Dietary total antioxidant capacity is associated with leukocyte telomere length in a children and adolescent population

Clin Nutr. 2015 Aug;34(4):694-9. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2014.07.015. Epub 2014 Aug 4.


Background & aims: Oxidative stress and inflammation seem to be potential underlying mechanisms for telomere attrition. A lack of specific antioxidants is believed to increase free radical damage and a greater risk for telomere shortening. Our aim was to evaluate the relationship between diet and leukocyte telomere length in a cross-sectional study of children and adolescents. We hypothesized that dietary total antioxidant capacity would be positively associated with telomere length.

Methods: Telomere length was measured by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction in 287 participants (55% males, 6-18 years), who were randomly selected from the GENOI study.

Results: A positive correlation between dietary total antioxidant capacity and telomere length (r = 0.157, p = 0.007) was found after adjustment for age and energy intake. However, higher white bread consumption was associated with shorter telomeres (β = -0.204, p = 0.002) in fully-adjusted models. Interestingly, those individuals who had simultaneously higher dietary total antioxidant capacity and lower white bread consumption significantly presented the longest telomeres. Moreover, the multivariable-adjusted odds ratio for very short telomeres was 0.30 for dietary total antioxidant capacity (p = 0.023) and 1.37 for white bread (p = 0.025).

Conclusion: It was concluded that longer telomeres were associated with higher dietary total antioxidant capacity and lower white bread consumption in Spanish children and adolescents. These findings might open a new line of investigation about the potential role of an antioxidant diet in maintaining telomere length.

Keywords: Antioxidants; Diet; Oxidative stress; Telomeres; Young population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Antioxidants / administration & dosage*
  • Bread
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Edible Grain
  • Energy Intake
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Genomics
  • Humans
  • Leukocytes / chemistry
  • Leukocytes / drug effects*
  • Male
  • Nutrition Assessment
  • Spain
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Telomere / drug effects
  • Telomere / metabolism
  • Telomere Homeostasis / drug effects*
  • Telomere Shortening


  • Antioxidants
  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Dietary Fats
  • Dietary Proteins