Both alpha- and beta-carotene, but not tocopherols and vitamin C, are inversely related to 15-year cardiovascular mortality in Dutch elderly men

J Nutr. 2008 Feb;138(2):344-50. doi: 10.1093/jn/138.2.344.


The role of beta-carotene, alpha-tocopherol, and vitamin C in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) is controversial. Prospective studies on gamma-tocopherol and carotenoids other than beta-carotene are sparse. We assessed relations between the intake of different carotenoids, alpha- and gamma-tocopherol, and vitamin C with 15-y CVD mortality in elderly men who participated in the Zutphen Elderly Study. Information on diet and potential confounding factors was collected in 1985, 1990, and 1995. In 1985, 559 men (mean age approximately 72 y) free of chronic diseases were included in the current analysis. After 15 y of follow-up, comprising 5744 person-years, 197 men had died from CVD. After adjustment for age, smoking, and other potential lifestyle and dietary confounders, relative risks (RR) (95% CI) of CVD death for a 1-SD increase in intake were 0.81 (0.66-0.99) for alpha-carotene and 0.80 (0.66-0.97) for beta-carotene. Carrots were the primary source of alpha- and beta-carotene and their consumption was related to a lower risk of death from CVD (adjusted RR, 0.83; 95% CI = 0.68-1.00). Intakes of carotenoids other than alpha- and beta-carotene were not associated with CVD mortality, nor were vitamin C and alpha- and gamma tocopherol. In conclusion, dietary intakes of alpha-carotene and beta-carotene are inversely associated with CVD mortality in elderly men. This study does not indicate an important role for other carotenoids, tocopherols, or vitamin C in lowering the risk of CVD death.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antioxidants / administration & dosage
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Ascorbic Acid / pharmacology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / mortality*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Carotenoids / pharmacology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diet
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Tocopherols / pharmacology*
  • beta Carotene / pharmacology*


  • Antioxidants
  • beta Carotene
  • Carotenoids
  • alpha-carotene
  • Ascorbic Acid
  • Tocopherols