To test the effect of a 21-day supplementation with moderate doses of antioxidant nutrients on biochemical indicators of vitamin, carotenoid and trace element levels in alcohol-dependent patients during a program of alcohol rehabilitation.
A randomized double-blind trial was performed comparing two groups receiving daily either a combination of micronutrients (beta-carotene: 6 mg, vitamin C: 120 mg, vitamin E: 30 mg, zinc: 20 mg, selenium: 100 micro g) or a placebo.
106 alcohol-dependent patients 20 to 60 years of age without severe liver disease, hospitalized for a 21-day rehabilitation program. Measure of Outcome: Vitamin C, retinol, alpha-tocopherol, zeaxanthin/lutein, beta-cryptoxanthin, lycopene, alpha- and beta-carotene, zinc and selenium were measured in serum, initially and after supplementation.
(1) In the placebo group, after 21 days of rehabilitation, serum concentrations of vitamin C and all five carotenoids significantly increased, whereas retinol and alpha-tocopherol concentrations decreased; zinc and selenium levels were unaffected. (2) At the end of the hospital stay, serum indicators were significantly improved in the supplement group as compared to the placebo group for vitamin C, alpha-tocopherol, beta-carotene, zinc and selenium; conversely, lycopene changes were higher in the placebo group than in supplement group. (3) Of the serum antioxidants measured at entrance, only vitamin C was significantly depleted in heavy smokers, and, after the supplementation period, vitamin C was efficiently repleted in this later group.
Our results indicate that a short-term supplementation with physiological doses of antioxidant vitamins, carotenoids and trace elements during alcohol rehabilitation clearly improves micronutrient status indicators. Heavy smokers in particular seem to respond to vitamin C supplementation.