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Br J Nutr. 2001 Apr;85(4):499-507.

A European carotenoid database to assess carotenoid intakes and its use in a five-country comparative study.

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  • 1Northern Ireland Centre for Diet & Health, University of Ulster, Coleraine BT52 1SA, UK.


A food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) and carotenoid database with information on alpha- and beta-carotene, lutein, lycopene and beta-cryptoxanthin was prepared and used to compare the carotenoid intakes in five European countries: UK, Republic of Ireland, Spain, France and The Netherlands. Eighty, age- (25-45 years) and sex-matched volunteers were recruited in each of the five countries. A FFQ and carotenoid database was prepared of the most commonly consumed carotenoid rich foods in the participating countries and the information was used to calculate frequency and intake of carotenoid-rich foods. The median total carotenoid intake based on the sum of the five carotenoids, was significantly higher (P < 0.05) in France (16.1 mg/day) and lower in Spain (9.5 mg/day,) than the other countries, where the average intake was approximately 14 mg/day. Comparison of dietary source of carotenoids showed that carrots were the major source of beta-carotene in all countries except Spain where spinach was most important. Likewise, carrots were also the main source of alpha-carotene. Tomato or tomato products, were the major source of lycopene. Lutein was mainly obtained from peas in Republic of Ireland and the UK, however, spinach was found to be the major source in other countries. In all countries, beta-cryptoxanthin was primarily obtained from citrus fruit. Comparing the data with that from specific European country studies suggests that the FFQ and carotenoid database described in the present paper can be used for comparative dietary intake studies within Europe. The results show that within Europe there are differences in the specific intake of some carotenoids which are related to different foods consumed by people in different countries.

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