smoking damages the skin, heart and blood vessels through the formation of free
radicals. Antioxidants taken as supplements may help to negate the effects of
the free radicals and protect the body against their damaging effects.
A study was conducted to assess the effect
of supplementation with over-the-counter antioxidants, vitamins and omega-3
fatty acids on serum metabolites, as well as on various skin parameters.
The study was
conducted on 58 healthy female volunteers between 50 and 70 years of age, who
were not exposed to excessive sunlight one month prior to the study. The
volunteers were divided into two groups - 15 current smokers and 22 current
nonsmokers. Some individuals from both groups dropped out before the end of the
were given a nutritional supplement twice daily that contained antioxidants
like catechins, carotenoids, lycopene, vitamin C, E and A, other vitamins and
Blood tests were
carried out at the end of 12 weeks. High quality digital photographs of the
face were taken, which were later analyzed for wrinkles, visible spots, UV
spots, and pores using particular software. The barrier function of the skin
was analyzed using transepidermal water loss meter, and the skin elasticity
using a cutometer.
The most important change noted at 12 weeks
was a significant decrease in 11 out of 16 long-chain fatty acid levels in the
blood of smokers. This change was not noted in the nonsmoker group. The
level of the long-chain fatty acids, stearidonate, which was a part of the
supplement, was increased in both groups.
The study also found that levels of
vitamins like alpha-tocopherol and pyridoxate were significantly increased in
nonsmokers at the end of 12 weeks but not in smokers. This may indicate
that smokers use up more of the vitamins, and therefore require
supplementation. Bilirubin levels were increased in nonsmokers but not in
smokers. The relevance of this finding is not known.
was done following 12 weeks of nutritional supplementation. Smokers showed a
decrease in fine wrinkles, increase in glow and a decrease in skin hydration.
However, they showed a worsening of deep-wrinkled appearance. Nonsmokers showed
a decrease in deep wrinkling. The beneficial skin changes however were not
statistically significant. It is possible that some of the skin changes may
have been due to changes in the long-chain fatty acid levels.
effects like headache, body ache, loose stools, belching and stomach upset were
observed in some of the participants.
The study concluded that oral nutritional
supplementation produces different effects in smokers and nonsmokers.
However, the study was too short and conducted on too few participants. Further
large scale studies are required to establish the benefits of the nutritional
supplements in smokers.
C Spitale et al. Differential effects of dietary supplements on metabolomic
profile of smokers versus non-smokers. Genome Medicine 2012, 4:14 doi:10.1186/PREACCEPT-8646921766193071.