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. So what makes our nose healthy, more exactly? Vitamins and minerals.
As is the case with our health in general, our nose wouldn’t be in ill health very often with seemingly unimportant sicknesses if we lived in a pristine environment, did not suffer from stress and ate perfectly nutritious foods that ensured our body got all the vitamins and minerals it needed in the right amounts. But then we wouldn’t have what to strive for either. 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 do? Here are its best functions:
1) Filters the air we breathe. Preventing small particles such as pollen, dust, mold etc. to reach our lungs.
2) Warms inhaled air so when it reaches our lungs it has reached body temperature.
3) Moistens inhaled air so it does not dry out the sensitive mucosas.
4) Acts as a barrier. Our nose is a sort of a first line of defense, blocking foreign bodies and potential pathogens from reaching our lungs and overwhelming our immune system. Pathogens and particles remain trapped in the mucus and are eventually expelled through sneezing, blowing our nose or washing our face.
But we wouldn’t be enjoying this protection if the mucous membrane lining our nose weren’t healthy. In other words, if we want a healthy nose, we have to ensure its lining is ok. And this is were nutrients come in. Here are the vitamins and dietary minerals we want for a healthy nose:
1) Vitamin A. Basically, vitamin A ensures that we have healthy mucous membranes at the level of the stomach, lungs, throat, mouth and, of course, nose. These mucosas are our body´s first line of defense. For them to trap microbes and prevent infection, they should be in optimal health. And vitamin A does just that. Research has linked vitamin A deficiency to impaired immunity and poor immune response to infections.
2) Vitamin C. Vitamin C is the ultimate ally of good health. It has been shown that white blood cells accumulate vitamin C and use it to fufill their immune function. When the body is struck by illness, it eats up all the vitamin C it has and craves for more to power up its immune system and prevent the infection from spreading. In other words, vitamin C stimulates the immune system to act more aggressively towards foreign bodies and microbes and gives its components sustenance to keep on fighting.
Vitamin C is also a strong natural anti-inflammatory, reducing inflammation including at the level of the nose when the lining suffers damage and gets inflammed. Lastly, the nutrient facilitates the fast healing of the damaged mucosa, thus offering both relief and further protection against infection. Despite the recommended daily intake being around 90 mg, research suggests our body may require a minimum of 1,000 (1 g) of vitamin C every day. Demands may increase significantly depending on age, state of health and individual requirements, the limit being set by individual gastrointestinal tolerance to the vitamin.
3) Vitamin E. Vitamin E is best known for its excellent antioxidant properties, protecting cell membranes from oxidation. 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 of the vitamin are obsolete and we 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. By working from within, this fat-soluble nutrient helps fight off infection by both boosting the immune system and healing the mucose membrane at the level of the nose.
4) Zinc. In addition to supporting normal cell growth, zinc boosts the immune system and regulates its inflammatory response to disease and infection, inflammation being the cause behind many unpleasant symptoms of disease, including the dreaded stuffy nose. Meeting our daily recommendations can have a great positive impact on nose health, with zinc helping reduce inflammation and overcome infections of all kinds.
5) Magnesium. In addition to its benefits on bone and cardiovascular health, magnesium ensures proper muscle contraction and supports the immune function. In relation to nose health, magnesium carries out important immunity-related functions such as regulating inflammation levels and activating white blood cells such as macrophages and neutrophils to fight off infection.
6) Vitamins K and D. Vitamin K promotes nose health by encouraging blood coagulation, discouraging nosebleeds and bleeding as a result of irritation and inflammation. Eating green leafy vegetables regularly can supply us with all the vitamin K we need. Vitamin D plays a central part in immunity. On the one hand, it stimulates the production of certain antibodies. On the other hand, it exhibits an inhibitory action on certain components of the immune system, reducing the amplitude of inflammatory responses and, of course, inflammation.
Conclusion. Vitamins A, D, E and C, zinc and magnesium all contribute to nose health by more or less direct actions. However, ensuring we get sufficient amounts of these particular nutrients does not mean the remaining ones can be overlooked. Remember that our body is like a machine: it needs every piece to work well and neglecting seemingly unimportant aspects such as having a sufficient intake of some nutrients can cause pieces of it to wear off over time and the machine to eventually break down.