Vitamin B-3 (Niacin or Niacinamide)
I do believe that Vitamin B-3 (Niacin or Niacinamide) is one of the most important supplements you can take when it comes to treating addiction.
Nicotine and niacin occupy the same receptors in the brain, which is why it is so helpful in reducing nicotine cravings.
In 1960, Bill W., the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, was introduced to the benefits of B-3 by Dr. Abram Hofer who had lots of success treating alcohol addiction, depression, high cholesterol and schizophrenia with vitamin B-3.
Unsurprisingly, Bill W. was very interested in trying it and started to take 3,000 mg of vitamin B3 per day.
Within a few weeks, the depression and fatigue that troubled Bill for years was gone. Bill then gave 30 of his friends in Alcoholics Anonymous the same dosage and within months, he found vitamin B3 was very helpful for 70% of the people he gave it to.
Regrettably, many of his appointed 'medical experts' did not agree with his enthusiasm over a vitamin therapy to treat alcoholism, so he was censured by AA for promoting vitamin B-3 or niacin therapy on official AA letterhead. The Scientologists also recommend niacin to all new recruits to help detox and rid the body of addictive patterns.
Dosage: Vitamin B-3 - Niacinamide (the non-flushing form of niacin) 500 mg to 1000 mg with breakfast and lunch. You can take Niacin (the flushing form of Vitamin B-3) 50 mg with breakfast and lunch, however most people experience a red skin flushing that tingles for about 20 to 30 minutes after.
B Complex Vitamins
B vitamins help to calm and regulate the nervous system while decreasing fatigue and stress. B vitamins can also help relieve the anxiety and insomnia that commonly occur when you quit smoking.
B Vitamins are shown to lower the amino acid homocysteine, which increases brain shrinkage and may be a cause of developing Alzheimer’s. It even seems that B vitamins can decrease brain shrinkage by up to 53%, and when combined with Omega-3’s show a 70% decrease in the rate of brain shrinkage. And we all know that shrinkage isn’t good...
Your body uses more B vitamins when you are under stress. Smoking triggers the release of stress hormones in the body, while also depleting the body of B vitamins at the same time, so quitting smoking means an increased need for all the B vitamins. Ideally start taking B vitamins at least one week before you plan to quit.
Each B vitamin has distinct benefits for the body and mind. I have listed below each B vitamin individually with its functions that are most relevant for quitting smoking.
I highly recommend picking one or more of the individual B vitamins that you feel would benefit you the most, but always take a B-complex as well, because they work in conjunction with each other. Also, studies have shown that any long-term use of one B vitamin can cause a deficiency in another. So, I repeat: always take a B-Complex.
Vitamin B-1 (Thiamine): Helps to regulate the nervous system, heart and stabilize mood. Thiamine is helpful for adrenal fatigue, increasing focus, reducing stress, increasing energy and maintaining a positive attitude. A lack of B-1 can cause depression, fatigue, difficulty concentrating and irritability.
Vitamin B-2 (Riboflavin): Vital for the production of healthy red blood cells which transport oxygen throughout the body. More oxygen reaching the brain means a greater capacity to stay alert. It helps prevent anemia, high blood pressure, migraines and is the vitamin that causes your urine to turn bright yellow.
Vitamin B-3 (Niacin or Niacinamide (non-flushing niacin): Also called nicotinic acid, B-3 is chemically similar to nicotine and fills the nicotine receptors in your brain relieving nicotine cravings. It also helps to dilate blood vessels, improve circulation and lower cholesterol.
Vitamin B-3 also boosts the neurotransmitter GABA, which relieves anxiety and helps you to relax. It is excellent for alcohol cravings as well. I recommend taking niacinamide which is the form of niacin that doesn’t cause the red skin or flushing that niacin causes unless you have high cholesterol, in which case, I recommend taking niacin since it is so effective at lowering cholesterol.
Vitamin B-5 (Pantothenic Acid): Helps to lower the negative effects of stress and is vital for proper adrenal function. B-5 is helpful for adrenal fatigue and also necessary for a healthy metabolism.
Vitamin B-6 (Pyridoxine): Helps regulate the nervous system and produce the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. B-6 is important for the control of anxiety, depression, fatigue, irritability and mood swings. B-6 helps to process fats and proteins and also helps to control cravings and weight gain that often arise when you stop smoking.
Vitamin B-7 (Biotin): Essential for the breaking down of nutritional carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Helps to stabilize blood sugar levels, strengthen hair and nails, as well as helping the body get rid of toxins.
Vitamin B-9 (Folic Acid): Folic Acid is essential for proper functioning of the nervous system and reducing the chances of birth defects. Folic acid supplements have been used to help treat depression and enhance antidepressant drugs.
Studies show that people who are lacking in folic acid do not respond as well to antidepressants, and it also plays a part in mood regulation. It lowers the effects of nicotine on the lungs and protects from cell damage which may contribute to getting cancer.
B-12 (Cobalmin): Vital for sustaining energy levels in the body. B-12 also helps to decrease cellular damage. It helps maintain a healthy digestive system. B-12 also protects against heart disease by decreasing and improving unhealthy cholesterol levels, protecting against high blood pressure and strokes.
It’s essential for healthy hair, skin, and nails. It helps in cell generation and the renewal of the skin. B-12 helps protect against cancers including breast, colon, lung, and prostate cancer. Heavy smokers, drinkers, and vegetarians tend to be deficient in B-12.
Choline: This crucial nutrient is used in our liver to avoid the build-up of fat, but its most important role is in supporting your brain. Choline is a precursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine which helps with focus, memory and mental clarity.
Acetylcholine is released when you have a cigarette, so low acetylcholine is part of why you tend to feel foggy headed after quitting smoking. Eggs are an excellent source of choline.
Choline also reduces the stress hormone cortisol, which is raised by smoking. Elevated cortisol actually prunes the neurons of your brain’s memory center, which is part of why our memory tends to be worse when we are stressed.
Inositol: Helps with the metabolism of fats and cholesterol. Inositol is one of my favorite supplements for people who suffer from anxiety since it raises GABA levels which has a relaxing effect.
It has also been shown to be beneficial for treating anxiety, depression, insomnia and panic disorders. Inositol has also been found to reverse cell damage in the airways of the lungs, turning precancerous cells back to healthy ones.
Dosage: B-50 Complex - 1 with breakfast and 1 with lunch, combined with any of the individual B Vitamins you feel would be beneficial for you personally.
Read my post on Vitamin C and Vitamin D for more info on helping your body to get back into balance and quit for good.