A well-balanced diet is important for overall health -- and good health also includes a good night's sleep. People suffering from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) don’t get that high-quality sleep -- which can lead to fatigue, mood swings, drowsy driving, and health problems.
Vitamins and minerals play a vital role in a healthy diet and the body needs these to function at the highest level. Many people take vitamin tablets and supplements -- but experts agree this is not the best way to ensure the body gets the right amounts of vitamins and minerals.
Eating foods that contain these nutrients is advised by dietitians and doctors alike – and can help ensure better sleep.
Vitamin deficiency and lack of minerals can affect anyone, but these deficiencies can be corrected in your everyday diet.
Vitamins C, D, E, B6 and B12 all play a significant role in health and each of these has been shown to be very effective in combating sleep apnea and helping ensure good health.
The same is true of minerals such as zinc, copper, magnesium, manganese and selenium – which can also be found in a natural diet without the need for pills and supplements.
In fact, getting excess vitamins in pill or liquid form can lead to problems. Excess levels of vitamin B6, for example, have been linked with cases of insomnia while really high levels of this vitamin can be toxic. Similarly, high levels of vitamin B12 can also cause disrupted sleep patterns and insomnia.
Sticking to a well-balanced and healthy diet is not the chore it may seem, as high-fiber whole foods are significant sources of these nutrients.
Vitamins in Foods
Vitamins play a huge role in physical health and some can be effective in reducing the impact of sleep apnea. The most common of these OSA-beneficial vitamins and the best sources are:
Vegetables including spinach, carrots and potatoes and dairy products such as eggs, milk and cheese. B6 is also found in bananas, fish and whole grains.
Dairy products including eggs and cheese as well as meat, numerous types of fish and shellfish.
Kiwi fruit, strawberries and citrus fruits are packed with vitamin C as are green vegetables like sprouts, spinach, kale and broccoli. Vitamin C can also be found in cauliflower and red and green chili peppers.
Naturally produced by exposure to the sun, vitamin D is found in fatty fish, fish oil, eggs, dairy products as well as fresh orange and other fruit juices.
Many seeds and nuts are rich in vitamin E including peanuts, almonds, hazelnuts and sunflower seeds. Broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, and oils from wheat germ, corn and soybeans are also excellent sources.
Just as with vitamins, minerals play a significant role in physical health -- and a mineral deficiency can impact daily activities as well as reduce the quality of sleep.
Among the most important minerals the body requires (and the best sources) are zinc, copper, magnesium, manganese, and selenium.
- Crab, lobster and oysters
- Whole grains
- Breakfast cereals
- Dairy produce
- Fish and shellfish
- Seeds and nuts
- Whole grain bread
- Dark chocolate
- Avocados and bananas
- Almond, cashew and Brazil nuts
- Lentils, chickpeas, beans, peas and soybeans
- Seeds – particularly pumpkin, flax and chia seeds
- Whole grains including oats, barley, wheat and quinoa
- Fatty fish such as mackerel, halibut and salmon
- Green vegetables including spinach and kale as well as collard, turnip and mustard greens
- Shellfish such as clams, oysters and mussels
- Nuts, particularly pecan, hazelnut and peanuts
- Brown rice
- Soybeans, chickpeas, lentils and kidney beans
- Black tea
- Brazil nuts
These minerals help produce antioxidant enzymes that repair the damage to cells caused by sleep apnea.
Natural is Best
While supplements are handy, it is best to stick with natural foods whenever possible. The bulk of all vitamin and mineral requirements can be satisfied with a healthy, balanced diet that incorporates dairy, vegetables, poultry, seafood, fish, fruit, nuts and high-fiber whole foods.
A change in lifestyle or diet may not eliminate sleep apnea, but can certainly be of benefit. Ensuring the body has sufficient vitamins and minerals to function as it should is a first step (and a major one) to feeling and sleeping better.