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Clin Chim Acta. 2007 Feb;377(1-2):14-38. Epub 2006 Sep 1.

Monitoring micronutrients in cigarette smokers.

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Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta, GA 30341, USA.


Smoking is associated with oxidative stress and increased risks of many chronic diseases that both shorten life and impair its quality. Low concentrations of several micronutrients, especially the antioxidants vitamin C and beta-carotene, are also associated with smoking, and there has been much interest in determining whether deficiencies in micronutrients are involved etiologically in smoking-related diseases. The objective of this review was to bring together reports on dietary intakes, biochemical indicators of micronutrient status, and results of some intervention studies on micronutrients where authors had compared outcomes in smokers and non-smokers. The micronutrients discussed are vitamins A, E, and C; the carotenoids; some of the B-vitamin group; and the minerals selenium, zinc, copper, and iron. The data were then examined to determine whether effects on the biochemical markers of micronutrient status were due to differences in dietary intakes between smokers and non-smokers or to the consequences of inflammatory changes caused by the oxidative stress of smoking. It was concluded that although smoking is associated with reduced dietary intake of vitamin C and carotenoid-containing foods, inflammatory changes increase turnover of these micronutrients so that blood concentrations are still lower in smokers than non-smokers even when there is control for dietary differences. In the case of vitamin E, there is some evidence for increased turnover of this nutrient in smokers, but this has little to no influence on blood concentrations, and there are no differences in dietary intake of vitamin E between smokers and non-smokers. Serum concentrations of vitamin A, folate, and vitamin B12 and B6 markers do not appear to be influenced by smoking, although there is some influence of dietary intake on concentrations of these nutrients in the body. In the case of the minerals examined, the main effects on biochemical markers of mineral status were attributed to inflammation and were therefore greater in heavy or long-term smokers. Serum concentrations of selenium and erythrocyte GPx activity were lower in smokers. Erythrocyte CuZn-SOD activity and serum ceruloplasmin concentrations were elevated, while serum zinc concentrations were depressed only in heavy smokers. Lastly, smoking appears to affect iron homeostasis mainly by changing hemoglobin concentrations, which were in general increased. Serum iron, TfR, and ferritin were mostly unaffected by smoking, except in pregnancy where there is evidence of increased erythropoiesis causing lower saturation of plasma transferrin and some evidence of lowering of iron stores.

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