose needs our support.
What are the functions of the nose?
Any attempt to improve nose health with the help of dietary nutrients should center on supporting its activity or functions within the human body. This leads us to the question: what does our nose actually do? The main functions fulfilled by the nose include:
The nose serves a downright important purpose: it filters the air we breathe. Preventing small innocuous or pathogenic particles such as pollen particles, dust, dirt, irritants, mold, pollutants, airborne viruses, bacteria or fungi and more from going further down the respiratory tract and into our lungs is of vital importance for general health and wellbeing.
Warming air that is breathed in
The nose warms inhaled air so that when it reaches the lungs it has a similar, if not the exact same temperature as normal body temperature. This is meant to prevent a potential shock caused by the difference in temperature between the air from outside the body and the air from inside the respiratory system.
Maintaining a healthy level of moisture
One of the more important functions of the nose is to moisten inhaled air so it does not dry out the sensitive mucosas of the respiratory tract which predisposes to damage and increases risks of infection. By maintaining a healthy level of moisture at the level of the nasal passages, the nose helps maintain a delicate balance conducive to a state of wellbeing and good health.
Acts as a barrier
Our nose is a first line of defense, blocking foreign bodies and potential pathogens from breaching the respiratory tract and reaching the throat or the lungs. If it weren’t for the nose acting as a barrier, disease-causing elements would get in and overwhelm the immune system. Pathogens and particles that do get inside the nose get trapped in the mucus secreted at the level of the nasal passages, and are ultimately expelled through sneezing, blowing of the nose or washing of the face.
But we wouldn’t be enjoying this level of protection if the mucous membranes lining the nose weren’t healthy in the first place. In other words, if we want a healthy nose, and the benefits that come with it, we have to ensure the mucous membrane lining the inside of the nasal passages is also healthy. And this is were essential nutrients come in. Find out below what are the best vitamins and dietary minerals for a healthy nose.
Best vitamins and minerals for nose health
1) Vitamin A for healthy mucous membranes
Basically, vitamin A ensures that we have healthy mucous membranes at the level of the stomach, lungs, throat, mouth and, of course, nose. These mucous membranes are our body’s first line of defense. For them to trap microbes and prevent infection, they should be in optimal health. And the health of mucous membranes comes down to the health of the cells that make them up.
Vitamin A is directly involved in cell turnover and helps renew cells throughout the body as well as dictates how they differentiate in order to fulfill various functions in the body. Vitamin A directly contributes to keeping mucous membranes healthy. Research has linked vitamin A deficiency to impaired immunity and a poor immune response to infections, including lengthy recovery times, severe symptoms and increased frequency of infections.
2) Vitamin C with anti-inflammatory and immunomodulating benefits
Vitamin C is the ultimate ally of good health. It has been shown that white blood cells accumulate vitamin C and use it to fulfill their functions as part of the immune system response. When the body is struck by illness, it needs all the vitamin C it can get in an effort to support the immune system response, and craves more to power specific immune system actions that have the end purpose of clearing the infection before it spreads and causes excessive damage.
Vitamin C both stimulates and powers the immune system, and is a driving force for immune system components such as white blood cells, making them act more aggressively towards pathogenic foreign bodies and microbes.
Vitamin C is also a strong natural anti-inflammatory, reducing levels of inflammation markers in the body, including inflammation at the level of the nose. When the lining of the nose experiences damage of any kind, it gets inflamed. Getting enough vitamin C helps lower inflammation and reduce the severity of side effects associated with the inflammation.
Lastly, the nutrient facilitates healing. A more than adequate intake of vitamin C encourages a faster healing of the damaged mucosa while providing relief from symptoms and reducing risks of infection and associated side effects and complications.
Despite the recommended daily intake of vitamin C for an adult being around 90 mg (milligrams), research suggests our body may require a minimum of 1,000 (1 g) of vitamin C every day for measurable benefits. Demands may increase significantly depending on age, current state of health and individual requirements, the limit being set by individual gastrointestinal tolerance to the vitamin.
3) Vitamin E for reparative benefits
Vitamin E is best known for its excellent antioxidant properties, protecting cell membranes from oxidation and damage caused by free radical agents. The nutrient is particularly protective of specific immune system components such as B cells and T cells, and a deficiency may result in impaired immunity. More recent research suggests that current recommended intakes for the vitamin are obsolete and the average person may benefit from significantly higher intakes.
Moreover, vitamin E exhibits excellent emollient and restorative properties and has a beneficial effect on damaged skin and mucosas, including our nose lining, exerting reparative benefits. By working from within, this fat-soluble nutrient helps fight off infection by both supporting the immune system and healing the mucous membrane at the level of the nose.
4) Zinc for cell growth and better immunity
In addition to supporting normal cell growth, zinc boosts the immune system function. Zinc is known to regulate the inflammatory response of the immune system to disease and infection. Inflammation is actually the main cause behind many unpleasant symptoms of disease, including the dreaded stuffy nose. Meeting our daily recommendations can have a positive impact on nose health, with zinc helping reduce inflammation and reduce infection risks.
5) Magnesium with benefits for the immune system
In addition to its benefits for bone and cardiovascular health, magnesium ensures proper muscle contractions and supports the immune function. In relation to nose health, magnesium carries out important immunity-related functions such as regulating inflammation levels in the body and activating white blood cells such as macrophages and neutrophils to fight off infection.
6) Vitamins K and D with antibleeding and immune boosting benefits
Vitamin K is good for nose health because it supports blood coagulation, exerting antibleeding effects that discourage nosebleeds and bleeding as a result of irritation and inflammation. Eating green leafy vegetables regularly can supply all the vitamin K you need every day.
Vitamin D plays a central part in regulating immunity. For one, it stimulates the production of certain antibodies that are active in the immune system response. It also exhibits an inhibitory action on certain components of the immune system, reducing the amplitude of inflammatory responses and, of course, inflammation.
Vitamins A, D, E and C, zinc and magnesium all contribute to nose health via more or less direct activities. Making sure we get sufficient amounts of these particular nutrients every day actively promotes nose health, although that does not mean other essential nutrients can be overlooked either. Remember that our body is like a machine: it needs many different pieces and components to work well so good nutrition conducive to good health, including nose health, is reliant on getting all the essential vitamins and minerals you need every single day.