British Journal of Nutrition

Full Papers

Human and Clinical Nutrition

Low dietary intake of β-carotene, α-tocopherol and ascorbic acid is associated with increased inflammatory and oxidative stress status in a Swedish cohort

Johanna Helmerssona1a2, Johan Ärnlöva2, Anders Larssona3 and Samar Basua2a4 c1

a1 Department of Research and Development, County Council of Gävleborg/Uppsala University, Gävle Hospital, SE-801 87 Gävle, Sweden

a2 Department of Public Health and Caring Sciences, Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism/Geriatrics, Faculty of Medicine, Uppsala University, Uppsala Science Park, SE-751 85 Uppsala, Sweden

a3 Department of Medical Sciences, Clinical Chemistry, Uppsala University Hospital, SE-751 85 Uppsala, Sweden

a4 Center of Excellence-Inflammation, Uppsala University Hospital, Uppsala, Sweden


Fruit and vegetable consumption has been associated with a reduced risk of several diseases including CVD. A part of these effects seen could be linked to anti-inflammatory and antioxidative effects, although this has not been thoroughly investigated. The present study was designed to investigate the effects of the dietary intake of β-carotene, α-tocopherol and ascorbic acid on in vivo biomarkers of inflammation (PGF, high-sensitive C-reactive protein (hsCRP) and IL-6 formation) and oxidative stress (F2-isoprostane formation), the two important factors associated with accelerated atherosclerosis. The dietary intake of 704 participants in the Uppsala Longitudinal Study of Adult Men (ULSAM) at age 70 years was registered and inflammatory and oxidative stress biomarkers were quantified 7 years later. The registered dietary intakes of ascorbic acid and α-tocopherol were negatively associated linearly and in quartiles with both PGF, hsCRP, IL-6 and F2-isoprostanes, where ascorbic acid intake generally was more strongly associated. Dietary intake of β-carotene was only significantly negatively associated with F2-isoprostanes. In conclusion, the present study is the first to suggest that the intake of food rich in antioxidants is associated with reduced cyclo-oxygenase- and cytokine-mediated inflammation and oxidative stress at 7 years of follow-up. These associations could be linked to the beneficial effects of fruit and vegetables observed on CVD.

(Received April 24 2008)

(Revised September 05 2008)

(Accepted October 06 2008)

(Online publication December 15 2008)


c1 Corresponding author: Dr Samar Basu, fax +46 18 611 79 76, email


Abbreviations: COX, cyclo-oxygenase; CRP, C-reactive protein