Smoking puts the lungs at an increased risk for cellular damage. After smoking cessation, vitamins can help repair lung damage. However, seek the advice of a medical professional before trying to prevent, treat or cure any lung condition. Smoking leads to the increased oxidative damage of lung tissue. Essentially, the toxins found in cigarette smoke cause the increased production of free radicals that attach themselves to lung cells and cause their damage or death, according to a study published in 2008 in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. Therefore, you need antioxidants to help the lungs recover. Vitamin C, a water-soluble vitamin found in foods including citrus fruits, broccoli and bell peppers, is one such vitamin. Vitamin C has the ability to reduce the harmful effects of toxic cigarette smoke, the researchers said.
Many supplements are useful for smokers or during withdrawal and detoxification. An acid urine increases the elimination of nicotine and thus increases the craving. So, while an alkaline diet may slow down the detoxification of nicotine, it also reduces the desire for smoking. To support the body alkalinization during smoking cessation, I recommend sodium or potassium bicarbonate tablets, one to be taken with cravings for a total of five or six daily, along with the fruit- and vegetable-based, high-fiber diet.
A general "multiple " with additional antioxidant nutrients are part of the smoker’s program. The antioxidants help reduce the toxicity of smoke in primary and secondary smokers and also help lessen the free-radical irritation during the detox period. Vitamin E, 400–800 IUs daily, specifically helps stabilize the cell membranes and protects them and the tissue membranes from the free-radical and chemical irritations generated by cigarette smoke. Selenium, as sodium selenite or selenomethionine, at a level of 200–300 mcg., supports vitamin E and also reduces cancer potential, which is so much higher with chronic smoking. Selenium also lessens sensitivity to cadmium. Vitamin A reduces cancer risk and supports tissue health, and beta-carotene specifically protects against lung cancer in smokers. Smoking clearly depletes body vitamin C levels, probably by increasing antioxidant demands and reducing absorption. Therefore, smokers need regular vitamin C intake to help neutralize the toxins. Supplementing 500–2,000 mg. four or five times daily is recommended. (Note: Both vitamin C and niacin are mild acids, which may increase ulcer risk, as well as nicotine elimination and craving in smokers. If these nutrients are used in higher amounts, extra alkaline salts such as the bicarbonates or calcium-magnesium ascorbates, may be used.) Extra zinc, 30–60 mg. a day, like vitamin A, helps protect the tissue and mucous membrane health.
There are many other helpful nutrients needed during smoking and detox. First, we need to support the B vitamins that are more easily depleted in smokers, mainly thiamine (B1), pyridoxine (B6), and cobalamin (B12). The B12 may also help to decrease the cellular damage caused by tars and nicotine. Niacin (B3) helps in opening up the circulation that is constricted with nicotine. It also lowers cholesterol, which may reduce the risk of atherosclerosis. Pantothenic acid may reduce the aging of the skin and support the generally stressful lifestyle. Folic acid should be taken in higher amounts, such as 1–2 mg. daily. Coenzyme Q10 is also helpful in dosages of 50–100 mg. daily. Extra choline may support the brain and memory.
Besides zinc and selenium, other minerals also are important. Magnesium and molybdenum are needed in higher amounts than usual. Copper is needed at levels of 3–4 mg. daily, when used along with a higher zinc intake (60–100 mg.). Zinc also helps reduce cadmium absorption and toxicity. Vitamins C and E, selenium, and L-cysteine also help to reduce cadmium toxicity.
L-cysteine is very helpful to smokers and during detoxification. Along with thiamine and vitamin C, it protects the lungs from smoking damage and from acetaldehyde generated by smoke. It helps reduce smoker’s cough. Glutathione, formed from L-cysteine, is part of the protective antioxidant enzyme system. Heavy smokers might use 250–500 mg. of glutathione, up to 1,500 mg. (500–750 mg. more usually) of L-cysteine, with 5–6 g. of vitamin C, 150 mg. thiamine, and the total B vitamins and amino acids to balance the specific ones used.
To prevent obesity, it is very important to be aware of eating properly when stopping smoking. Smoking reduces appetites and the taste for foods and probably increases metabolism as well as nervous energy. It is natural to want to eat more and enjoy food more when not smoking. Over half of ex-smokers will gain weight, and this is more common in the heavier (use) smokers. If weight gain is undesirable (many smokers are underweight), a weight-control diet should be instituted as smoking is stopped. Research has shown that smokers crave and eat less sweets than nonsmokers. This changes with smoking cessation (the taste buds come alive again), so new nonsmokers need to watch out for this. The alkaline, high-fiber, low-fat diet is helpful in maintaining weight. Another amino acid, L-phenylalanine, can help reduce the appetite if taken before meals in amounts of 250–500 mg. Because it has a mild tendency to raise blood pressure, this should monitored if the blood pressure is of concern. Often, however, the blood pressure drops somewhat with smoking cessation. More choline may improve fat utilization and maintain weight, as may the amino acid L-carnitine. Regular exercise, walking, and getting used to breathing deeply of the fresh air are also part of our new plan.