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Lighting Up Lowers Vitamin B-6 Levels

Smokers lag behind nonsmoking peers, study finds

MONDAY, April 14, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Too few people get enough vitamin B-6 and smokers are even more likely to have low levels of the vitamin, which is believed to offer protection against the DNA damage that can lead to cancers.

Washington State University researchers presented those findings April 14 at the Experimental Biology meeting in San Diego.

The study included six smokers and six nonsmokers. During the first 28 days, they were given carefully controlled diets that contained only marginal amounts of vitamin B-6. At the end of that time, all the study participants had lower levels of vitamin B-6 and higher numbers of DNA strand breaks.

During the second month, all the study participants ate a carefully controlled diet that included 1.4 milligrams of vitamin B-6. Some of that came from food and some from supplements. In the third month, the vitamin B-6 intake was increased to 2.2 milligrams a day.

For the final month, the study participants were allowed to eat whatever they wanted. However, they had to take 10.3 milligrams of vitamin B-6 supplement each day. That's more than seven times the recommended daily allowance.

The study found that as the amount of vitamin B-6 in the diet and bodies increased, the number of DNA strand breaks decreased. That pattern was seen as early as the first month of vitamin B-6 supplementation.

While the smokers' levels of vitamin B-6 did increase, they never matched the vitamin B-6 levels in the nonsmokers.

Foods high in vitamin B-6 include cereals, beef, chicken, fish, legumes, soy products and bananas.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about vitamin B-6.

SOURCE: Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, news release, April 14, 2003
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