Background: In vitro and in vivo studies suggest that carotenoids may inhibit bone resorption and stimulate proliferation and differentiation of osteoblasts. Few studies have examined the association between carotenoid intake (other than beta-carotene) and bone mineral density (BMD).
Objective: We evaluated associations between total and individual carotenoid intake (alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lycopene, and lutein+zeaxanthin) with BMD at the hip, spine, and radial shaft and the 4-y change in BMD.
Design: Both cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses were conducted in 334 men and 540 women (mean +/- SD age: 75 +/- 5 y) in the Framingham Osteoporosis Study. Energy-adjusted carotenoid intakes were estimated from the Willett food-frequency questionnaire. Mean BMD and mean 4-y BMD changes were estimated, for men and women separately, by quartile of carotenoid intake with adjustment for age, BMI, height, physical activity index, smoking (never compared with ever smokers), multivitamin use, season of BMD measurement (for cross-sectional analyses on BMD only), estrogen use (in women), and intakes of total energy, calcium, vitamin D, caffeine, and alcohol.
Results: Few cross-sectional associations were observed with carotenoid intake. Associations between lycopene intake and 4-y change in lumbar spine BMD were significant for women (P for trend = 0.03), as were intakes of total carotenoids, beta-carotene, lycopene and lutein+zeaxanthin with 4-y change in trochanter BMD in men (P for trend = 0.0005, 0.02, 0.009, and 0.008, respectively).
Conclusions: Carotenoids showed protective associations against 4-y loss in trochanter BMD in men and in lumbar spine in women. No significant associations were observed at other bone sites. Although not consistent across all BMD sites examined, these results support a protective role of carotenoids for BMD in older men and women.