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Eur J Clin Nutr. 2009 Feb;63(2):246-52. Epub 2007 Sep 26.

Acute autonomic effects of vitamins and fats in male smokers.

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  • 11Nutrition and Health, Unilever Food and Health Research Institute, Vlaardingen, The Netherlands. ciwright26@hotmail.com



Vitamins can help improve cardiovascular control. In contrast, smoking works in the opposite fashion, reducing the baroreflex control of heart rate (HR) possibly via oxidative stress. High-fat challenges also impair cardiovascular regulation. Whether vitamins have acute beneficial effects on the baroreflex control of HR in smokers is unclear.


A randomized, placebo-controlled crossover study in 30 male smokers (34.2+/-6.9 years). Interventions were: (1) moderate (vitamin C (300 mg) and E (75 IU) and folic acid (1 mg)); (2) high doses of vitamins (vitamin C (2 g) and E (800 IU), and folic acid (5 mg)); or, (3) placebo. Vitamins were ingested with cream (a high-fat challenge) or milk (low-fat control). Four hours later, blood was withdrawn and radial pulse wave forms recorded via tonometry. Spontaneous beat-to-beat variations in HR and systolic blood pressure (SBP) were analysed by spectral analysis techniques and sympathovagal control of HR and baroreflex sensitivity (BRS) were assessed.


High doses of vitamins increased plasma vitamin C, E and folic acid levels (P<0.05) with no change in SBP, HR or BRS (P>0.05, analysis of variance). Plasma vitamin levels did not correlate with any cardiovascular parameters. Moderate vitamins increased the vagal control of HR (+23%; P<0.05) and cream led to small increases (P<0.05) in SBP (+2 mm Hg) and HR (+2 beats min(-1)) with no change in BRS.


In male smokers, circulating antioxidants had no effect on BRS and minor effects on the cardiovascular system were seen following acute fat and vitamin ingestion.

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