Serum concentrations of antioxidant vitamins and carotenoids are low in individuals with a history of attempted suicide

Nutr Neurosci. 2007 Feb-Apr;10(1-2):51-8. doi: 10.1080/10284150701250747.


Primary objective: Low consumption of fruits and vegetable has been reported in individuals with psychiatric disorders. We tested the hypothesis that antioxidant vitamins and carotenoids rich in fruits and vegetable may be consequently low among attempters.

Design and methods: As a part of the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III), 1988-1994, serum vitamins and carotenoids were measured in 6680 adults aged 17-39 years, who also completed a mental disorder diagnostic interview. Serum levels below gender-specific 1st quartile of the population were defined as low, otherwise as normal.

Results: Compared with non-attempters, prevalence ratios (PRs) of low alpha-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin in attempters were 1.45 (95% CI = 1.06-1.98) and 2.12 (1.47-3.08), respectively, the mean differences (nonattempter-attempter) of vitamin C, lutein/zeaxanthin and lycopene were 6.071 mmol/1 (SE = 1.948, p < 0.005), 0.041 micromol/l (0.015, p < 0.005) and 0.045 micromol/l (0.015, p < 0.005) respectively. Total carotenoid was significantly lower (PR = 2.34 (1.56-3.49) and mean difference = 0.142 (0.058) micromol/l). These differences were reduced by adjustment for fruit/vegetables consumption, vitamin supplementation and serum cotinine, but remain significant for beta-cryptoxanthin, lycopene and total carotenoids.

Conclusion: A history of attempted suicide is associated with low levels of antioxidant vitamins and carotenoids. Clinical importance of low antioxidants in attempters and interventional opportunity warrant further examination.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antioxidants / metabolism*
  • Avitaminosis / blood*
  • Carotenoids / blood*
  • Carotenoids / deficiency
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Ethnicity / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Income
  • Male
  • Mental Health
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Poverty
  • Reference Values
  • Suicide, Attempted*
  • Vitamins / blood*


  • Antioxidants
  • Vitamins
  • Carotenoids