Nutrient Deficiencies Common in Smokers

Some habits are incredibly tough to kick, despite knowledge that they can be harmful to your health.  How many smokers do you know that strive to be healthy in many other aspects of their lives, and wish they could quit?  Or maybe you are a smoker struggling to break the habit?  This article discusses the nutritional aspects of smoking, and how deficiencies are important to be aware of if you or someone you know smokes.

Smoking tobacco cigarettes interferes with the absorption and retention of a number of important vitamins and minerals.  

                                                   photo credit: Pensiero via photopin cc


The bodies of smokers have a decreased ability to absorb calcium and vitamin D.  That difficulty, combined with decreased blood circulation as another side effect of smoking, leads to accelerated bone loss and an increased risk of osteoporosis and bone fracture as a result.


Smoking not only interferes with absorption of vitamin C, but also increases the body’s need for vitamin C by 30%.  Vitamin C, a water-soluble vitamin, is a very common deficiency in smokers due to the combination of decreased absorption and increased use/need for it.


With vitamin C levels at risk, Iron absorption is also affected, as it relies on vitamin C to complete its own absorption processes.  Vitamin C deficiency often can lead to residual iron deficiency or “vitamin deficiency anemia”.  It is important for smokers to be tested for iron deficiency regularly by their healthcare providers, and to pay attention to symptoms such as muscle weakness/soreness, fatigue, irritability and confusion because they could be identifying iron deficiency.


Some studies show vitamin A deficiency in smokers.  It is important to make sure health care providers monitor smokers for vitamin A levels as well, due to a deficiency resulting in eyesight decline and other serious eye conditions.  Vitamin A deficiency is also associated with decreased respiratory function, which is already a risk smokers have to deal with due to lung function issues from the toxins in tobacco smoke.

If you or someone you care about is a smoker, continue to stay healthy in as many other aspects of life as possible, and be sure to monitor vitamin and mineral levels to minimize the additional health risks caused by common deficiencies.  See these additional articles about common deficiencies for more information  Who is at Risk for Low Vitamin D Levels? and  Are you Vitamin B Deficient?