Dietary carotenoids are associated with a reduced risk of chronic diseases. Raw food diets are predominantly plant-based diets that are practised with the intention of preventing chronic diseases by virtue of their high content of beneficial nutritive substances such as carotenoids. However, the benefit of a long-term adherence to these diets is controversial since little is known about their adequacy. Therefore, we investigated vitamin A and carotenoid status and related food sources in raw food diet adherents in Germany. Dietary vitamin A, carotenoid intake, plasma retinol and plasma carotenoids were determined in 198 (ninety-two male and 106 female) strict raw food diet adherents in a cross-sectional study. Raw food diet adherents consumed on average 95 weight% of their total food intake as raw food (approximately 1800 g/d), mainly fruits. Raw food diet adherents had an intake of 1301 retinol activity equivalents/d and 16·7 mg/d carotenoids. Plasma vitamin A status was normal in 82 % of the subjects ( ≥ 1·05 μmol/l) and 63 % had β-carotene concentrations associated with chronic disease prevention ( ≥ 0·88 μmol/l). In 77 % of subjects the lycopene status was below the reference values for average healthy populations ( < 0·45 μmol/l). Fat contained in fruits, vegetables and nuts and oil consumption was a significant dietary determinant of plasma carotenoid concentrations (β-carotene r 0·284; P < 0·05; lycopene r 0·168; P = 0·024). Long-term raw food diet adherents showed normal vitamin A status and achieve favourable plasma β-carotene concentrations as recommended for chronic disease prevention, but showed low plasma lycopene levels. Plasma carotenoids in raw food adherents are predicted mainly by fat intake.
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