Nitrate supplements improve lung function in COVID-19
Scientists recently conducted a study in mice that found that a nitrate supplement could increase the performance of the diaphragm. In addition, the results show that nitrate improves function in the diaphragm, the muscle involved in coughing and breathing. It does this by increasing the strength of the muscle. So the study conducted on old laboratory mice could represent a new potential strategy against COVID-19 when replicating in humans. This could help the lungs clear themselves more effectively, helping people avoid the infection.
Effects of nitrate food supplements
Previous studies showed that nitrate helps muscles by improving the use of calcium in muscles. This finding that it also affects strength is particularly important in the context of COVID-19, as the diaphragm is the primary muscle we breathe. The lungs can thus not only breathe, but also cough, the latter being relevant for cleaning the lungs. So a research team from the University of Florida found that nitrate supplements produced a significant increase in the contractile function and strength of the diaphragm. The scientists also carried out their measurements during maximum activation. Thus, the observed effects appeared to be due to an improvement in the function of contractile proteins rather than to the handling of calcium. Few short-term interventions have such a profound impact on contractile muscle function.
Nitrate in food is readily available to most people and often harmful. However, if properly supervised, it could help improve respiratory muscle dysfunction, which leads to shortness of breath and morbidity in the elderly. So the researchers gave old mice daily sodium nitrate in their drinking water for 14 days. The control group, however, regularly received normal water. As a rule, science cannot directly assess the contractile function of the diaphragm in living animals or humans. For this reason, the research team tested lung function in muscle tissues under controlled conditions for muscle stimulation and oxygenation. The main limitations, however, are primarily that the diaphragm of mouse and human have different percentages of fast and slow muscle cells. The diaphragm of the mouse, for example, consists of 90% fast muscle cells. The human diaphragm consists of 25-50% fast muscle cells, depending on various factors such as age and gender.
So nitrate supplements seem to have a greater impact on the contractile function of fast muscle cells. Therefore, the benefits to the human diaphragm may not be as pronounced as in mice. The researchers also tested male mice only, which cannot yet confirm the benefits for women. However, the results from the study are particularly important given the current COVID-19 pandemic. So this chemical is useful in a diet or as a nutritional supplement and can improve the functioning of the respiratory muscles. In addition, this could help wean patients with coronavirus from mechanical ventilation.
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