The sinuses and nasal passages are part of your upper respiratory tract that leads to your mouth, throat and lungs Sinusitis -- a sinus infection -- occurs when these passages become infected by a virus, bacteria or fungus, causing a runny nose, swelling and pain. Certain vitamins may help reduce the number of sinus infections and how long they last in both children and adults. However, further clinical evidence is needed to confirm this. See your doctor if you have chronic sinus problems.
Vitamin C and Vitamin E
Vitamins C and E are potent antioxidants that may help remove toxins that cause infection and tissue damage to the lining of the sinuses, according to a study published in 2004 in the "Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology." Researchers investigated the amounts of these antioxidants and other nutrients in children who were prone to getting chronic rhinosinusitis, a runny nose and sinus infection. The study found that these children had low levels of vitamin E and vitamin C, as well as the minerals copper and zinc. Additional research is needed to determine if raising vitamin C and E levels would prevent sinus infection and whether adults show similar blood vitamin levels.
Vitamin C is commonly used to prevent colds and flus, but there is little research to prove this. A study published in 2004 in the journal "Pediatrics" found that a combination of vitamin C, the herb echinacea and the bee hive resin propolis was effective in reducing the incidence of respiratory tract infections and the duration of illness. Children were given 5 to 7.5 milliliters of the solution twice daily for 12 weeks. However, more clinical studies are needed to determine the dosage for adults and whether vitamin C has any effect on sinus and respiratory infections on its own.
Vitamins D-3 and Vitamin K-2
The delicate paranasal sinus bones that flank your nose can be damaged by chronic sinus infections. A study published in the journal "Rhinology" in 2007 found that a treatment of vitamin D-3, vitamin K-2 and the prescription blood-thinning drug warfarin helped protect the bony structure of the sinus. The study concluded that improving bone health in this area may also improve sinus health against chronic infections.
A review published in 2010 in "The Journal of Laryngology and Otology" found that improving vitamin D levels helped reduce the incidences of chronic sinus infections. The researchers noted that UV light, which stimulates your body to produce vitamin D, was successfully used to treat tuberculosis infections on the skin; sun exposure is also linked to fewer upper respiratory tract infections. This may be because vitamin D is needed for the production of antimicrobial immune compounds that help protect against pathogens that cause sinus and nose infections.
Sources of Nutrients
Whole foods contain natural combinations of vitamins and are the best sources of these nutrients for most people. Get your vitamin E from foods such as vegetables oils, wheat germ, whole grains, nuts and green leafy vegetables. Good sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, potatoes, broccoli, spinach and strawberries. Your body produces its own vitamin D with skin exposure, and it is also found in fortified milk and cereals and fatty fish. Vitamin K is found in a variety of foods including liver, eggs, milk, cabbage, spinach, broccoli, sprouts and other green vegetables.
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- Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology: Serum Levels of Antioxidant Vitamins, Copper, Zinc and Magnesium in Children With Chronic Rhinosinusitis
- Rhinology: Vitamin D3, Vitamin K2, and Warfarin Regulate Bone Metabolism in Human Paranasal Sinus Bones
- The Journal of Laryngology & Otology: Vitamin D, Innate Immunity and Upper Respiratory Tract Infection
- Pediatrics: Effectiveness of an Herbal Preparation Containing Echinacea, Propolis, and Vitamin C in Preventing Respiratory Tract Infections in Children
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Sinus Infection (Sinusitis)
- Harvard Health Publications: Listing of Vitamins
Nadia Haris is a registered radiation therapist who has been writing about nutrition for more than six years. She is completing her Master of Science in nutrition with a focus on the dietary needs of oncology patients.