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J Nutr. 1994 Dec;124(12):2397-403.

Beta-carotene supplementation increases antioxidant capacity of plasma in older women.

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USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, Boston, MA 02111, USA.


The antioxidant effect of dietary beta-carotene supplementation on the peroxidation potential of plasma was investigated in a randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Twelve healthy women (62-80 y) supplemented their usual daily diet with 90 mg of beta-carotene (n = 6) or placebo (n = 6) capsules for 3 wk. Plasma concentrations of beta-carotene, alpha- and gamma-tocopherol, ascorbate, urate, bilirubin and in vitro production of phosphatidylcholine hydroperoxides (PC-OOH) and utilization of plasma antioxidants in the presence of 50 mmol/L 2,2'-azobis (2-aminopropane) hydrochloride (AAPH), a free radical generator, at 37 degrees C were measured before and after dietary treatment. Plasma beta-carotene increased from 0.76 +/- 0.16 to 6.45 +/- 1.16 micromol/L (P < 0.05) in supplemented but not placebo-treated subjects. The plasma concentrations of other antioxidants did not change significantly in either group. beta-Carotene supplementation did not affect basal levels of plasma PC-OOH as measured by HPLC post-column chemiluminescence but did affect AAPH-induced production of PC-OOH. Before supplementation, the induction period of plasma PC-OOH production was 2.4 +/- 0.4 h, with levels reaching 5.39 +/- 1.50 micromol/L after 6 h of incubation. After supplementation, the induction period increased significantly to 4.2 +/- 0.4 h (P < 0.01), with a lower PC-OOH production of 2.16 +/- 0.90 micromol/L after 6 h (P < 0.05). In this system, plasma ascorbate concentrations were depleted first, followed by loss of bilirubin and alpha-tocopherol and then by the sequential loss of gamma-tocopherol, urate and beta-carotene. These results indicate that beta-carotene supplementation increases the plasma antioxidant capacity of older women.

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