Changes in vitamin biomarkers during a 2-year intervention trial involving increased fruit and vegetable consumption by free-living volunteers

Helen M Macdonald, Antonia C Hardcastle, Garry G Duthie, Susan J Duthie, Lorna Aucott, Rena Sandison, Martin J Shearer, David M Reid

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24 Citations (Scopus)


Trials in free-living populations involving increased consumption of fruit and vegetables are difficult to monitor. We evaluated biomarkers for assessing fruit and vegetable intake and compliance in a 2-year trial. Postmenopausal women were randomised to 300 g additional fruit and vegetables per d (n 66), placebo (n 70) or potassium citrate (n 140). They completed dietary checklists (3-monthly) and food diaries or FFQ (yearly). We measured whole-blood folate, plasma vitamin C and homocysteine (yearly), serum vitamin E and carotenoids (at 12 months) and urinary vitamin K metabolites (yearly). Plasma vitamin C was associated with fruit and vegetable intake at baseline (r +0.31; P 500 g/d, whereas whole-blood folate, beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin continued to increase. Concentrations of vitamin C, folate and beta-cryptoxanthin were lower and the 7C-aglycone metabolite of vitamin K higher, in smokers compared with non-smokers. Suitable markers for monitoring fruit and vegetable compliance include beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin. Plasma vitamin C and whole-blood folate may be suitable for monitoring intakes in populations but for monitoring compliance the former may be restricted to low intakes of fruit and vegetables and the latter to vegetable intake.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1477-86
Number of pages10
JournalBritish Journal of Nutrition
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2009


  • Aged
  • Biological Markers
  • Diet
  • Female
  • Food Habits
  • Fruit
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Vegetables
  • Vitamins

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