British Journal of Nutrition

Full Papers

Plasma concentrations of carotenoids and vitamin C are better correlated with dietary intake in normal weight than overweight and obese elderly subjects

Jesús Vioquea1 c1, Tanja Weinbrennera1, Laura Asensioa1, Adela Castellóa1, Ian S. Younga2 and Astrid Fletchera3

a1 Departamento Salud Pública, Campus San Juan, Universidad Miguel Hernández, Elche-Alicante, Ctra. Valencia s/n, 03550 Alicante, Spain

a2 Centre for Clinical and Population Sciences, Queen's University Belfast, Grosvenor Road, Belfast BT12 6BJ, UK

a3 Department of Epidemiology & Population Health, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London WC1E 7HT, UK


Carotenoid and vitamin C intakes, assessed by FFQ, have been positively associated with plasma concentrations in different populations. However, the influence of BMI on these associations has not been explored in detail. We explored in a cross-sectional study the relation between dietary carotenoid and vitamin C intakes, using a 135-item FFQ, with their plasma concentrations by BMI categories in 252 men and 293 women, 65 years and older. For men and women combined, significant (P < 0·05) Pearson correlations were observed between energy-adjusted dietary intakes and plasma concentrations (carotenoids adjusted for cholesterol) for: α-carotene 0·21, β-carotene 0·19, lycopene 0·18, β-cryptoxanthin 0·20 and vitamin C 0·36. Multiple linear regression analyses showed that the intake of carotenoids and vitamin C were significant predictors of their respective plasma concentration (P < 0·01), and that BMI was inversely associated with plasma concentration of carotenoids (P ≤ 0·01) but not with plasma vitamin C. In addition, we observed significant interactions between BMI and the intakes of α-carotene and lutein + zeaxanthin, and to a lower extent β-carotene, suggesting that these intakes in subjects with high BMI were not good predictors of their plasma concentration. The present data suggest that plasma carotenoids and vitamin C may be good markers of dietary intake in elderly subjects, but not so for α-carotene, β-carotene and lutein + zeaxanthin in obese subjects.

(Received May 19 2006)

(Revised November 20 2006)

(Accepted November 21 2006)


c1 *Corresponding author: Dr Jesús Vioque, fax +34 965 91 95 51, email