If you’re thinking of quitting smoking or helping a loved one, you may wonder if there are supplements to quit smoking. After all, supplements can affect your mood, cravings, sleep, and appetite. It stands to reason that some may help with the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal.
While we cannot cover all supplements that may be useful in smoking cessation, we can speak to the benefits of magnesium for smokers and especially for those looking to quit.
Specifically, we will answer key questions:
- Does smoking cause lower magnesium levels?
- Can taking a magnesium supplement help you quit smoking?
- Is there any research on the relationship between smoking and magnesium?
Magnesium is a critical mineral your body needs to function in a state of optimal health, but the majority of Canadians don’t get enough magnesium from diet alone. In addition, some foods, drinks, lifestyle factors, or prescriptions can actually deplete the magnesium in your body.
There is some research that indicates that smoking tobacco can affect your magnesium levels because it changes the way your body absorbs nutrients. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies — including low magnesium — can cause significant health problems if left unaddressed.
If you are a smoker and your serum magnesium levels are low (that’s the amount of magnesium in your blood) or if you are experiencing the symptoms of low magnesium, you may benefit from taking a high-quality, easily-absorbable magnesium supplement.
This article discusses why smokers may need magnesium, whether taking a magnesium supplement can help you ease off cigarettes, and how you can develop a plan to quit smoking.
What Is Magnesium?
Magnesium is a vital nutrient that enables hundreds of processes in the body, including temperature regulation, cellular regeneration, and metabolism. Every cell in your body requires magnesium if you are going to maintain a state of optimal health.
Nuts, seeds, beans, some fish, and whole grains are all good dietary sources of magnesium.
Magnesium supplements are often prescribed for digestive issues like heartburn and constipation, and doctors often recommend additional magnesium if patients take certain medications like proton pump inhibitors that affect serum levels.
Why Smokers Need More Magnesium
Some experts say smokers tend to eat a less healthy diet than non-smokers, which can lead to nutritional deficiencies.
In 2017, researchers looked at the food diaries of smokers and non-smokers over the course of three days, and the results showed that smokers did have lower intakes of calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin B. Non-smokers also failed to consume daily recommended amounts of key nutrients, but smokers’ intake was lower than non-smokers.
Smoking can put a dent in your appetite — in fact, some people even rely on smoking as a way to maintain their weight – but smoking regularly can also directly reduce your absorption of magnesium.
Smoking weakens the muscle between the stomach and esophagus, and can also affect blood flow to the stomach lining that helps with protection and healing against acid. This digestive damage can make it harder to absorb magnesium and other nutrients.
Nicotine can also damage the kidneys, which are responsible for regulating the excretion and reabsorption of electrolytes in your system. Those electrolytes include magnesium. If your kidneys can’t properly excrete electrolytes, it can lead to a build-up of waste products in your blood.
And the bad news doesn’t end there. The more you smoke, the worse your magnesium deficiency might become. Research published in the IOSR Journal Of Pharmacy looked at both magnesium and iron levels in the blood of smokers and found that magnesium was not only significantly lower in smokers, but it decreased even further when people smoked more than 15 cigarettes a day.
Symptoms of Low Magnesium
If you have low serum magnesium levels, you could experience the following symptoms:
- Brain fog or trouble concentrating
- Lethargy or fatigue
- Impaired memory or thinking
- Headaches or migraines
- Muscle cramps
- Numbness or tingling in your limbs
- Insomnia or sleep disturbances
- Anger, irritability, or aggression
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
Additionally, a magnesium deficiency could contribute to medical conditions such as:
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Mental health issues
- Kidney stones
- Heart disease
- Heart palpitations
- Atrial fibrillation
- Congestive heart failure
- Adrenal fatigue
German researchers published an article in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition about the common misdiagnosis of magnesium deficiency.
How Magnesium Affects Smoking Addiction
A study in the Magnesium Research journal found that patients that received magnesium supplementation showed a decrease in nicotine dependence.
The study says:
“We followed the magnesium effect (Magne B(6)R, Sanofi-Synthelabo) with internal administration in 53 adult neurotic smoking patients (more than 10 cigarettes/day) of both genders admitted into psychiatric hospital. The nicotine dependence was assessed by the Fagerstrom test, initially and after 28 days of magnesium intake. Plasmatic magnesium level was determined before any therapy and at 28 days…Our data show that patients that received magnesium therapy showed a significant decrease in the number of cigarettes smoked and Fagerstrom test after 4 weeks. In the group of smokers who did not receive magnesium, the Fagerstrom score did not change significantly…The results suggest that this cation might be a useful adjuvant in treatment of nicotine pharmacodependence.”
Although more study is needed, it may be helpful for you to take a high-quality magnesium supplement if you are trying to quit smoking — particularly if you believe you may be magnesium deficient.
Why Is It So Hard to Quit Smoking?
Cigarette smoke is a blend of toxic cancer-causing chemicals that do your body harm in a variety of ways — but because nicotine is highly addictive, quitting smoking can be difficult.
How many Canadians smoke? In 2019, 14.8% of Canadians aged 12 and older (approximately 4.7 million people) smoked cigarettes either daily or occasionally. Every year, of the more than 230,000 deaths that occur in Canada, around 17% of those deaths were related to smoking. Every day, 100 Canadians die from a smoking-related illness.
Nicotine is highly addictive because it is easily absorbed into the bloodstream from the lungs, and the blood quickly spreads the chemical throughout the body. In small amounts, nicotine can cause pleasant feelings that make the user want to smoke more.
Nicotine floods the brain’s reward circuits and provides a tiny adrenaline rush to the smoker — but the effects wear off quickly, often leaving the user edgy and irritable. Those unpleasant feelings grow over time, leading the user to light up another cigarette later in the day.
As the cycle continues, withdrawal symptoms get worse. The user’s body adapts to nicotine, meaning they will need more tobacco to achieve the same adrenaline rush.
People who smoke often become dependent on nicotine, suffering physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms if they stop smoking. Side effects of withdrawal include nervousness, headaches, trouble sleeping, and irritability.
Many people who smoke want to quit, but find it very challenging to do so. A study in the BMJ Open Journal suggests that a current smoker tries to quit 30 times or more before they successfully quit smoking for more than a year.
The news isn’t all bad, however. If you are a smoker and you wish you quit, there are many things you can do to help make it easier.
Magnesium Supplements to Quit Smoking and Treat Withdrawal Symptoms
Since most North Americans are low in magnesium, and smokers appear to be even more frequently deficient, it makes sense to consider magnesium supplements to quit smoking.
Consider adding a high-quality magnesium supplement to your diet to raise your blood serum levels and make it easier to quit.
An easily-absorbable magnesium supplement like Natural Calm® can help you kick your smoking habit and meet your daily dietary needs for this critical macronutrient.
Natural Calm® is a magnesium citrate powder that turns into a delicious fizzy beverage when you mix it with liquid. Natural Calm® also helps you relax and sleep better, which can help you deal with withdrawal symptoms as you’re trying to quit.
Other Natural Aids for Quitting Smoking
Try Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) — a form of counselling that helps people change unhealthy habits — can also be helpful.
In a 2008 study, 304 adult smokers received 20 weeks of CBT focused on helping them avoid smoking. The results suggested that CBT may support long-term smoking cessation.
Another study found that combining CBT with behavioural activation (an approach known as SCBSCT-BA) can also help boost abstinence, manage mood changes that stem from withdrawal, and reduce the risk of relapse.
Track habits with an app
Tracking your habits, including when you tend to smoke and when you get nicotine cravings, can help you replace old behaviours with healthier habits. There are a number of online and mobile phone apps that can track your nicotine consumption and help you figure out your triggers, so you can find new ways to substitute healthier behaviours when you get cravings.
I’m Ready to Make a Plan to Quit Smoking, How Do I Get Started?
Ready to quit smoking? Follow these steps to get started:
1. Speak with your doctor. Find out if you have any underlying health issues that may impact your attempts to quit. Your doctor might also recommend medications or smoking cessation aids like patches or gum that can help you overcome your addiction to cigarettes.
2. Figure out which tactics to use. We’ve outlined a number of helpful methods that can help, including taking magnesium to quit smoking. Write down the tactics you’ll use, including advice from your doctor, so you have a clear plan in place. If you want to include Natural Calm® in your plan, check out our shop to browse our magnesium powders and gummies.
3. Get accountability. Tell your close friends and family that you are going to quit smoking, so they can support you and keep you accountable for your goals. The more support you receive, the easier it will be to quit!
Note: This content is for informational use only, and is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice or professional diagnosis.