Soundbite From Our Scientists: Micronutrients for Smoking Cessation

This video features Jared from the Hardy Nutritionals science team with some exciting news!

Researchers at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, recently published the results of a double-blind study showing the effectiveness of Daily Essential Nutrients in helping individuals reduce or stop smoking cigarettes. The study was published in a medical journal titled: Nicotine & Tobacco Research.


Interestingly, the researchers did not initially intend to study smoking. But while they were studying the effects of micronutrients on ADHD, they observed that participants who smoked tobacco or cannabis smoked less over time (or even quit entirely) while taking micronutrients. This caught their attention, so they planned this double-blind smoking study, “the first known [randomized controlled trial] to investigate the use of micronutrients to support smoking cessation.”

Baseline & randomization

Before the study began, the study participants were smoking more than a dozen cigarettes per day on average and most had tried unsuccessfully to quit multiple times. Participants were randomly assigned to take either Daily Essential Nutrients or identical-looking PLC. Because the study was “doubly blind” neither the participants nor the researchers knew who was assigned to take the MCN or the PLC until the end of the study.

Pre-quit period

Researchers asked participants to take the capsules they were given for 4 weeks before attempting to quit smoking and track the number of cigarettes they smoked.

Quit attempts & success

About the same percentage of participants in the MCN and PLC groups attempted to quit smoking. There was no significant difference between the MCN and PLC groups in the number of participants who were successful in quitting for 3 days, but by 4 weeks and 8 weeks after the ‘quit day’, only about 50% of the participants who were taking PLC continued without smoking, while more than 80% of those taking Daily Essential Nutrients continued to go without smoking.

Number of cigarettes smoked

Study participants taking Daily Essential Nutrients also smoked fewer cigarettes overall compared to those taking the sham placebo pills - even in the time before their quit day!

Researchers concluded that “micronutrients reduced harm through reduction in number of cigarettes smoked relative to placebo”.

Comparable to medical treatments, but no side effects!

All studies have their limitations.  This study was relatively small for a stop-smoking study (including only about 100 people) and there was a high dropout rate -- similar to other stop-smoking studies, but in spite of these problems, the results were still significant! In fact, researchers concluded that “micronutrients are comparable to other smoking cessation treatments but with fewer side effects.”

These “other smoking cessation treatments” include prescription medications approved for smoking cessation, and nicotine replacement therapy in the form of nicotine patches, gums, lozenges, sprays, or inhalers. In contrast to these treatments, the MCN treatment was side-effect free; researchers reported no differences in side effects between those taking Daily Essential Nutrients and those taking PLC. And about the same percentage of participants dropped out of the study whether they were taking MCN or PLC.

In conclusion, the researchers wrote, “This novel RCT tentatively supports the use of micronutrients as a treatment to assist smoking cessation and reduce cigarette consumption, especially in the acute stage of withdrawal.”

How do micronutrients work?

So how might the micronutrients work to help individuals quit smoking? The researchers gave a few possibilities:

  1. Micronutrients alleviate stress. “There is extensive evidence that micronutrients alleviate stress. Given that tobacco smoking is often used to cope with stress, taking micronutrients may moderate the stress of withdrawal and increase the chance of a successful quit attempt.”
  2. Micronutrients are critical for optimal brain function. “Overall, any insufficiency in the neural availability of critical enzymes and cofactors [which include many essential vitamins and minerals]...may be particularly significant when coping with stress and withdrawal symptoms during quitting and afterwards.”
  3. Micronutrients have anti-inflammatory effects. “The anti-inflammatory effects of micronutrients may also contribute to optimizing brain metabolism during and after quitting.”

In summary, it’s clear from this and other smoking cessation studies that quitting smoking is very difficult, but for those who persist and take Daily Essential Nutrients consistently, there is new hope to reduce the number of cigarettes smoked and to stop smoking - even without side effects!