Nutrition and Smoking

Did you make a New Year Resolution to stop smoking?  How is it going?  If you need more motivation to protect your health by stopping smoking, or help protecting your health while you continue smoking, this article is for you.


Apart from the well-publicised illnesses that smoking can cause, smoking is believed to reduce our ability to absorb some of the vitamins and minerals in our foods.  These nutrients have important roles to play in helping our bodies to grow, repair and function, and they can also impact other nutrients.  For example vitamin C helps us to absorb iron, and vitamin D helps us to absorb calcium.  Missing out on one nutrient could mean missing out on at least one other.


While stopping smoking will always be the best option for your health, if you choose to continue there are foods that you can include in your diet, or increase your intake of, to help support your nutritional health.


The main vitamins and minerals affected by smoking are shown below with information about their roles and importance.  In addition sources of these nutrients are included to help you increase your intake.


Important for: Bone health, heart regulation, and conduction of nerve impulses.

Sources: Dairy, almonds, canned fish with bones, brewers’ yeast, watercress, parsley and fortified foods.

Vitamin A

Important for: Vision; bone growth; organ lining maintenance; cell development (including white blood cells); and regulation of the immune system.  Vitamin A is an antioxidant.

Sources: Liver (avoid if pregnant), egg yolks, oily fish, full-fat dairy products, carrots, squash, watercress, mangoes and fortified foods.

Vitamin C

Important for: Iron absorption, normal growth and development, and the immune system.  Vitamin C is an antioxidant.

Sources: Fruit and vegetables including peppers, citrus fruits, kiwis, strawberries and watercress.

Vitamin D

Important for: Calcium absorption, bone growth and remodelling, neuromuscular and immune functions, and insulin secretion.

Sources: Exposure to the sun (especially in summer), salmon, sardines, eggs and full-fat dairy.



Note:  If you have any concerns regarding your health it is recommended that you speak to your doctor.  It is also advisable to consult your doctor before taking any vitamin and mineral supplements as excesses may be harmful.

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