Every time you smoke a cigarette, the chemicals in the tobacco produce free radicals in your body. Those free radicals cause oxidative stress and weaken your defense system. The best defense against oxidative stress is antioxidant supplements. If you smoke, your diet might not have the right proportions or combinations of antioxidant supplements that can protect your cells from developing into cancer and heart disease.
Tobacco smoke is a toxin that produces free radicals in your body. Free radicals are unstable molecules that are missing a pair of electrons. Free radicals roam around freely in your body for a short time before other reactions occur. Oxidation reactions involve the loss or gain of electrons, which is a normal part of your cellular processes. Free radicals cause harmful oxidation reactions because they are trying to steal electrons from healthy molecules and cause damage. This is called oxidative stress or damage. Your living cells have special mechanisms to block or eliminate free radicals to prevent them from damaging or destroying your healthy cells and DNA. Cumulative damage in your cells caused by free radicals will trigger cancer and other life-threatening diseases.
The best way to get rid of those free radicals is through oxidative defense. Antioxidant supplements fight against free radicals to protect your cells and tissues from free radical damage. Your body produces some antioxidants to protect your cells and tissues from free radicals. Your antioxidant supplements must also come from food. Antioxidant supplements are always hunting and gathering free radicals before they steal electrons from your healthy molecules. If your body is not producing enough antioxidant supplements or you are not getting enough through your diet, your oxidative defense will be too weak to fight and destroy those free radicals.
The scientific community has extensively studied antioxidants in the blood of smokers and the amount of antioxidant supplements they are consuming in their diets. One common conclusion resonates in research studies published in the “International Journal of Epidemiology,” the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” and the “Singapore Medical Journal,” and that is smokers have a weak antioxidant defense system because their diets are particularly low in the antioxidant supplements vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene and phytochemicals.
If you are a smoker, consider yourself a candidate for all sorts of vitamin deficiencies in the body. In the normal scheme of things, we are all susceptible to aging and the wear and tear of our bodies through the natural process of oxidization. The irony is, we all need oxygen to live but it is through this interaction of oxygen that sets lose destructive compounds called “free radicals”. Most of us have heard of free radicals. They are highly reactive molecules which can attach themselves to cells and destroy them. Smoking contributes to an overload of these free radicals. The inhalation of smoke produces extremely high levels of free radicals. To counteract this negative effect, high dosages of antioxidant supplements are needed to prevent free radical damage.
These are the best antioxidant supplements for smokers. They can be obtained through food or as vitamin supplementation.
Vitamin C and E
Sulfur containing amino acids
Beta carotene is a naturally occurring pigment in plants. Even though it has often been lined to proVitamin A, most carotenoids do not contain Vitamin A. Taking large dosages of beta carotene can reduce damage in epithelial cells of the lungs and respiratory tract of smokers. Dietary beta carotene can be obtained by eating leafy green vegetables, yams, sweet potatoes, carrots, etc.
For healthy tissues, taking a palm oil carotene complex or one from algae can contribute greatly to a smoker’s healthy immune system. Smokers should take up to 10,000 IU of beta carotene for good health. Since it cannot be stored in body cells, taking a higher dosage would not be toxic.
VITAMIN C AND E
Vitamin C and E are the two major antioxidant supplements needed by the body. Vitamin C is water soluble, meaning you will find this vitamin in the body components made of water. Being water soluble, you cannot overdose, as any excess will be excreted in urine. When choosing Vitamin C, do not buy timed-release Vitamin C. There is only one place in the gastrointestinal tract where Vitamin C is absorbed, so if it is timed-release, it may not be deposited in the right place and be flushed out of the body.
Vitamin C comes in several forms. Ascorbic acid is the synthetic form and the cheapest. Real forms of Vitamin C can be obtained from berry extracts such as cherry or grape, the most expensive being Ester-C which is engineered to be gentle on the stomach. 500-1500 mg of Vitamin C should be taken by smokers. Through dietary sources; oranges, green peppers, potatoes with skin, etc. should be consumed.
Selenium is great for the immune system of a smoker. It affects the development and activity of white blood cells. White blood cells can kill tumors, so is good for cancer. Selenium helps the activity of antioxidant “glutathione peroxidase” to break down allergic reactions in asthmatics, so would be advantageous to smokers. A dose of 200 mcg or more would be sufficient for daily health.
This is another plant pigment found in fruits and flowers. Flavonoids protect against environmental stresses. For smokers, flavonoids help protect against the carcinogens produced by smoking. Eating lots of fruits and vegetables, including citrus fruits, berries, onions, parsley, legume, green tea, and red wine would give the desired amounts of flavonoids.
SULFUR-CONTAINING AMINO ACIDS
When proteins are broken down, they form amino acids. Two of these amino acids “methionine and cysteine” act as scavengers, scouring the body for free radicals and as the main line of defense for destructive compounds. These amino acids combine with toxic substances from smoking, eliminating them from the body. Obviously, high levels of these amino acids would benefit a smoker. Good dietary sources would be garlic, onions, fish, liver, eggs, nuts, and Brewer’s Yeast. For supplementation, a doctor would have to prescribe doses of methionine and cysteine because it would be difficult to find on drugstore shelves.
This is an antioxidant supplements which is most powerful in the body and which most people are not familiar with. People who take cholesterol pills should pay attention to antioxidant supplements such as Coenzyme Q10. It is the only one which can be manufactured in the body and which medications can deplete.
Since smokers are highly susceptible to high blood pressure and heart attacks, taking Coenzyme Q10 is crucial. The heart converts free fatty acids into energy. Any defects in this utilization of fats by the heart will lead to cellular damage, ultimately a heart attack. Coenzyme Q10 attacks and defends from the cellular level, unlike any other antioxidant supplements. It is most important in the metabolism of fat for energy, helping to prevent accumulation of fatty acids in the heart muscle.
For supplementation purposes, 100 mg of Coenzyme Q10 daily is sufficient for good health. It is an expensive antioxidant supplements so be sure to purchase gelatin capsules containing an orange colored powder to ensure it is the real thing.