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Chronic Cough? Vitamin Deficiency Could Be the Culprit

Recent reports from scientists at the University of Turin and Mauriziano Hospital in Italy show a strong correlation between vitamin B12 deficiency and chronic cough. The study studied more than 300 Italian patients with chronic cough. Although the most common causes of chronic cough include adverse reactions to prescription drugs, increased cough reflex sensitivity, gastroesophageal reflux disease, and allergies, more than 15 percent of study participants did not have a formal diagnosis of their cough source.

Of the 40 individuals who cannot explain chronic cough, 25 have vitamin B12 deficiency; 15 does not have such a deficit. Vitamin B12 plays an important role in the formation of blood cells, as well as normal brain function and nervous system. A common side effect of B12 deficiency is a condition known as peripheral sensory neuropathy, which causes numbness, tingling, burning, or complete absence of the foot.

Italian studies show that sensory neuropathy caused by B12 deficiency can be a factor in pharynx function and abnormal larynx function, leading to chronic cough. Subject tissue biopsies showed higher levels of nerve growth than normal in the respiratory and bronchial tract cells. High levels of nerve growth have been associated with increased inflammation and discomfort in the airways; it provides a valid explanation for chronic cough.

The same process also lowers cell metabolism in epithelia, creating an unstable electrochemical state characterized by inflammation. Histamine is associated with inflammation. Study subjects with B12 deficiency presented low histamine thresholds and their cough improved with B12 supplementation. Experts estimate that nearly 39 percent of American adults suffer from vitamin B12 deficiency. The most at-risk populations are parents, individuals suffering from reflux, individuals who have or have had h-Pylori infections, vegans, and those who use prescription drugs. Individuals who have difficulty sleeping also have vitamin B12 deficiency.

Naturally increases vitamin B12 intake:

* Consuming foods rich in healthy animal products such as organically grown meat and poultry, wild cat, and free-range eggs. These animal sources of vitamin B12 are most beneficial to the body and ensure adequate biological function.

* Supplements with sprays, pills or vitamin B12 powders, especially if a diet or cultural tradition restricts the use of meat or animal products (this includes some vegetarians, mostly vegans, and certain religious and ethnic groups). Vitamin B12 derived from plants does not function in the body in much the same way as B12 comes from animal sources, although blood tests usually reveal sufficient vitamin levels. Individuals who use small or no animal products can show normal B12 levels on standard blood tests but may still be vitamin deficient.

* Use probiotics that help the body fight infections and increase nutrient absorption. Probiotics are available in supplements, but are now added to many existing foods such as yogurt, fruit juices, milk, and cheese.



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