Last week we discussed a handful of nutritional deficiencies in part one of this two-part blog series. Today we will discuss five more nutritional deficiencies and their connect to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). By understanding these nutritional deficiencies, it is my hope that you can further improve the care and treatment of your patients who are currently suffering from sleep apnea. Let’s take a look:


In one case report, selenium supplementation completely stopped snoring caused by non-obesity sleep apnea. It’s role as a potent antioxidant may help to reduce the oxidative stress seen in sleep apnea patients. Selenium deficiency has been linked to adverse mood states and several lines of evidence have shown that it is crucially important in the maintenance and modulation of different brain functions. Selenium may also have some role in regulation of sleep and in development of insomnia.

Copper and Minerals

Considered a strong predictor of oxidative stress in sleep apnea patients, copper’s role as a key cofactor in the powerful antioxidant superoxide dismutase (SOD) explains the connection with SOD being very low in sleep apnea patients.

Additionally, the trace minerals zinc, copper, magnesium, manganese and selenium are critical cofactors in the major antioxidant enzymes, which are important for repairing cellular damage caused by a lack of oxygen in sleep apnea.


Low levels of Glutathione are linked to sleep apnea. Glutathione helps repair liver damage caused by sleep apnea. The relationship between glutathione and sleep has been shown to defend the cells from destructive agents such as chemical toxins and heavy metals that assault the cells and inhibit their optimum function, causing disease and accelerate the aging process. The two areas involved in sleep are the thalamus and hypothalamus, which are particularly vulnerable to glutathione depletion and can cause sleeping problems.


Oral supplementation with cysteine, the precursor to glutathione, has therapeutic potential for sleep apnea. Snore time and duration were significantly reduced for patients treated with N-acetyl cysteine compared to untreated sleep apnea patients.

Please feel free to contact my office for further discussion of nutritional deficiencies within our patients. By better understanding various symptoms and outcomes, we can definitely remain ahead of the game with providing proper treatment for our patients suffering from sleep apnea.