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J Am Coll Nutr. 1999 Apr;18(2):166-70.

The effect of ascorbic acid supplementation on the blood lead levels of smokers.

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Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, 77555-0587, USA.



The study subjects were 75 adult men (20 to 30 years of age), who smoked one pack of cigarettes per day (minimum) and had no clinical signs of ascorbic acid deficiency or lead toxicity. None had a history of industrial exposure to lead, and the blood-lead levels were anticipated to be below 1.45 micromol/L, the minimum blood level associated with toxicity symptoms.


The men were randomly assigned to three study groups of 25, and each group was provided a four-week supply of one level of daily ascorbic acid supplements (placebo, 200 mg or 1000 mg of ascorbic acid). We measured baseline and weekly serum and urine ascorbic-acid levels as well as blood and urine lead levels. The weekly group means and variations of the measured data were statistically compared by means of ANOVA and Pearson's correlation.


The serum ascorbic-acid levels of the groups receiving ascorbic acid increased significantly after one week (p< or =.001). There was no effect of placebo or 200 mg ascorbic-acid supplementation on the blood or urine lead levels. However, there was a 81% decrease in blood-lead levels in the 1000 mg ascorbic acid group after one week of supplementation (p< or =.001).


Daily supplementation with 1000 mg of ascorbic acid results in a significant decrease of blood-lead levels associated with the general population. Ascorbic acid supplementation may provide an economical and convenient method of reducing blood-lead levels, possibly by reducing the intestinal absorption of lead.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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