Study Title:

Increased blood alpha-carotene, all-trans-Beta-carotene and lycopene levels are associated with beneficial changes in heart rate variability: a CVD-stratified analysis in an adult population-based study.

Study Abstract

Background: Although the associations of antioxidant micronutrients, such as carotenoids and vitamins, with cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) have been studied extensively, blood concentrations of antioxidant micronutrients and heart rate variability (HRV), which has been proven to be an indicator of cardiac autonomic control, has not been reported. We aimed to explore whether blood concentrations of antioxidant micronutrients, including carotenoids and vitamins, are associated with elevated heart rate variability (HRV (beneficial change) in a cross-sectional analysis.

Methods: Data were obtained from the Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) study that includes a general adult population. A total of 1074 (aged 34-84) individuals were included. Multivariable analyses were performed to investigate the association between main blood carotenoids (total lutein, zeaxanthin, beta-cryptoxanthin, 13-cis-beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, all-trans-beta-carotene and total lycopene) and vitamins A (retinol) and E (gamma-tocopherol and alpha-tocopherol) and HRV after adjustments were made for lifestyle factors and age-related confounders.

Results: Pearson correlation analyses showed that the increased levels of carotenoids and vitamins were positively correlated with higher HRV (all P < 0.05). After adjustments were made for age, gender, race, body mass index(BMI), ever-smoker, number of drinking years and exercise, blood alpha-carotene, all-trans-beta-carotene and total lycopene levels were independently associated with higher HRV in the linear regression model (all P < 0.05). Sensitivity analysis by adding "ever chronic respiratory diseases" as a covariate suggested that blood concentrations of these three carotenoids were still associated with higher low-frequency (LF)-HRV and high-frequency (HF)-HRV (all P < 0.05). Furthermore, stratified analyses suggested that the associations were affected by adding "heart disease" and "hypertension" as covariates.

Conclusions: We provide the first evidence that elevated blood concentrations of alpha-carotene, trans-beta-carotene and lycopene are associated with beneficial changes in HRV in the general population. Daily intake of fruit and vegetables may be beneficial to increase blood carotenoid status and further prevent autonomic dysfunction.

Study Information

Nutr J. 2021 May 11;20(1):43. doi: 10.1186/s12937-021-00700-w. PMID: 33971890; PMCID: PMC8111755.

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