Carotenoids and health in older people

Jayne V Woodside, Alanna J McGrath, Natalie Lyner, Michelle C McKinley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


As the proportion of older people increases, so will chronic disease incidence and the proportion of the population living with disability. Therefore, new approaches to maintain health for as long as possible in this age group are required. Carotenoids are a group of polyphenolic compounds found predominantly in fruit and vegetables that have been proposed to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Such properties may impact on the risk diseases which predominate in older people, and also ageing-related physiological changes. Working out the effect of carotenoid intake versus fruit and vegetable intake is difficult, and the strong correlation between individual carotenoid intakes also complicates any attempt to examine individual carotenoid health effects. Similarly, research to determine whether carotenoids consumed as supplements have similar benefits to increased dietary intake through whole foods, is still required. However, reviewing the recent evidence suggests that carotenoid intake and status are relatively consistently associated with reduced CVD risk, although β-carotene supplementation does not reduce CVD risk and increases lung cancer risk. Increased lycopene intake may reduce prostate cancer progression, with a potential role for carotenoids at other cancer sites. Lutein and zeaxanthin have a plausible role in the maintenance of eye health, whilst an association between carotenoid intake and cognitive and physical health appears possible, although research is limited to date. Given this accruing evidence base to support a specific role for certain carotenoids and ageing, current dietary advice to consume a diet rich in fruit and vegetables would appear prudent, and efforts maintained to encourage increased intake.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-68
Number of pages6
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2015

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