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J Nutr. 1992 Sep;122(9):1792-801.

Correlations of vitamin A and E intakes with the plasma concentrations of carotenoids and tocopherols among American men and women.

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  • 1Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA.


The authors investigated the association of diet and other factors with the plasma concentrations of carotenoids, retinol and tocopherols in a sample of 121 men and 186 women participating in two prospective investigations of dietary etiologies of chronic diseases. Lycopene (mean concentration, 0.82 mumol/L in men, 0.76 mumol/L in women), beta-carotene (mean 0.46 mumol/L in men, 0.58 mumol/L in women) and lutein (mean 0.28 mumol/L in men, 0.27 mumol/L in women) were the major circulating carotenoids. Among nonsmokers, dietary carotenoid, as typically calculated in epidemiologic studies, was significantly correlated with plasma beta-carotene (r = 0.34 in men, r = 0.30 in women), alpha-carotene (r = 0.52 in men, r = 0.37 in women) and lutein (r = 0.36 in men, r = 0.19 in women), but not with plasma zeaxanthin (r = 0.11 and r = 0.02) or lycopene (r = 0.13 and r = 0.01) after adjusting for plasma cholesterol and triglycerides, body mass index and energy intake. Total vitamin E intake was positively associated with plasma concentrations of alpha-tocopherol (r = 0.51 in men, r = 0.41 in women) and inversely associated with plasma concentrations of gamma-tocopherol (r = -0.51 in men r = -0.42 in women), but this was primarily due to use of vitamin E supplements. Measurements of specific carotenoids can provide independent information beyond the usual calculation of carotene intake in epidemiologic studies.

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