Nicotine causes dependency on the drug over time, resulting in withdrawal symptoms when you try to quit smoking. After nicotine goes into your lungs, it enters your bloodstream and affects areas throughout your body, including your brain, heart, blood vessels and hormones. Nerve cells in the brain cause the pleasant feelings from nicotine that make you want to continue smoking. Nicotine also robs your body of nutrients, which you need to replace when you smoke or quit smoking as nicotine leaves the body.
Even when you quit smoking, nicotine remains in your body for three to four days, according to the American Cancer Society. Your body initially craves its regular dosage of the drug, which leads to the withdrawal symptoms you may experience within hours after quitting. Your withdrawal symptoms may last for three days or more as nicotine and its byproducts exit the body. Symptoms include anxiety, irritability, sleep disorders, trouble concentrating and mood changes. A healthy diet helps replenish nutrients your body lost while smoking. Vitamins can help in the process of flushing nicotine from your system during smoking cessation by repairing damage the drug caused.
Vitamins C and E
Smoking causes serious depletion of vitamin E, but vitamin C stops the depletion, according to Medical News Today. Researchers at the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University found that taking 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C daily helped protect vitamin E function in volunteers. The vitamin reduced depletion of vitamin E by up to 45 percent in smokers. Vitamin E acts as a protective antioxidant to fight free radicals that increase in the body from smoking. The free radicals cause cell damage in the lung membranes and other tissues. Taking vitamins C and E while smoking or during smoking cessation helps the body combat damage caused by nicotine. The vitamins also work together in the body to strengthen immunity. The weakened immune response from nicotine addiction leads to increased illnesses and serious disorders, including heart disease. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables for dietary sources of vitamin C and eggs or cereal grains for vitamin E.
Smokers lose vitamin A, which normally protects you from lung infections. Taking vitamin A may protect you from lung damage that leads to cancer, but research continues on how much protection it provides. Heavy smokers with low levels of vitamin A have been found to have three times the risk of cancer as heavy smokers with normal levels of vitamin A, the American Cancer Society notes. Whether or not vitamin A can protect you from lung damage due to smoking, replenishing your body with the vitamin can improve your health as nicotine leaves the body. Dairy products, including eggs and milk, contain vitamin A.
Stress may play a significant role during withdrawal from nicotine, as your body still strongly desires a dose of the drug even as nicotine slowly exits the body. Vitamin B-5 helps manufacture stress-related hormones and has been called an “anti-stress” vitamin, although evidence remains inconclusive on its effectiveness to fight stress, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Vitamin B-5 may help avoid other symptoms of withdrawal; deficiencies of the vitamin can lead to insomnia, depression, irritability and upper respiratory infections. You can boost your vitamin B-5 levels by avoiding processed foods, which deplete the vitamin, and consuming more vegetables, whole grains and fresh meats.
- American Cancer Society: Guide to Quitting Smoking – Why is it so Hard to Quit Smoking?
- Medical News Today: Vitamin C Supplements Can Largely Stop the Depletion of Vitamin E That Occurs in Smokers
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)
- Stop-Smoking-Tips.com: Effects of Smoking on Vitamin A and C