Is the air filter at home resulting in healthy lungs? Here's what the RealAge doctors have to say about home air filters.
Air-filtering systems seem like they'd be the best things for your lungs since snorkels. Air filters are supposed to take allergens out of the air, but unfortunately, many of them don't work that well. The primary reason isn't mechanical malfunction -- it's owner malfunction. People don't change the home air filters often enough, so they're not all that effective.
Aside from home air filters, taking vitamins is another do-it-yourself practice that can lead to unhealthy or healthy lungs. For example, vitamin A and beta carotene are good for your lungs. But supplementing your diet with individual doses of these two antioxidants can lead to megadosing -- that is, taking in more than 2,500 international units (IU) of vitamin A or the vitamin A equivalent in beta carotene -- from supplements.
When you add individual doses to what you are likely already getting from food, the nutrient doesn't serve its purpose as a disease-fighting antioxidant. In fact, it does the opposite and oxidizes tissue, which can cause DNA damage. One study from Finland found that people who took vitamin A had a higher risk of lung cancer, atherosclerosis, and, for smokers, stroke. So if you take vitamin A or beta carotene, choose one that contains under 1,500 to 2,500 IU a day, because you'll get some in food as well.