N° 30 | January 2009

CAROTENOIDS : ELDERLY HEALTHY DIET MARKER

Editorial

Incidence of cardiovascular disease and cancer increases with aging. Preventive strategies are of utmost importance for healthy aging and quality of life. Among them, the reduction in oxidative damage appears to be an important strategy to reduce cancer and cardiovascular disease mortality.

Carotenoids are known to be powerful anti-oxidants and may be good candidates to protect against damage caused by oxidative stress, since epidemiologic studies suggest that a diet with high fruit and vegetable intake is protective against cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Carotenoids (alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lycopene…) are present in a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. It is generally considered that plasma carotenoids are a valid biological marker for vegetable and fruit intake. Studying the relationship between plasma carotenoids and mortality may be of great interest, especially in older adults who are more prone to oxidative stress and in order to propose dietary guidelines for this population.

Sarcopenia is characterized by a loss of muscle mass, and loss of strength is a major hallmark for aging. It is also a main component of frailty and is predictive for disability. Developing strategies to fight against sarcopenia in the elderly is of utmost importance. Among various potential mechanisms, oxidative stress that can damage mitochondrial DNA may be a causal factor for sarcopenia. Therefore, results of studies developed to determine whether carotenoid intake may be protective against the decline in muscle mass and function may provide new perspectives.

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