Part of the life of a singer is looking after yourself. What you put into your body has a major impact on what comes out – your voice. But how do you work out what’s best to take?
Knowing what vitamins are best for singing can help you protect your voice, especially from the viruses of the winter months. There are many pills and supplements for singers, and your voice will thank you for giving it what it needs to thrive.
What you eat and drink as a singer is so important, while the range of pills and potions on the market can be overwhelming. In this article, we’ll take a look at the most effective natural remedies and health boosters for vocalists.
What vitamins are best for singing?
Vitamins, as we know them, have been used since the term was first coined in 1912 by a Polish biochemist, Casimir Funk. But in their natural form, vitamins and minerals go back as far as history itself, found in foods and plants. So if they are naturally occurring and part of our diets, why do we need to take them in tablet form?
There’s a lot of controversies when it comes to supplements. It’s hard to prove efficacy and some versions are more effective than others. But certain vitamins and minerals are known to have an impact on immunity, specific ailments and conditions.
The best pills and supplements for singers and your voice
Having a strong respiratory system is important for singers, along with the ability to fight off colds and flu quickly. Unlike some other professions, it’s hard to do your job as a performer when you’re unwell and good energy levels are required for live performances. This is why a nutritious diet is important. However, you can give yourself a helping hand by taking some high-quality supplements, particularly if you are prone to certain health issues.
Does vitamin C help your voice?
This is probably the first vitamin that comes to mind when you think about supplements. It’s massively popular, mostly due to its ability to fend off the common cold, the scourge of our winters. Taking it before you catch a bug, can reduce the length and symptoms you experience – ideal for those who have to sing through a cold. This vitamin also helps your body to repair itself, including the bones, tendons, ligaments, teeth, hair and skin. If you’ve strained your vocal cords, or sustained vocal damage, this vitamin may reduce your healing time a little.
Is vitamin C good for singers?
There can be some side effects though, most commonly a slightly upset stomach. So do be careful not to take too much before a show. How do you know if you have a vitamin C deficiency? Well, rough skin, bleeding gums, weak tooth enamel, split ends, bruising, poor immunity (catching lots of bugs) and painful joints can all be telltale signs.
What vitamin is good for your voice?
Vitamin A assists the vital organs, including the lungs, the powerhouse of the voice. However, too much of this vitamin can be toxic. It’s also far more unusual to have a deficiency in this than others. If you have difficulty producing tears, check with your doctor, as this can be a sign of lack of vitamin A. Otherwise, you’ll get plenty from a standard multivitamin. Or consume it in the following foods: carrots, butternut squash, orange peppers, milk, eggs and meat.
Vitamin B is broken down into several categories,
- Thiamin (vitamin B1)
- riboflavin (vitamin B2)
- niacin (vitamin B3)
- pantothenic acid
- vitamin B6
- biotin (vitamin B7)
- folate and folic acid
- vitamin B12
The roles of the B vitamins include helping the nervous system function properly, providing energy and in the case of B6, aiding oxygen flow around the body. If you take a vitamin B supplement, it’s better to do so early in the day, as it can give you a burst of energy – not great just before bed. Food sources rich in vitamin B include: whole grains (brown rice, barley, millet), meat (red meat, poultry, fish), eggs and dairy products (milk, cheese), legumes (beans, lentils), seeds and nuts (sunflower seeds, almonds), dark, leafy vegetables (broccoli, spinach, kale) and fruits (lemons, oranges, avocados, bananas).
Vitamin D comes primarily from sunlight. Because of this, people living in the northern hemisphere can often suffer deficiencies, especially those who are used to living in warmer climes. It’s also found in oily fish, liver and egg yolks, so vegetarians and vegans may struggle to ingest enough of it. Because of this, it’s well worth considering a supplement including vitamin D, especially in the wintertime. Although rare, vocal cord dysfunction has been linked to a lack of this vitamin. But don’t take more than the recommended daily allowance, as this can weaken bones and damage the kidneys and heart. Do get out in the daylight as much as possible though, being sure to use an adequate SPF for the sun.
Vitamin E is another immune-boosting vitamin that also improves your skin and nails. It’s found naturally in plant oils, seeds, nuts and wheat germ. Your body stores this vitamin, so it’s unlikely you’ll experience a lack of it.
Vitamin K aids blood clotting and bone metabolism so isn’t directly associated with the voice. Nor is a specific supplement required, unless you have a specific related health issue, such as issues with excessive and abnormal bleeding and bruising.
B12 deficiency and hoarseness
The body doesn’t produce this vitamin and as it’s found in animal products, those with plant-based diets need to be aware of the signs of deficiency. While there have been no clinical trials to confirm its effects on singing, it’s widely thought that the anti-inflammatory properties within it, help remedy hoarseness. The increased energy effects can also help with performing. Eat plenty of liver, oily fish, kidneys, eggs, fortified cereals or fortified non-dairy milk, to up your intake of B12.
Vitamins for voice loss
Voice loss poses a serious problem to the professional singer, but due to workload can occur all too frequently. To treat your voice loss, you must first identify the cause. Is it vocal strain, or a virus? If the latter, do everything you can do boost the immune system, by taking an increased dose of vitamin C, zinc and echinacea (more on those later). If it’s a vocal strain, you must rest the voice sufficiently. Take a multivitamin that includes A, B, C, D and E to assist with the healing process and eat good foods.
What vitamins are good for singers with laryngitis?
As with hoarseness, vitamin B12 may help reduce the inflammation associated with this condition. Laryngologists have very differing opinions on it though, so there’s no evidence it will definitely work.
Voice remedies for singers – minerals
Let’s move on to the minerals that can help your voice. These often come part and parcel of a high-quality multivitamin. But what are the ones to look out for, or possibly take individually?
Magnesium helps regulate sleep and ease aches and pains. If you suffer from insomnia as an artist – especially if you have to keep irregular hours and work till late at night – this can really help. When we’re stressed or nervous, we lose more magnesium than normal through our urine. So if you often experience pre-show anxiety, you might become deficient in this and so struggle to sleep, resulting in fatigue and poor immune resilience.
High potency grapine is a natural anti-histamine created from grape seeds and maritime pine bark. If you have allergies and have to sing in dusty venues, or around pollen, this is a lifesaver and an alternative to chemical compounds.
Omega oils have many benefits, but for singers, the significant ones are increased brain function (needed to remember lyrics and stay on the ball) and the reduction of anxiety, including performance anxiety.
Iron deficiencies sometimes occur in winter, especially for women. In terms of performing, the mineral improves energy and focus, gastrointestinal processes, the immune system, and the regulation of body temperature
The voice, tablets and medicine
Vitamins and minerals in appropriate quantities can improve your health and wellbeing. But take too much of something your body doesn’t need and they can make you sick. Because of this, you must always follow the package guidelines and if you have a deficiency, speak to your doctor. In some cases, individuals need an extra-strong dose of a vitamin or mineral. This would be prescribed by your doctor and could be in the form of a pill from the pharmacist, or an injection. A simple blood test can identify if you’re low on anything.
Zinc for singers
This is another important mineral, not only in its own right but in its impact on vitamin C absorption. You’ll often see packages of vitamins that combine the two, and this is because vitamin C can be flushed through your system, with enough zinc to help it stay and do its magic.
Is zinc good for your voice?
While it doesn’t affect your voice directly, zinc will help you heal and assist your immune system, as do many other minerals and vitamins.
Herbs for vocal cords
We’ve covered vitamins and minerals, but there’s another category of supplements that are both age-old and very now: herbs. Let’s begin with the queen of singers’ herbs, echinacea. This herb boost the immune system and helps protect against colds – the artists’ nemesis.
It’s available in all good health food stores and can be taken in higher doses when you need increased protection (the packaging will indicate what this is and what the standard dosage should be). This herb shouldn’t be taken continuously, but rather on two weeks on, two weeks off basis otherwise its efficacy is reduced.
Natural drugs that make you sing better
There’s no magic pill to make you sound amazing. But having a healthy mind and body that resists infection, will help you become a more energetic, happy and resilient performer. Increased immunity will prevent having to cancel gigs due to illness, or sounding croaky and bunged up with a cold.
Vocal cord supplements
If you experience allergies or inflammation, eating liquorice, or drinking liquorice tea can help. Turmeric and oregano also have a similar effect – and they taste great in curries and Italian dishes respectively. And be sure to practice good vocal hygiene and take care of those cords.
Natural foods are packed with good things, so be mindful of how you eat and choose meals that won’t clog up the throat and voice.
Supplements for vocal cord nodules
Some conditions can contribute to the formation of nodules. These are acid reflux, allergies, sinusitis and thyroid problems. If any are an underlying cause then there may be specific supplements and medication that’ll help that condition and in turn, help the nodules. This isn’t something you should experiment with though. Nodules have a big impact o your ability to sing, so it’s important to see a specialist and follow their advice. But above all, you must rest that voice.
Ever wondered what your vocal cords do when you’re singing? Check out this video, taken with a tiny camera placed in the throat.
What helps a singer’s throat?
Here are some of the top things you can do for your throat. Taking supplements is not a key factor, but it is a consideration in line with your overall health.
- Take vocal naps and rest regularly.
- Drink lots of water – and not too cold.
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Eat a good diet.
- Warm-up and warm-down before singing.
The best medicinal tea for singers
We’ve talked about echinacea and if you’re not a fan of taking pills or tablets, this herb can be prepared in tea form. Drink this regularly throughout winter to help stay healthy. It’s also a caffeine-free alternative to sipping black or green varieties of tea.
The best supplement drink for the singing voice
It’s not only echinacea that’s available in liquid form. All vitamins can be ingested as a juice or smoothie. Pack lots of vitamin-rich fruit and veg into a blender, with some mixed seeds, dairy or non-dairy milk to make your own tasty drink. Alternate ingredients so you’re getting a bit of everything. You can also buy vitamin-rich water – just be careful not to opt for one of the many high-sugar varieties as this will undo all the good you’re doing.
In summary, what should a singer take in the way of supplements? A daily or weekly multi-vitamin complex with minerals will be just fine for most people and some may need nothing at all. In flu season it’s a good idea to take vitamin C with zinc and echinacea. There are no guarantees, as there just isn’t enough research into this field. But many people find it makes a big difference.
If you think you might need more of anything, in particular, chat to your doctor, or speak to a pharmacist and never take more than your RDA (recommended daily allowance) unless advised otherwise by a medical professional. Always buy your supplements from a reputable source, ideally a recognised health food shop, in-store or online.
What should I eat to have a good singing voice?
Eat a balanced diet with plenty of fresh vegetables and some fruit. Cut down (or cut out) dairy products. Ensure you’re getting enough protein, particularly if following a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.
Do drugs affect your singing voice?
Both prescription and recreational drugs can impact your singing and performance (although not all will). Always read the side effects of medications, to understand how they may impact your daily life, if at all. Taking the RDA of a vitamin or mineral will not have a negative impact on your voice.
Is lemon good for singers?
Yes, but in moderation. It helps to bring clarity to the voice and cut through mucus. But too much of the acidity in this fruit will dry the voice out. Take it with warm water and a drop of honey – manuka ideally.
What vitamins have you found to be the best for singing? Do you take supplements for your voice? Let us know in the comments below.