Serum beta-carotene and vitamin C as biomarkers of vegetable and fruit intakes in a community-based sample of French adults

Am J Clin Nutr. 1997 Jun;65(6):1796-802. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/65.6.1796.


Relatively high intakes of vegetables and fruit and relatively low intakes of fat are associated with lower rates of heart disease and many types of cancer. Biomarkers for vegetable and fruit consumption are most useful when applicable across different ages, body weights, diets, and varying patterns of fat intake. This study examined two biomarkers, serum concentrations of beta-carotene and vitamin C, as a function of anthropometric, dietary, and lifestyle factors in a community-based sample of French adults. The interview-based dietary-history method was used to assess dietary intakes of 361 males and 476 females aged 18-94 y resident in the Val-de-Marne district southeast of Paris. Serum beta-carotene was quantified by HPLC and vitamin C was measured by using an automated method. Serum beta-carotene and vitamin C concentrations were positively associated with vegetable and fruit intakes and were negatively linked to the consumption of energy, alcohol, and fat. Multiple-regression analyses showed that serum beta-carotene concentration was predicted by fruit and vegetable intakes but was inversely associated with body mass, energy and alcohol intakes, and tobacco use. Serum vitamin C concentration was positively associated with fruit consumption but was negatively associated with age, body mass, and tobacco use. Serum beta-carotene and vitamin C concentrations are useful biomarkers of vegetable and fruit consumption in the French diet. However, other dietary and lifestyle factors also have a significant effect on circulating concentrations of these antioxidant micronutrients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / blood
  • Aging / physiology
  • Anthropometry
  • Ascorbic Acid / analysis
  • Ascorbic Acid / blood*
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid / methods
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Fats / pharmacology
  • Eating / physiology
  • Female
  • France
  • Fruit / chemistry
  • Fruit / standards*
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Micronutrients / analysis
  • Middle Aged
  • Regression Analysis
  • Vegetables / chemistry
  • Vegetables / standards*
  • beta Carotene / analysis
  • beta Carotene / blood*


  • Biomarkers
  • Dietary Fats
  • Micronutrients
  • beta Carotene
  • Cholesterol
  • Ascorbic Acid