Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the leading cause of death in older women with 500,000 dying annually. Postmenopausal women have a different relative risk for CHD due to the loss of ovarian function and cessation of menses. Recent epidemiological studies indicate that 1) an increase in α-tocopherol intake is associated with a decrease in the incidence of CHD in both men and women and 2) an increase in the plasma concentration of α-tocopherol is associated with a decreased susceptibility of LDL to oxidative modification. This study examined the dietary intake of α-tocopherol and retinol in a group of 32 postmenopausal women, and the correlation between dietary intake and plasma concentrations of these two vitamins. The 3-day diet records indicate that 66% of our population receives the RDA (8mg) of α-tocopherol and 93% receives the RDA (800 RE) of retinol. The mean intake is 38.43 mg TE for α-tocopherol and 1720 RE for retinol. Weak, positive correlations between intake and plasma concentrations for α-tocopherol and retinol were seen with correlations of r=0.326 and r=0.204 respectively. In general, this population consumes above average quantities of α-tocopherol and retinol (NHANES III). However, many are not meeting the RDA for α-tocopherol and only five are receiving 100 IU of α-tocopherol which is necessary to see antioxidant benefits. The low correlation coefficients between the intake and plasma levels suggest that dietary intake of α-tocopherol and retinol cannot accurately predict their plasma concentrations, nor do plasma levels of α-tocopherol and retinol reflect intake for the levels consumed by these women.
Faculty Mentor: Amy Olson, PhD, RD