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Am J Clin Nutr. 1997 Oct;66(4):950-8.

Plasma retinol and plasma and lipoprotein tocopherol and carotenoid concentrations in healthy elderly participants of the Framingham Heart Study.

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Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Connecticut, Storrs 06269-4017, USA.


Data on plasma concentrations of tocopherols and the major carotenoids in adults aged > or = 65 y, particularly in those > 80 y, are sparse. In the current study retinol, tocopherol (alpha- and gamma-tocopherols), and carotenoid (lutein/zeaxanthin, cryptoxanthins, lycopene, and alpha- and beta-carotene) concentrations were determined in 638 subjects, 230 men (aged 75 +/- 5 y) and 408 women (76 +/- 6 y), of the Framingham Heart Study. All subjects were free of clinical evidence of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Percentile ranges were comparable with those established in younger cohorts. Moreover, women had significantly higher plasma alpha-tocopherol and plasma and lipoprotein concentrations of beta-cryptoxanthin and alpha- and beta-carotene than did men. Lycopene concentrations were inversely correlated with age and lowest among subjects > or = 80 y. Total intakes (diet+supplements) of vitamin C and vitamin E, but not dietary intakes alone, were positively associated with plasma alpha-tocopherol and inversely associated with gamma-tocopherol concentrations. In multivariate analyses, plasma cholesterol and triacylglycerol concentrations and total intake of vitamins E and C predicted 64% and 55% of the plasma alpha-tocopherol concentrations in men and women, respectively. Important predictors for the majority of carotenoids included plasma cholesterol concentration, body mass index (negative effect), and smoking status (negative effect); for lycopene concentration they included cholesterol concentration and age (negative effect). In summary, percentile ranges and lipoprotein distributions were comparable with those established in younger cohorts, suggesting that overall antioxidant status is not altered in people between the ages of 67 and 96 y.

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