Serum carotenoid levels vary by marital status.J Am Diet Assoc 2007; 107(9):1581-5JA
This study examined differences in serum carotenoid levels by marital status. The design was a cross-sectional, nationally representative survey of 16,597 participants ages 18 years and older from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The main outcome measures were serum levels of alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein/zeaxanthin, lycopene, and total carotenoids. Multivariate linear regression was used to model the association of serum carotenoids and marital status by sex and age with adjustments made for age, race/ethnicity, years of education, household income, body mass index, alcohol use, physical activity, serum cotinine, serum cholesterol, and vitamin/mineral supplement use. Among men, never married marital status was associated with lower total carotenoid levels (mean 66.16 microg/dL, P=0.05), lutein/zeaxanthin (mean 15.57 microg/dL [0.27 micromol/L], P=0.01), and lycopene (mean 24.28 microg/dL [0.45 micromol/L], P=0.00) compared to married marital status among men. Divorced marital status was associated with lower lycopene levels (mean 24.23 microg/dL [0.45 micromol/L], P=0.00) compared to married men. Compared to married men, widowed marital status was associated with lower alpha-carotene (mean 2.47 microg/dL [0.05 micromol/L], P=0.02), beta-carotene (mean 11.52 microg/dL [0.21 micromol/L], P=0.04), and lycopene levels (mean 25.15 microg/dL [0.47 micromol/L], P=0.04). Among women, widowed marital status was associated with lower levels of total carotenoids (mean 62.72 microg/dL, P=0.01), alpha-carotene (mean 1.85 microg/dL [0.03 micromol/L], P=0.01), beta-carotene (mean 11.57 microg/dL [0.22 micromol/L], P=0.03), and lutein/zeaxanthin (mean 17.50 microg/dL [0.31 micromol/L], P=0.05) compared to married women. Our conclusion is that serum carotenoid levels varied by marital status, and widowed men and women were at the greatest risk of low carotenoid levels.