Teenagers who don't get enough nutrients commonly found in green leafy vegetables, fruits and fish are prone to underperforming lungs, asthma, coughing and wheezing, according to new research.
Published in the July issue of the journal Chest, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health found that a diet low in fruits and vegetables increased the odds of chronic bronchitis and asthma.
Based on the findings, the researchers found that the current recommended dose of vitamin C, 85 mg a day, may not be enough for teens to have healthy lungs.
The researchers surveyed more than 2,110 twelfth graders from the US and Canada. As found in previous surveys, they found that many teenagers ate less than the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables. Only 11% took vitamin supplements on a daily basis.
The study 'Low Dietary Nutrient Intakes and Respiratory Health in Adolescents' found that teenagers who consumed low levels of omega-3 fatty acids were more likely to have asthma and respiratory problems.
Even moderate amounts of the omega-3 fatty acids were protective, counteracting inflammation in the lungs. The antioxidant properties in vitamins C and E as well as other compounds found in fruit likely protect cells lining the airways from free radical damage, the researchers said.