Remember how high doses of nicotine can dehydrate your body? It seems a daily absorption of it can also deplete the vitamins and minerals in your body. That’s why it’s important to take health supplements while you’re transitioning from smoking to vaping.
The Naturally Healthy Concepts blog mentioned that the NYU Langone Medical Center found out that cigarette smokers may lack sufficient levels of the following nutrients:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids
* It should be noted that a large double-blind study indicated that heavy smokers who supplement with beta-carotene could increase their risk of lung cancer. For this reason, you may want to avoid such supplements until after you’ve successfully quit smoking, or look for a multivitamin with a lower dosage of beta-carotene/Vitamin A.
But, which vitamins and minerals should you take and how much of each daily? Here are some suggestions to help speed up the smoking cessation process.
Take a Lot of Vitamin C or Ascorbic Acid
The immune system takes a hard beating when you’re smoking. That doesn’t end when you start vaping although the amount of damage is reduced. Yet, you’ll still need a heavy dose of Vitamin C to help things along as you try to recover from years of smoking tobacco. Here’s how McVitamins describes the damage wrought by smoking on the levels of ascorbic acid in your body:
Smokers have below-normal levels of Vitamin C – as much as 40 percent lower in pack-a-day smokers. Cigarettes rob you body of Vitamin C by breaking down and excreting it much faster than normal. Studies show that people exposed to second hand smoke also need extra Vitamin C. Toxic substances from the cigarettes destroy the Vitamin C.
Because vitamin C is slowly being depleted, collagen production is also reduced. And this means, your skin becomes saggier in some areas and forms many fine wrinkles. This is why smokers look older than their real age.
Supplement with Vitamin E That Contains a Healthy Mix of Tocopherols
Vitamin E is commonly available in alpha-tocopherol form although the one with the strongest antioxidant properties is known as gamma-tocopherol. For best results, take a form of Vitamin E that has a healthy mix of tocopherols (alpha, beta, delta and gamma).
The Mayo Clinic assures people that “Vitamin E is likely safe when used in healthy adults at doses commonly found in food, and in healthy people over 65 at doses up to 800 IU taken by mouth daily for up to four months.” However, the clinic’s experts also warn that it should be used cautiously by smokers.
In 2014, researchers from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden tried giving the same dosage of Vitamin E found in health supplements to mice that were suffering from very early stages of lung cancer. They found out that the vitamin actually stimulated the growth of cancer in the rodents.
Thus, the researchers advised everyone ” that the vitamin and other antioxidants are ‘used with caution’ by smokers, lung cancer patients and people with bronchitis, emphysema and other smoking-related lung conditions known collectively as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.”
Choose the Right Amounts of B Vitamins and Amino Acids
Aside from taking a lion’s share of antioxidants to strengthen your immune system, you’ll also help your body recover faster from the consequences of free-radical damage caused by smoking when you take the right mix of Vitamin B Complex nutrients (as described below by McVitamins and FlowingFree.org).
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine): It helps regulate the nervous system and stabilize mood. A lack of B1 can result to irritability, depression, fatigue and difficulty in concentrating.
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): This nutrient promotes healthy red blood cells, which transport oxygen throughout the body. This means there’s more oxygen reaching the brain and a greater capacity to stay alert.
Vitamin B3 (Niacin): Also called nicotinic acid, Vitamin B3 is chemically similar to nicotine. It also helps to dilate blood vessels and improve circulation – the opposite of nicotine, which causes blood vessels to constrict. Taking niacin or niacinamide while also using an electronic nicotine delivery system or ENDS may increase the likelihood of dizziness and looking flushed. It’s a minor consequence, but it may worsen allergies.
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid): It reduces the effects of stress and it’s important for proper adrenal function. Vitamin B5 is also necessary for a healthy metabolism.
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine): It helps synthesize the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin and regulate the nervous system. It controls your mood swings, irritability anxiety and depression. It also metabolizes the fats and proteins in your body and may help to control cravings and weight gain that often occur when quitting smoking.
Vitamin B7 (Biotin): It’s essential for the breaking down of dietary fats, proteins and carbohydrates. It helps to stabilize blood sugar levels. Biotin also helps the body get rid of toxins.
Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid): Folic Acid is important for proper functioning of the nervous system. It also reduces the effects of nicotine on the lungs and protects from cell damage which may lead to cancer.
Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin): It’s vital for maintaining energy levels in the body. Vitamin B12 also helps to decrease cellular damage. Make sure you take vitamin B12 at least one hour after taking vitamin C because ascorbic acid destroys cobalamin quickly.
Choline: It’s needed for the healthy conversion of fats in the body. Choline nourishes the brain and supports healthy cognitive function.
Inositol: This nutrient helps in the metabolism of fats and cholesterol. It has a calming effect on the brain and has been shown to be beneficial for treating depression, insomnia, panic and other psychiatric disorders. Inositol has also been discovered to reverse cell damage in the lining of the airways of the lungs, turning precancerous cells back to normal.
Many websites related to quitting smoking and to vaping also recommended the use of herbs to fight the effects of free-radical damage caused by tobacco smoking, but this topic deserves a more detailed post. As of now, the use of these vitamins and other essential nutrients is more important and urgent than the application of herbal remedies.
Most important of all, before buying that bottle of multivitamins from the pharmacist consult your doctor first on which vitamins to take and at what dosage.