Adequate beta-carotene intake may decrease risk of cardiovascular disease

May 1, 2012

A new study from Finland reports that low concentrations of beta-carotene in the blood may increase the risk for mortality due to cardiovascular diseases among men nearly twofold.

In the observational study, carotenoid concentrations of 1,031 men (aged 46 to 65 years) in the blood were measured as were instances of death from cardiovascular diseases (CVD) , as categorized by existing risk factors, over a median period of 15.9 years (1). The study results showed that low serum concentrations of beta-carotene were strongly linked to an increased CVD-related mortality risk among participants with a risk factor such as overweight, hypertension, diabetes or smoking. The strongest risk of CVD mortality was observed among smokers with the lowest levels of beta-carotene. Other carotenoids and the sum of carotenoids were not signifi-cantly related to increased risk of CVD mortality.

The researchers concluded that elevated serum concentrations of beta-carotene may decrease the risk of CVD death significantly. And according to them, the study findings confirmed that health lifestyle including consumption of fruits and vegetables rich in beta-carotene may prevent from CVD related deaths.

Many epidemiological studies have shown that high dietary intake (2, 3) or circulating concentrations of carote-noids (4, 5) are associated with decreased risk of CVD mortality. However, such associations have not been observed every time. Explanations for inconsistent findings may be due to the different study populations, study design (case-control or cross-sectional) and different methods of measuring carotenoids (dietary intake values or blood concentrations). Most carotenoids are reported to possess antioxidant properties and to mediate anti-inflammatory response, which reduces risk of CVD (6).


  1. Karppi J. et al. Low beta-carotene concentrations increase the risk of cardiovascular disease mortality among Finnish men with risk factors. Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases. Published online April 2012.
  2. Buijsse B. et al. Both alpha- and beta-carotene, but not tocopherols and vitamin C, are inversely related to 15-year cardiovascular mortality in Dutch elderly men. J Nutr. 2008; 138:344–350.
  3. Knekt P. et al. Antioxidant vitamin intake and coronary mortality in a longitudinal population study. Am J Epidemiol. 1994; 139:1180–1189.
  4. Shardell M. D. et al. Low- serum carotenoid concentrations and carotenoid interactions predict mortality in US adults: the third national health and nutrition examination survey. Nutr Res. 2011; 31:178–189.
  5. Ito Y. et al. A population-based follow-up study on mortality from cancer or cardiovascular disease and serum carotenoids, retinol and tocopherols in Japanese inhabitants. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2006; 7:533–546.
  6. Van Herpen-Broekmans W. M. et al. Serum carotenoids and vitamins in relation to markers of endothelial function and inflammation. Eur J Epidemiol. 2004; 19:915–921.