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Original Communication

Influence of Lifestyle on Vitamin Bioavailability

Published Online:

In this review the effects of lifestyle factors, especially alcohol consumption, on vitamin bioavailability are summarized and discussed. Alcohol effects are clearly dose-dependent. Excessive chronic alcohol intake is generally associated with vitamin deficiency (especially folate, thiamine, and vitamin B6) due to malnutrition, malabsorption, and ethanol toxicity. Effects of moderate alcohol use are mainly explained by a lower vitamin intake. In the case of vitamin A and beta-carotene, effects on post-absorptive (lipoprotein) metabolism have been demonstrated. In one diet-controlled crossover study, alcohol consumption resulted in an increase in the plasma vitamin B6 (PLP) content, especially after beer consumption (containing vitamin B6), but also after wine and spirit consumption (not containing vitamin B6). Smoking is also associated with a lower dietary vitamin intake. In the case of vitamin C, B12, folate, and beta-carotene, evidence has been presented for effects on postabsorptive metabolism, due to smoke-induced oxidative stress and/or vitamin inactivation. For vitamin E a direct effect of smoking on absorption has been demonstrated. There is no convincing evidence that low-fat diets negatively affect fat-soluble vitamin absorption, but cholesterol-lowering compounds (diets), or unabsorbable fat substitutes, may do so. Vitamin bioavailability may be compromised from certain vegetables (particularly raw), and/or from high-fiber foods, because of limited digestion and inefficient release of vitamins from the food matrix.