High serum carotenoids associated with lower risk for bone loss and osteoporosis in post-menopausal Japanese female subjects: prospective cohort study

PLoS One. 2012;7(12):e52643. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0052643. Epub 2012 Dec 20.


Introduction: Recent epidemiological studies show that high intakes of carotenoids might be useful to maintain bone health, but little is known about the association of serum carotenoids with change of bone mineral density (BMD). The objective of this study was to investigate longitudinally whether serum carotenoids are associated with bone loss.

Methods: We conducted a follow-up on 146 male and 99 pre- and 212 post-menopausal female subjects from the Mikkabi study. Those who participated in previous BMD surveys and completed four years of follow-up were examined longitudinally.

Results: During a 4-year follow-up, 15 of the post-menopausal female subjects developed new-onset osteoporosis. In contrast, none of the male and pre-menopausal female subjects did. In male and pre-menopausal female subjects, the six serum carotenoids at the baseline were not associated with bone loss. On the other hand, in post-menopausal female subjects, the 4-year bone loss of radius was inversely associated with the serum carotenoid concentrations, especially in β-carotene. After adjustments for confounders, the odds ratios (OR) for osteoporosis in the highest tertiles of serum β-carotene and β-cryptoxanthin against the lowest tertiles were 0.24 (95% confidence interval 0.05-1.21) and 0.07 (CI: 0.01-0.88), respectively. Serum β-cryptoxanthin was also inversely associated with the risk for osteopenia and/or osteoporosis (P for trend, 0.037). In addition, our retrospective analysis revealed that subjects who developed osteoporosis and/or osteopenia during the survey period had significantly lower serum concentrations of β-cryptoxanthin and β-carotene at the baseline than those in the normal group.

Conclusions: Antioxidant carotenoids, especially β-cryptoxanthin and β-carotene, are inversely associated with the change of radial BMD in post-menopausal female subjects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Asian People*
  • Bone Density
  • Carotenoids / blood*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoporosis / blood*
  • Osteoporosis / epidemiology
  • Perimenopause*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk


  • Carotenoids

Grants and funding

This work was supported by a grant from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries (MAFF) for a food research project titled “Integrated Research on Safety and Physiological Function of Food” and a grant from the Council for advancement of Fruit Tree Science. The funders had a role in data collection and analysis.