1198 people (623 males, 575 females) aged 65 years or over, of whom 925 were living in private households and 273 were living in institutions.
Intermediate alcohol consumption (particularly 0.1–14 units week−1; 1 unit = 8g) derived from a 4-day diet diary or a 12-month recall questionnaire, was associated with higher intakes of vitamins C, E, B1, iron, calcium, energy from food, carbohydrate and non-starch polysaccharides than heavy alcohol consumption (28 + units week−1) or abstinence, after adjustment for a number of factors (age, sex, domicile, social class, cigarette smoking, self-reported health, grip strength and total energy intake). Intermediate alcohol consumption was also associated with higher blood concentrations (independent of intake) of vitamin C, β-cryptoxanthin, lutein and calcium, with the lowest concentrations being found in heavy alcohol users. The lowest concentrations of serum ferritin were found in light drinkers and the highest levels in heavier alcohol drinkers. Alcohol consumption ranging from 0.1 to > 28 units week−1 was directly correlated with intakes of B vitamins, total energy and fat, with blood concentrations (independent of intake) of lycopene. high density lipoprotein (HDL)-cholesterol, plasma pyridoxal phosphate and retinol, and with blood pressure and grip strength.
Compared with abstinence and heavy drinking, light to moderate alcohol consumption in older people is associated with higher intakes of certain nutrients, and higher blood concentrations (independent of intake) of some micronutrient status indices, including antioxidants. The explanation for the latter associations remains unclear and further investigation is recommended. Heavier alcohol consumption is associated with both beneficial and adverse effects with respect to nutrient intakes and health status.