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Nutrients. 2011 Dec;3(12):1003-22. doi: 10.3390/nu3121003. Epub 2011 Dec 8.

A carotenoid health index based on plasma carotenoids and health outcomes.

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  • 1Hallelujah Acres Foundation, Zillah, WA 98953, USA.


While there have been many studies on health outcomes that have included measurements of plasma carotenoids, this data has not been reviewed and assembled into a useful form. In this review sixty-two studies of plasma carotenoids and health outcomes, mostly prospective cohort studies or population-based case-control studies, are analyzed together to establish a carotenoid health index. Five cutoff points are established across the percentiles of carotenoid concentrations in populations, from the tenth to ninetieth percentile. The cutoff points (mean ± standard error of the mean) are 1.11 ± 0.08, 1.47 ± 0.08, 1.89 ± 0.08, 2.52 ± 0.13, and 3.07 ± 0.20 µM. For all cause mortality there seems to be a low threshold effect with protection above every cutoff point but the lowest. But for metabolic syndrome and cancer outcomes there tends to be significant positive health outcomes only above the higher cutoff points, perhaps as a triage effect. Based on this data a carotenoid health index is proposed with risk categories as follows: very high risk: <1 µM, high risk: 1-1.5 µM, moderate risk: 1.5-2.5 µM, low risk: 2.5-4 µM, and very low risk: >4 µM. Over 95 percent of the USA population falls into the moderate or high risk category of the carotenoid health index.


β-carotene; cancer; cardiovascular disease; carotenoid; diabetes; lycopene; zeaxanthin; α-carotene; β-cryptoxanthin

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