Serum Carotenoid Levels Vary by Marital Status

Jim P. Stimpson, Nuha A. Lackan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


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 α-carotene, β-carotene, β-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 μg/dL, P=0.05), lutein/zeaxanthin (mean 15.57 μg/dL [0.27 μmol/L], P=0.01), and lycopene (mean 24.28 μg/dL [0.45 μmol/L], P=0.00) compared to married marital status among men. Divorced marital status was associated with lower lycopene levels (mean 24.23 μg/dL [0.45 μmol/L], P=0.00) compared to married men. Compared to married men, widowed marital status was associated with lower α-carotene (mean 2.47 μg/dL [0.05 μmol/L], P=0.02), β-carotene (mean 11.52 μg/dL [0.21 μmol/L], P=0.04), and lycopene levels (mean 25.15 μg/dL [0.47 μmol/L], P=0.04). Among women, widowed marital status was associated with lower levels of total carotenoids (mean 62.72 μg/dL, P=0.01), α-carotene (mean 1.85 μg/dL [0.03 μmol/L], P=0.01), β-carotene (mean 11.57 μg/dL [0.22 μmol/L], P=0.03), and lutein/zeaxanthin (mean 17.50 μg/dL [0.31 μmol/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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1581-1585
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of the American Dietetic Association
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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