Research: FLETCHER and colleagues,

Listed in Issue 97


FLETCHER and colleagues, Centre for Ageing and Public Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, United Kingdoms,, report the findings of a trial on antioxidant vitamins and mortality in older persons.


Older people are at risk of both poor nutrition and increasing oxidative stress. This study, an add-on to the Medical Research Council Trial of Assessment and Management of Older People in the Community, aimed to evaluate the relationship between antioxidants and mortality in older people.


A total of 1214 participants, randomly selected amongst persons between the ages of 75 and 84 from the lists of GPs taking part in the larger MRC study, provided a blood sample and were interviewed about their diet with the use of a food-frequency questionnaire. Statistical analyses were based on deaths after a median of 4.4 years, and risk ratios were estimated for quintiles of dietary or blood antioxidants.


There was a strong inverse association of blood ascorbate (vitamin C) concentrations with all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality. This association was only marginally reduced after correction for supplement use. There was no evidence for an influence of the vitamins A or E or beta-carotene on total mortality. Dietary intake of antioxidants as measured by the food frequency questionnaire was not associated with either total or cardiovascular disease mortality.


Low blood vitamin C concentration is a strong predictor of mortality in the older British population.


Fletcher AE, Breeze E, Shetty PS. Antioxidant vitamins and mortality in older persons: findings from the nutrition add-on study to the Medical Research Council Trial of Assessment and Management of Older People in the Community. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 78 (5): 999-1010, Nov 2003.


In view of the significant inverse association between high blood concentrations of Vitamin C and lower all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality, I would advocate introduction of vitamin C supplementation for older UK individuals.

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