If you have recently quit smoking, or if you are getting ready to embark on a smoking cessation program – congratulations! You have taken the first steps to improved health and a longer, happier life.
Years of smoking can take quite a toll on your physiology and appearance. Among other things, excessive smoking causes the production of harmful free radicals in the body.
But it is possible to reverse some of this damage, and vitamins play a big part in the healing process. Antioxidants found in many vitamin compounds can eliminate free radical activity and restore your body to a healthy state.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that everyone needs to stay healthy, but smokers have a special need for this compound. Smoking depletes the body of ascorbic acid, so a smoker will need up to three times more Vitamin C than the average non-smoker.
Vitamin C also helps your body absorb iron, which means more oxygen in your blood stream. This vitamin even counteracts atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, caused by smoke inhalation.
Smoking can cause bone loss associated with aging to happen at an accelerated rate. It’s common knowledge that calcium works to prevent bone loss, but did you know Vitamin C improves your ability to absorb and use calcium?
Good sources of Vitamin C include citrus fruit, broccoli, strawberries and cabbage.
Folic acid is another important vitamin compound, especially for smokers. This is a B-complex vitamin, and is crucial for lung health. Studies have shown that increasing folic acid intake can reduce symptoms of bronchitis and other lung-related maladies.
Get your folic acid via orange juice or fortified cereal.
Smoking also depletes the body’s Vitamin E supply. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that offers protection from dangerous free radicals and can help the body rebuild.
In fact, research even indicates that Vitamin E can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. Sources of natural Vitamin E include oils, nuts, seeds, liver, and clams.
In addition to eating a well-balanced diet, many doctors and rehabilitation specialists recommend that smokers and ex-smokers take a good multivitamin supplement to help the body recover from the devastating effects of smoking.