Cross-sectional associations between dietary antioxidant vitamins C, E and carotenoid intakes and sarcopenic indices in women aged 18–79 years

A. A. Welch, A. Jennings, E. Kelaiditi, J. Skinner, C. J. Steves

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The prevalence of sarcopenia is increasing in aging populations, so prevention is critical. Vitamins (A, C, E and carotenoids) modify skeletal muscle via protein and collagen synthesis and anti-inflammatory activities. Previous studies have not investigated intake of these vitamins in relation to sarcopenic indices in both younger and older-aged women. Indices of skeletal muscle mass (as fat-free mass (FFM) relative to body size) were measured using DXA and leg explosive power (LEP) using the Nottingham Power Rig in 2570 women aged 18-79 years. Adjusted measures of skeletal muscle were calculated according to quintiles of vitamin C, E, retinol and carotenoid intake, derived from Food Frequency Questionnaires, after stratification by age. Higher vitamin C intake was associated with significantly higher indices of FFM and LEP, (Q5-Q1 = 2.0-12.8%, P < 0.01-0.02). Intakes of total and individual carotenoids were significantly associated with indices of FFM and LEP (Q5-Q1 = 1.0-7.5%). Vitamin E was significantly associated with FFM% and FFM BMI only. In mutually adjusted analysis with vitamin C, total carotene, vitamin E and protein in the model, the strongest associations were with vitamin C. These associations were stronger in younger women (< 65 years). For the first time, our research shows higher dietary intakes of antioxidant vitamins, particularly vitamin C, is associated with higher skeletal muscle mass and power in free-living women. These findings have relevance for the treatment and prevention of frailty and sarcopenia throughout adulthood.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)331–342
Number of pages12
JournalCalcified Tissue International
Issue number4
Early online date7 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020


  • Carotenes
  • Diet
  • Grip strength
  • Sarcopenia
  • Skeletal muscle
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E

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