It has been known for some time that cigarette smoking reduces blood levels of vitamin C, and it also appears to sap folate levels, but the data were less clear on vitamin E. Scientists at the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University have found that among people with similar diets, blood plasma levels of the nutrient dropped 13 per cent faster in smokers than in non-smokers. The controlled study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, also revealed an important interaction with vitamin C, showing for the first time how inadequate levels of this vitamin can cause further and faster depletion of vitamin E. In 2003, 34 per cent of Europe?s population were estimated to be smokers although major public health campaigns, as well as a ban on smoking in public places in some countries, could reduce this number. The habit kills more than 650,000 Europeans a year and costs EU states about ?100 billion annually. The US researchers believe that vitamin E is being depleted from smokers’ tissue concentrations in order to keep up its levels in the blood, leaving the tissues ? including those of the lungs ? particularly vulnerable to attack by toxins and free radicals. Smokers also need more vitamin C to help slow the decline of vitamin E, suggest the researchers. They believe that vitamin E often plays the first role in intervening against free radicals and preventing membranes from becoming oxidized ? but in the process, vitamin E itself can be made into a radical. If adequate vitamin C is present, it can help the vitamin E return to non-radical form. Vitamin E must be present before free radical damage occurs, however, and cannot be expected to repair all the damage when consumed later. Yet reduced intake of oils and fats is thought to have caused a decline in intake of the vitamin among many western populations

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Source: NutraIngredients