Smoking Depletes These Nutrients

In a recent article, “Why You Should Quit Smoking,” we reviewed the negative consequences of smoking and the timeline of benefits that someone will receive from quitting smoking. As discussed, smoking cigarettes and tobacco dramatically increase risks of acute and chronic diseases and ailments across the board. However, a lesser-known fact is smoking also depletes various specific macro- and micronutrients in the body.

In this article, we will review the nutrients and vitamins that smoking depletes from the body.


One of the most damaging aspects of smoking is that it increases the number of free radicals in the body, which causes oxidative stress. Inevitably, the body’s levels of antioxidants will decrease as they struggle to fight oxidative stress. One of the most noticeable decreases is the antioxidant called beta-carotene, as noted by several studies [1] [2]. People can increase the level of antioxidants in their body, through an antioxidant-rich diet or supplementation.

However, people who are currently smoking should not take ample amount of beta-carotene supplementation because when beta-carotene directly interacts with cigarette smoke, a wide range of toxic, oxidation products are generated [3].  

Vitamin C

Studies have shown that people who smoke require a higher daily intake of vitamin C than people who do not smoke because of increased oxidative stress levels [4]. Further, smoking even decreases the body’s ability to absorb vitamin C, and smoking just one cigarette drinks the body of 25 mg of vitamin C [5]. There is also research that suggests vitamin C may help a smoker quit smoking and decrease nicotine cravings [6].

If you would like to read about the scientifically-backed benefits of vitamin C, check out “Benefits of Vitamin C, Antioxidant, Heart Disease, Blood Pressure” and “Additional Benefits of Vitamin C, Memory Support, Iron Absorption, Gout Prevention, Immune Function.”

Vitamin E

Studies have shown that smoking depletes vitamin E levels in the body [1] [7]. In a 2004 study, researchers found that the vitamin E levels of smokers were decreased up to 40% when compared to the control group of non-smokers [7]. Vitamin E is also one of nature’s most robust antioxidant, so the compound plays a role in neutralizing free radicals and oxidative stress brought on by smoking.

If you would like to read about the scientifically-backed benefits of vitamin E, check out “Benefits of Vitamin E; What Makes Healthmasters' Vitamin E Different?

Trace Elements: Copper, Selenium, Zinc

In a 2004 study, researchers found that depression of trace elements in blood was prevalent in people who smoke, with the depression becoming more pronounced with more smoking [7]. Of these trace elements, the researchers tested levels of copper, selenium, and zinc. Copper levels, however, were increased. Moreover, another study found that smoking resulted in decreased levels of selenium [1].


Studies have shown that smoking depletes the body of various B vitamins.

In 2003, researchers examined the relationship of tobacco smoking with blood levels of vitamin B9 and found “that there were low serum folic acid concentrations in smokers compared with non-smokers” [8]. The researchers also noted that this depletion “might contribute to the development of vascular and cardiovascular diseases” [8].

Additionally, a 2015 study investigated the same relationship but with additional B vitamins. The researchers found that on average smokers has decreased levels of B9 (-11%), B2 (-9.9%), B6 (10.9%), and B12 (1.4%) [9]. Also, the study found that smokers had decreased levels of omega-3 fatty acids (15%), which are essential for optimal cardiovascular health. The review was also extensive (over 1,000 participants) and had a sizeable control group, so there was little room for error.

These B vitamins are essential for many bodily functions. For example, B9 is needed for cell growth, amino acid metabolism, the formation of red and white blood cells, and proper cell division. B2 helps convert food into energy and also acts as an antioxidant. B6 is involved in amino acid metabolism, red blood cell production, and the creation of neurotransmitters. B12 is vital for neurological function, DNA production, and red blood cell development [10].


In this article, we reviewed specific vitamins that may be depressed in people who smoke and people who have just quit smoking. Therefore, it is essential for someone who has just ceased smoking to either supplement their diet with these nutrients or ensure they are receiving adequate levels through their food intake.

If you have questions about any of our products, check out Healthmasters’ Basic Healthy Lifestyle Kit and call our office at 800.726.1834.