Research: HUGHES and ONG,

Listed in Issue 35

Abstract

HUGHES and ONG, Department of Community, Occupational, and Family Medicine, National University of Singapore, Faculty of Medicine, Singapore examined the hypothesis that the higher rates of coronary heart disease (CHD) in Indians (South Asians) compared with Malays and Chinese may be due, in part, to differences in antioxidants (vitamins A, C, and E, and selenium) and pro-oxidants (iron).

Background

Methodology

The authors conducted a cross-sectional study of the general population in Singapore, taking a random sample of 941 people aged 30-69 years.

Results

There were moderate correlations between vitamins A and E and between these vitamins and selenium. Mean plasma levels of vitamins A and E were similar by ethnic group. However, mean plasma concentrations of vitamin C were lower in Indians and Malays than in Chinese men and women. The mean serum concentration of selenium was lower in Indians than Malays and Chinese men and women and mean levels of serum ferritin (iron) was much lower in Indians than Malays and Chinese .

Conclusion

Lower levels of vitamin C and selenium in Indians, particularly in combination, may play a part in Indians increased risk of CHD . Vitamins A and E and ferritin do not play such a role. Lower levels of vitamin C in Indians and Malays may be due to its destruction by more prolonged cooking. However, lower selenium levels in Indians is probably due to lower dietary intake and the much lower ferritin caused to a lower dietary intake of iron and its binding by phytates.

References

Hughes K and Ong CN. Vitamins, selenium, iron, and coronary heart disease risk in Indians, Malays, and Chinese in Singapore. J Epidemiol Community Health 52(30): 181-5 March 1998.

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