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Selenium and antioxidant vitamin status of elderly German women



Low antioxidant intake and status have been shown to be associated with an elevated risk for various diseases. Data on the status of antioxidant vitamins, selenium and coenzyme Q10 of younger female seniors are scarce. The aim of this study was to assess the status of these antioxidants, as well as influencing factors such as dietary intake, anthropometric data and educational level in female seniors (60–70 years) in Germany.


Dietary intake of alpha-tocopherol, beta-carotene and ascorbic acid was determined by a 3-day diet record. Serum concentrations of alpha-tocopherol, beta-carotene, ascorbic acid, selenium and coenzyme Q10 were measured. Anthropometric measures, socioeconomic and educational status were assessed.


In total, 178 elderly women without severe diseases in the region of Hannover, Germany, were included in the study. The mean (±s.d.) age and BMI of the women was 63.2 (2.73) years and 25.6 (3.77) kg/m2, respectively. The study participants were generally better educated than the overall German female population.


Dietary intake of the ascorbic acid and alpha-tocopherol was below RDA in six and 75% of the women, respectively. In comparison to estimated desirable serum concentrations of alpha-tocopherol, ascorbic acid, beta-carotene and selenium, lower concentrations were found in 23, 1, 6, and 39% of the women, respectively. Ascorbic acid (r=0.205, P=0.009) and beta-carotene (r=0.173, P=0.025) intake were significantly associated with serum concentrations. Beta-carotene concentrations were influenced by the type of diet, BMI, and school education (R2=0.128, P<0.001). Serum selenium was positively associated with alcohol intake (r=0.229, P=0.003). Neither employment nor vocational training was predictive for the serum concentrations of antioxidant vitamins, selenium or coenzyme Q10.


Poor status of selenium and alpha-tocopherol is highly prevalent even among younger, well-educated female seniors, whereas ascorbic acid and beta-carotene status seems sufficient in most women.


The study was supported by grants from the Stoll Vita Foundation, Waldshut-Tiengen, Germany.

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Correspondence to M Wolters.

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Guarantors: M Wolters and A Hahn.

Contributors: AH and MW originated and designed the study. SH coordinated the study and organised blood sampling and data collection. SG and NK were responsible for the analytical measurements. MW wrote the paper.

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Wolters, M., Hermann, S., Golf, S. et al. Selenium and antioxidant vitamin status of elderly German women. Eur J Clin Nutr 60, 85–91 (2006).

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  • ascorbic acid
  • alpha-tocopherol
  • aging
  • beta-carotene
  • coenzyme Q10
  • nutritional status
  • ubiquinol
  • vitamin C
  • vitamin E

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