Plasma carotenoid and alpha-tocopherol concentrations in the elderly: Findings from the nun study

M. Gross, D. Snowdon

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Several studies suggest that age may be a significant determinant of plasma concentrations of alpha-tocopherpl and carotenoids, such as betacarotene. Such a relationship may be a significant factor in the etiology of several degenerative diseases. Thus, the present study was undertaken to characterize plasma concentrations of alpha-tocopheroi, beta-carotene and several other carotenoids in a population of elderly women, and to evaluate the relationship between age and plasma antioxidant concentrations. The study was done with 94 participants from the Nun Study, a longitudinal study of aging and Alzheimers disease. These 77 to 99 year old women lived in the same convent and ate food from a common kitchen. The population mean and standard deviation of several plasma carotenoids and alpha-tocopherol concentrations (Hg/dl) were as follows: lycopene, 15.0+/10.0; beta-carotene, 30.0+/-19.7; alpha-carotene, 15.0 +/- 9.6; zeaxanthin and lutein combined, 22.0+/- 7.4; beta-cryploxanthin and alpha-tocopherol, 980 +/- 310. The concentrations of all analy tes, except lycopene, were equal to or higher than those reported for middle-aged American populations. Average plasma concentrations of the antioxidants were similar across age groups within the population. Thus, age may be a relatively minor determinant of plasma carotenoid and alpha-tocopherol concentrations. Moreover, these results suggest that dietary intake alone can maintain the plasma concentrations of most carotenoids and alphatocopherol in populations of elderly women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)A240
JournalFASEB Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 1 1996

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