Smoking puts the lungs at increased risk for cellular damage. After smoking cessation, vitamins can help repair lung damage. 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. 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." Antioxidants will help your lungs recover. Vitamin C, a water-soluble vitamin found in foods including citrus fruits, broccoli and bell peppers, is a powerful antioxidant. The vitamin may reduce the harmful effects of toxic cigarette smoke, according to the researchers.
Vitamin E has been found to help reduce the risk of smoking-related lung tumors. The vitamin helps cells of the body communicate effectively with each other. It is abundant in wheat germ, mustard greens, tomatoes and almonds. Mice that were given vitamin E supplements showed a drastically reduced incidence of lung tumors in a study published in a 2008 issue 0f "Biomed Central Cancer." In addition, less DNA damage and cell death was observed in the rodent's lung tissue.
Vitamin B-6 is a water-soluble vitamin that's required by the central nervous system, particularly for the synthesis of neurotransmitters that are signaling brain chemicals. The vitamin has also been found to help current smokers as well as former smokers improve their lung health. A study published in 2011 in the "Journal of the American Medical Association" found that higher vitamin B-6 blood levels were linked to a lowered risk of lung cancer in current and past smokers.
Vitamin A Warning
Although antioxidants in food generally provide health benefits to people who take them, there is evidence that one in particular may have the opposite effect. A study published in 2009 in the "American Journal of Epidemiology" found that a group of people ages 50 to 75 who took high doses of beta-carotene had an increased risk for lung cancer. The researchers mention that those who currently smoke are especially at risk. The researchers also recommend that those looking to improve lung function after smoking cessation refrain from using high doses of beta-carotene supplements in the long term.
- Biomed Central Cancer: Antioxidant Intervention of Smoking-Induced Lung Tumor in Mice by Vitamin E and Quercetin: December 2008: Jie Yang, at al.
- Journal of the American Medical Association: Serum B Vitamin Levels and Risk of Lung Cancer: January 2011: Mattias Johnson, Ph.D., et el.
- American Journal of Epidemiology: Long-term Use of b-Carotene, Retinol, Lycopene, and Lutein Supplements and Lung Cancer Risk: Results From the VITamins And Lifestyle (VITAL) Study: February 2009: Jessie A. Satia, et al.