The 15 Best Sneeze-Stifling Supplements

Consider these supplements to ease your seasonal allergy symptoms.

August 24, 2016
supplements

With allergy season right around the corner, now is the time to start considering nutrient-rich foods and supplements to help ease your seasonal allergy pain.

More: 8 Most Common Food Allergies, Explained

Here are some science-backed options. (Note: Always consult with your physician before starting a new supplement.)

pineapple
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1. Bromelain

Bromelain, which was first produced in Hawaii and Japan, is a protein-digesting enzyme (aka a proteolytic enzyme) that can significantly reduce inflammation. As an anti-inflammatory, bromelain has the potential to help many conditions, such as strains, sprains, arthritis, back pain, and of course, allergies.

How It Fights Allergy or Asthma Symptoms: Bromelain has been shown to decrease inflammation in the respiratory tract, and therefore it can help reduce allergy symptoms, such as nasal and sinus swelling. Bromelain can also thin mucus, easing nasal congestion. There's also some evidence that it can boost your immune system.

How to Get It: While you can get bromelain from eating fresh pineapple, most of the enzyme is found within the pineapple stem, which isn't a good part of the pineapple to eat. The best way to use bromelain is to take it as a supplement. It's a good idea to look for a bromelain supplement that is enteric coated, which protects the bromelain from becoming active in your stomach. When bromelain becomes active in your stomach, the enzyme works to digest any food that is in there. Therefore, it is best to take bromelain supplements on an empty stomach.

The German Commission E monograph for bromelain suggests a dosage of 80 to 320 milligrams. The effectiveness of bromelain seems to be dose-dependent and, for many, dosages up to 1,000 milligrams per day have been used. It is best to take bromelain three or four times per day, rather than as a single dose. I usually recommend that my patients take 150 milligrams three or four times a day.

Contraindications and Things to Consider: Bromelain has a good safety profile and is well-tolerated by most people. That said, it does have the potential to be an allergen itself, especially in those who suspect that they may have a pineapple allergy. It can also cause some mild gastrointestinal side effects, including heartburn and diarrhea. There is some evidence that bromelain can increase the action of certain blood-thinning medications as well as antibiotics known as tetracyclines. If you are currently taking these drugs, consult with your doctor before starting a bromelain supplement.

Vitamin B6 foods
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2. Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) is an important vitamin that helps your body make proteins, hormones, and neurotransmitters. It's particularly critical for proper functioning of your brain, nerves, and skin. In your body, vitamin B6 is absorbed in your small intestine and transported to your liver, where it is converted to its metabolically active form, pyridoxal 5'-phosphate.

How it Fights Allergy or Asthma Symptoms: A few studies have suggested that vitamin B6 may help people with asthma. One study on 76 children with asthma found that kids who took a vitamin B6 supplement for 2 months were able to reduce their doses of asthma medications.

Another small study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that adult asthmatics had significantly lower levels of vitamin B6 than controls. The study subjects with asthma were then given 50 milligrams of vitamin B6 twice daily and noted a dramatic decrease in the frequency and severity of wheezing and asthma attacks while taking the supplement.

How to Get It: While you can get vitamin B6 from some foods, including avocados, bananas, poultry, soybeans, sunflower seeds, and watermelon, it can also be taken as a supplement. Currently, the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin B6 is between 1 and 2 milligrams per day. However, most of the research regarding B6 for therapeutic purposes has used dosages ranging from 50 to 200 milligrams per day. I recommend taking 50 milligrams each day. 

Contraindications and Things to Consider: Many prescription medications have the ability to cause a deficiency in vitamin B6. Eating a diet rich in vitamin B6 can help to improve your body's stores. I recommend that you have your vitamin B6 levels checked prior to taking the vitamin in large doses. Also, because vitamin B6 has the potential to interfere with some types of medications (cycloserine, hydralazine, levodopa, isoniazid, penicillamine, and theophylline), it is a good idea to discuss taking vitamin B6 with a physician experienced with its use.

Vitamin B12
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3. Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) is an important cofactor in DNA synthesis, nerve health, and carbohydrate metabolism. This vitamin is found mainly in animal products such as beef liver, clams, salmon, lamb, and cheese. Nonanimal sources of vitamin B12 include brewer's yeast, sea vegetables, chlorella, and spirulina.

How it Fights Allergy or Asthma Symptoms: There is some evidence that vitamin B12 may help with asthma. In a 2010 study published in the journal Allergy, researchers looked at 4,516 people ages 30 to 60. They found that those deficient in B12 were more likely to suffer from asthma attacks and shortness of breath over a 5-year period than people with adequate levels of the B vitamin.

How to Get It: The current RDA for B12 is up to 3 micrograms daily, whereas the dosage for clinical effect ranges from 1,500 to 6,000 micrograms per day. For maintenance, you can take a dose of 1,000 micrograms daily. B12 comes in both chewable and sublingual forms.

Contraindications and Things to Consider: Vitamin B12 has excellent tolerability and is relatively safe. This vitamin can be administered orally, intramuscularly, or intravenously, with all routes of administration providing positive outcomes. My favorite form of vitamin B12 is methylcobalamin, as it appears to be better absorbed and utilized by the body.

Vitamin C
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4. Vitamin C

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is the most popular supplement in the world, and it's no wonder; it does many good things for your body. Some of vitamin C's most important actions include protecting fat-soluble vitamins from oxidative damage and producing collagen to strengthen connective tissues. Vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant, and it helps protect against damage from free radicals. It may also prevent plaque buildup in the arteries by lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol. Vitamin C is also useful for regulating your immune system and helping your body deal with stress, and it has anticancer properties as well. One of its most well-known powers is its ability to shorten the duration of the common cold.

How It Fights Allergy or Asthma Symptoms: Research shows that vitamin C helps prevent histamine from being released by stabilizing the membranes of mast cells. Mast cells are the storage units for histamine, and when their cell membranes rupture, histamine is released, causing allergic symptoms. Vitamin C can also break down histamine once it has started circulating in your body. In a 2013 study, researchers found that when they injected allergic people with vitamin C, their blood levels of histamine went down.

In another 2013 study published in Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology Research, Korean children ages 6 to 12 with high intakes of vitamin C had fewer symptoms of allergic rhinitis (hay fever) than kids who did not increase their daily vitamin C intake.

How to Get It: You can easily get vitamin C from foods, and nearly everyone should try to eat some of this vitamin daily. Focus on foods like acerola berries, cauliflower, guavas, kiwis, mangoes, melons, oranges, peppers, strawberries, and tomatoes. The current RDA for vitamin C is 60 milligrams per day, and this is likely just enough to prevent a person from developing a deficiency. In my practice, I have used dosages exceeding 50,000 milligrams without adverse effects. When using vitamin C therapeutically, dosages of greater than 6 grams per day are frequently used.

There is a large variety of vitamin C supplements available, including liquid, tablet, capsule, powdered crystalline, and effervescent forms. For allergies and asthma, I generally recommend taking vitamin C in divided dosages ranging from 6 to 10 grams (6,000 to 10,000 milligrams) per day. For some people, I find that using intravenous vitamin C provides the quickest results.

Contraindications and Things to Consider: It is important to know that dosages of vitamin C greater than 3 to 4 grams (3,000 to 4,000 milligrams) taken at once may result in gastrointestinal discomfort and diarrhea. To help prevent this, vitamin C can be taken in divided doses throughout the day. (For example, 2,000 milligrams, three times per day.)

While dietary intakes of vitamin C are generally safe, the use of vitamin C supplements may produce unwanted reactions when combined with certain medications. Blood-thinning medications, such as warfarin, may lose some of their effectiveness when combined with vitamin C, so people taking those medications should consult with their physicians before starting to take vitamin C or starting to take any new medications while taking vitamin C.

Coenzyme Q10
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5. Coenzyme Q10

First discovered by the Japanese in the 1960s, coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) has quickly become one of the most popular supplements in the United States. CoQ10 is an enzyme found in almost every cell in your body, and it is a necessary intermediary in the production of the cellular energy molecule adenosine triphosphate (ATP). CoQ10 is also a powerful antioxidant and can buffer your body against damaging free radicals. As a result of its involvement in ATP production and as an antioxidant, CoQ10 affects the functioning of all of the cells in your body and is essential for the health of all human tissues and organs. Many diseases and health conditions--including heart disease, fibromyalgia, Parkinson's disease, diabetes, bronchitis, and allergy--have been linked with depleted levels of CoQ10.

How It Fights Allergy or Asthma Symptoms: Research has shown that people with asthma have lower than normal levels of CoQ10, suggesting that the enzyme might help treat this condition. In a 2002 Slovakian study, researchers looked at the coenzyme Q10 levels of 56 asthmatic adults and 25 adults without asthma. They found that the asthmatics had significantly lower levels of CoQ10 than the nonasthmatic participants.

A more recent study examined the relationship between antioxidant levels and airway inflammation in asthmatic children. The results of this study suggested that antioxidants positively influenced antioxidant levels and reduced airway inflammation in asthmatic children.

How to Get It: CoQ10 comes in a number of forms, including chewable wafers, tablets, soft gel capsules, and powder-filled capsules. Typical dosages range from 30 to 300 milligrams in divided doses daily, although higher dosages are also used. Absorption of CoQ10 seems to improve when it's taken with food.

Contraindications and Things to Consider: There are several types of conventional medications that can lower CoQ10 levels in your body. These include the cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins and blood pressure-lowering drugs like beta-blockers. People on these medications may benefit from incorporating CoQ10 into their treatment plans. CoQ10 is generally a safe supplement and adverse reactions are rare, but there are reports of doses greater than 200 milligrams per day causing nausea in some people.

Vitamin E
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6. Vitamin E

Vitamin E is actually a family of related molecules that exhibit similar biological activity. Alpha-tocopherol causes the most actions in the body, but beta-, gamma-, and delta-tocopherols are the forms found naturally in foods. Vitamin E is one of nature's most potent antioxidants and has significant anti-inflammatory actions as well.

Vitamin E seems to be particularly powerful against free radical harm to blood and tissues caused by vigorous exercise, and it may help decrease muscle injury and inflammation. It also appears to reduce the risk of some cancers, including breast, colon, prostate, liver, lung, and pancreatic.

How It Fights Allergy or Asthma Symptoms: Some studies have shown that vitamin E can help dampen allergies by regulating the part of your immune system involved in allergic response.39 Other research has shown that deficiencies in the vitamin can increase asthma symptoms.

In one study published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, researchers looked at the effects of vitamin E on 112 men and women with allergic rhinitis (hay fever). For 10 weeks, participants took either 800 international units of vitamin E per day or a placebo. At the end of the 10 weeks, the vitamin E group had significantly fewer allergy symptoms--especially nasal congestion--compared to the placebo group.

Newer research has begun to shed light on the mechanism behind vitamin E's ability to suppress allergic symptoms. A 2013 study found that vitamin E suppressed the degranulation of mast cells and thus inhibited histamine release.

How to Get It: You can get vitamin E from food, including wheat germ (the richest source), asparagus, avocados, nuts (almonds contain the most vitamin E of all nuts), and whole-grain products. In addition, many different vitamin E supplements are available. These supplements come in natural (d-alpha-tocopherol) and synthetic (dl-alpha-tocopherol) forms, in capsules, soft gels, tablets, and topical oils. The natural d-alpha-tocopherol form can potentially deplete gamma-tocopherol levels in your body, so supplements containing mixed tocopherols are preferable.

The recommended daily allowance for vitamin E is based solely on d-alpha-tocopherol, and no official recommendations exist for the other naturally occurring forms of vitamin E. The current RDA is 22.4 international units (IU), with a suggested upper limit of 1,490 IU daily. I recommend 400 to 800 IU, if no contraindications exist.

Contraindications and Things to Consider: Vitamin E has a low toxicity profile, but concerns exist regarding the influence that vitamin E may have on blood-thinning medications. Consult with your physician if you are taking any such medications.

Evening Primrose
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7. Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis)

True to its name, the flowers of the evening primrose plant open at dusk and close again at dawn. Oil from this plant (Oenothera beinnis) is traditionally used to help treat women's health issues such as PMS and hot flashes as well as some skin conditions like rashes, eczema, and hives.

How It Fights Allergy or Asthma Symptoms: In addition to its other uses, evening primrose oil (EPO) has anti-inflammatory properties, which makes it a good remedy for arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. More than 30 studies have shown that evening primrose oil can help ease eczema and dermatitis. One 2006 review of 26 studies that encompassed a total of 1,207 people found that EPO helped ease redness, itching, crusting, and swelling from skin conditions.

How to Get It: Look for EPO that is standardized to contain 8 percent gammalinolenic acid (GLA), and always take it with food. Studies have suggested that it is the GLA found in evening primrose oil that is responsible for most of its ability to treat atopic dermatitis. Common dosages of EPO range between 2 and 6 grams per day taken in divided doses.

Contraindications and Things to Consider: EPO rarely causes side effects, but it may sometimes lead to headaches, nausea, and abdominal pain. Also keep in mind that evening primrose oil can interfere with some medications, including antibiotics, chemotherapy drugs, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), anesthetics, anticonvulsant medications, and cyclosporine.

Magnesium
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8. Magnesium

This is a very important mineral involved in metabolism and energy production as well as muscle, heart, and lung function. Magnesium may help prevent or treat a whole list of other common health problems, from sleep issues to hot flashes to constipation. A magnesium deficiency is quite common, as this mineral is not generally found in processed foods, which most people eat too much of.

How It Fights Allergy or Asthma Symptoms: Magnesium can help relieve lung constriction in people who have asthma by relaxing the smooth muscles of the bronchioles, which are the airways within your lungs. One study showed that magnesium-deficient lab animals had more histamine in their blood when exposed to allergens than animals with sufficient magnesium levels. Other studies have shown that magnesium may help treat acute asthma attacks and that people with asthma who have good magnesium intakes may have decreased wheezing and better lung function than asthmatics who have lower magnesium levels.

How to Get It: As with most minerals, the best and safest way to get more magnesium is to eat foods containing it. Magnesium is found in many foods, including buckwheat and whole-wheat flours, almonds, avocados, bananas, beans, Brazil nuts, brown rice, cocoa, and dried figs. In cases where a little extra magnesium would be helpful, a supplement can make getting magnesium easier.

The daily dose varies based on age and gender. While the RDA is 350 milligrams per day for men and 280 milligrams per day for women, the dosages used in clinical practice may be higher. Dosages as high as 1,200 milligrams in divided doses are sometimes used. Magnesium intakes greater than 800 milligrams per day are associated with a risk of diarrhea, although some people can handle these doses without a problem. To begin, I would recommend 400 milligrams per day. Magnesium may also cause a calcium deficiency, so high doses should be used with caution in people with low calcium. One study investigating magnesium's effect on allergic rhinitis found 365 milligrams per day to be an effective treatment.

Contraindications and Things to Consider: Talk to your health-care provider before you start taking magnesium, especially if you have heart or kidney disease or are taking amiloride, tetracycline antibiotics, heart medications, or oral diabetes drugs.

Probiotics
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9. Probiotics

Thanks to its powerful immune system properties, I believe everyone should take probiotics.

How It Fights Allergy or Asthma Symptoms: Not only can probiotics such as acidophilus, bifidobacterium, and lactobacillus help strengthen your immune system but also they can help control your allergies. Research shows that probiotics may regulate the immune system overreaction that occurs in allergy sufferers.

In fact, one important theory on why developed countries have higher rates of allergies is that we have fewer "good" probiotics in our flora. When you repopulate with the good guys, you can bolster your body's defenses against allergens.

There's research to back up these potentially protective effects. In a 2013 review published in the journal Current Opinion in Allergy and Clinical Immunology, researchers found that probiotics may help prevent eczema as well as respiratory allergies.

How to Get It: You can get probiotics from foods such as miso soup, some yogurts, sauerkraut, and kefir, but since you can't get too much of a good thing when it comes to probiotics, I also recommend you take probiotic supplements.

A variety of products claim to contain probiotics these days, so you have to choose carefully. Look for a probiotic supplement that needs to be refrigerated. (There are a few shelf-stable probiotic brands on the market, but most need to be refrigerated or the bacteria will die.) A quality probiotic supplement should also contain a range of different species of good bacteria, including acidophilus, bifidobacterium, and lactobacillus. Probiotics are measured in colony forming units (CFUs); look for a supplement that provides at least 5 billion CFUs. I also recommend that you switch your probiotic brand every once in a while. They all contain slightly different strains of bacteria, and it can never hurt to add fresh DNA to your beneficial bacteria gene pool.

Contraindications and Things to Consider: One word of caution regarding probiotics: If you have a compromised immune system, you need to exercise caution whenever you introduce any sort of bacteria into your system. Even bacterial strains that are normally found on and in us have the potential to be pathogenic in people with poorly functioning immune systems. Immuno-compromised individuals can greatly benefit from taking probiotics, but they need to consult with their physicians to confirm that they're using probiotic supplements that contain no potentially pathogenic bacteria.

Pycnogenol
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10. Pycnogenol

Pycnogenol is a registered trademark for a plant antioxidant that comes from the bark of the Pinus pinaster tree. It is also found in grape seed, peanut skin, and witch hazel bark.

How It Fights Allergy or Asthma Symptoms: Some research shows that pycnogenol may help reduce allergy symptoms in people with birch allergies. In a 2010 study, researchers found that pycnogenol improved symptoms of hay fever. Researchers gave 39 birch allergy sufferers pycnogenol for 5 to 8 weeks before the start of the 2009 allergy season. Once the season kicked in, participants had 35 percent lower scores for allergy symptoms pertaining to their eyes and 20.5 percent lower scores concerning their nasal allergy symptoms compared to people who took a placebo. In addition, those who took the pycnogenol had a 19.4 percent increase in their birch-specific immunoglobulin E (IgE), compared with a 31.9 percent increase in the placebo group. The participants with the best results in terms of improved allergy symptoms started taking the pycnogenol 7 to 8 weeks before the allergy season kicked in.

Pycnogenol has also been shown to help people with asthma, specifically by decreasing levels of inflammatory leukotrienes. In a 2013 study published in Food and Chemical Toxicology, pycnogenol was reported to help protect allergic asthma sufferers from attacks.

A 2002 review of studies on pycnogenol found that it may reduce symptoms and improve lung function in people with asthma. Another study found that the supplement could help children with asthma use their rescue inhalers less frequently to manage their conditions.

How to Get It: To treat allergies, take 50 to 200 milligrams of pycnogenol, twice daily. It's available in pill form and can be found at health food stores and online.

Contraindications and Things to Consider: As always, talk to your health-care provider before you start taking this supplement. Pycnogenol may cause some side effects, including headaches, stomach upset, dizziness, and mouth ulcers. It has not been proven safe during pregnancy or breastfeeding. And because it can stimulate your immune system, you should avoid taking it if you have an autoimmune disease such as multiple sclerosis, lupus, or rheumatoid arthritis. Also avoid it if you are taking an immunosuppressant medication or blood thinners.

 N-acetylcysteine
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11. N-acetylcysteine

N-acetylcysteine (NAC) is a derivative of the amino acid cysteine. It is a powerful antioxidant itself, and it's also a precursor molecule to one of your body's strongest antioxidants, glutathione. In addition to its antioxidant abilities, it is also helpful in treating respiratory conditions due to its mucus-thinning ability. More specifically, n-acetylcysteine helps break down mucus and make it less sticky. It is commonly used to help people with cystic fibrosis, a condition in which people lack the tiny, hairlike structures called cilia that sweep mucus away from the lungs. NAC helps clear the mucus from the lungs of these people so that they can breathe more easily. It can also help reduce inflammation and prevent heart disease, cancer, and other diseases related to aging.

How It Fights Allergy or Asthma Symptoms: Research shows that n-acetylcysteine also helps prevent allergy symptoms. In a 2007 study, researchers found that n-acetylcysteine inhibited eosinophils, a type of white blood cell that plays a crucial part in allergic inflammation. As a result, they concluded that n-acetylcysteine may be a useful treatment for inflammation resulting from allergic reactions.

Interestingly, NAC's role as a precursor to glutathione is also likely to be helpful in addressing allergic inflammation. Recent research has found that increasing glutathione stores using NAC counteracted allergen-induced airway reactivity and inflammation and restored the balance between oxidants and antioxidants.

How to Get It: In people with allergies and other respiratory problems, NAC doses range from 600 to 1,500 milligrams per day, taken in three divided doses. NAC is available in a liquid form or aerosol spray by prescription, or over the counter as tablets or capsules.

Contraindications and Things to Consider: Side effects of NAC are rare, but they may include nausea and vomiting. Those with peptic ulcers should not take NAC. Also, talk to your health-care provider before taking NAC if you are on immunosuppressive or antifungal medications, if you are pregnant.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids
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12. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids that help fight inflammation by balancing out their proinflammatory cousins, the omega-6 fatty acids.

In a review of studies on omega-3s published in American Family Physician, researchers found that, when given in doses of at least 3 grams a day, omega-3 fatty acids helped lower inflammation, stiffness, and pain in people with rheumatoid arthritis. Omega-3s can also help fight heart disease and cancer and protect your brain from depression and dementia.

How It Fights Allergy or Asthma Symptoms: In a 2005 German study, researchers looked at 325 women and 243 men and found that those with a high content of omega-3 fatty acids in their red blood cells—particularly eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)—had fewer hay fever symptoms than people with lower levels of omega-3s.

In a 2010 study published in Respiratory Medicine, researchers examined the dietary intake of fish oil in 38 people with allergic asthma and 19 people without asthma. They then exposed the participants to grass pollen. The researchers found that the asthmatics had higher ratios of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids than those without asthma and that those with the lowest intakes of omega-3 fatty acids had the strongest allergic reactions during the grass pollen challenge.

Researchers have also found that omega-3 fatty acids seem to help prevent allergies as early as the prenatal stage. In a 2011 study published in the journal BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, researchers found that women who took omega-3 fatty acid supplements during pregnancy were less likely to have children who went on to suffer from asthma and allergies than pregnant women who did not take omega-3 supplements.

How to Get It: You can get omega-3 fatty acids from foods, such as flaxseed, soybeans, spinach, walnuts, and oily fish. Anchovies, bluefish, herring, Atlantic salmon, Atlantic halibut, black cod, and sardines are the best fish sources. However, there's a limit to how much fish you can eat because of the potential for mercury contamination. As discussed, limit your fish servings to one to two per week. Different species of fish are known to have higher levels of environmental contaminants; the worst offenders are shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish.

Contraindications and Things to Consider: Omega-3 fatty acids are generally considered safe. The most frequently seen adverse effects are gastrointestinal upset and the notorious "fish burps" experienced by some. Some people have found that freezing fish-oil capsules or taking them prior to a meal can help reduce the incidence of burping. Additionally, research has found that fish oil has a blood-thinning effect that can compound the effects of blood-thinning medications such as warfarin and aspirin.

elderberries
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13. Quercetin

A type of antioxidant called a flavonoid, quercetin is found in some fruits and vegetables, such as apples, berries, broccoli, capers, garlic, lettuce, red grapes, red onions, and tomatoes as well as in black tea and wine.

How It Fights Allergy or Asthma Symptoms: Quercetin is one of my favorite supplements for allergies. It seems to work as a mast cell stabilizer, blocking the histamine that unleashes the swelling and itching of allergic reactions. In addition to its antihistamine properties, quercetin also appears to block tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and prostaglandins, thus fighting inflammation.

With respect to allergies, in a 2012 study, researchers found that quercetin was more effective than the allergy drug cromolyn sodium in blocking mast cell cytokines and helping to prevent contact dermatitis and photosensitivity. These are two allergic skin conditions that don't usually respond well to conventional medications.

How to Get It: Quercetin typically comes in 250-, 300-, or 500-milligram capsules. For allergies, the usual dose is between 200 and 500 milligrams, three times a day.

Contraindications and Things to Consider: There are none, so you can feel completely at ease taking this supplement, even if you're currently taking other medications. That said, always consult with an experienced physician, just to be safe.

brazil nuts
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14. Selenium

One of the best antioxidant minerals out there, selenium can help fight damage from free radicals, reduce inflammation, and boost your immune system. As a result, it may help prevent a number of diseases and conditions, including cancer, macular degeneration, eczema, and asthma.

How It Fights Allergy or Asthma Symptoms: A few studies have shown that people who are deficient in selenium are more likely to suffer from asthma attacks than people with adequate levels of the mineral.

How to Get It: You can get selenium from some foods, including barley, Brazil nuts, brown rice, dairy, garlic, oats, orange juice, turnips, wheat germ, and seafood. The actual amount of selenium you get depends on how much of the mineral was in the soil in which your food was grown. Most crop land today is selenium-deficient, so a selenium supplement is probably the best way to go.

Selenium supplements come in organic and inorganic forms, and in capsules, extended-release tablets, and regular tablets. Research shows that organic supplements may be preferred because they are easier for your body to absorb. A typical safe dose for adults is up to 200 micrograms.

Contraindications and Things to Consider: Selenium is one of the most toxic of the essential minerals, and although doses greater than 200 micrograms per day have been used in the research setting, taking larger doses is only advisable under the care of an experienced physician.

Zinc
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15. Zinc

One of the most important trace minerals in your body, zinc is considered essential, meaning that you must get it from your diet. It's also essential for normal growth, development, and reproduction. Zinc plays a significant role in immunity, which is why zinc lozenges help fight the common cold.

How It Fights Allergy or Asthma Symptoms: Zinc is an antioxidant that can help combat inflammation. Low levels of zinc have been linked with an increased risk of asthma symptoms, such as chest tightness, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chronic cough. A 1997 study published in the journal Thorax linked zinc deficiency with an increased risk of asthma and allergies. And a 2011 review done at the University of Edinburgh Medical School in Scotland examined 62 studies and concluded that zinc deficiency, among deficiencies of other nutrients, was associated with increased risk of asthma and allergies.

How to Get It: Zinc sulfate is the most common zinc supplement. This is the least-expensive form of zinc, but it is also the least absorbed by the body. It can also cause nausea in some people. The better forms are zinc citrate, zinc glycerate, zinc monomethionine, and zinc acetate. For zinc-responsive conditions, dosages of 20 to 30 milligrams one to three times per day for 1 to 2 months have been used. After this initial period, the dosage should be reduced to a maintenance dose of 10 to 20 milligrams daily. Zinc can also be found in foods such as grains, legumes, meats, seafood, wheat bran, wheat germ, nuts, and seeds.

Contraindications and Things to Consider: Potential side effects of zinc include nausea, vomiting, and a metallic taste in your mouth. Zinc can be toxic in large doses, so remember that more is not necessarily better. One concern is that taking too much zinc can deplete copper levels in your body. Zinc can also interfere with the absorption of some other minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, and iron.

Talk to your health-care provider before taking large doses of zinc through supplements, especially if you are taking blood pressure medication, hormone replacement therapy, diuretics, drugs to reduce stomach acid, immunosuppressants, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), muscle relaxants, or antibiotics.

Adapted from Dr. Psenka's Seasonal Allergy Solution

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