Dietary Antioxidant Intake and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

  1. Jukka Montonen, MSC1,
  2. Paul Knekt, PHD12,
  3. Ritva Järvinen, PHD3 and
  4. Antti Reunanen, PHD1
  1. 1National Public Health Institute, Department of Health and Functional Capacity, Helsinki, Finland
  2. 2Social Insurance Institution, Helsinki and Turku, Finland
  3. 3Department of Clinical Nutrition, University of Kuopio, Kuopio, Finland
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to J. Montonen, National Public Health Institute, Mannerheimintie 166, 00300 Helsinki, Finland. E-mail: jukka.montonen{at}


OBJECTIVE—The intake of antioxidants was studied for its ability to predict type 2 diabetes.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS—A cohort of 2,285 men and 2,019 women 40–69 years of age and free of diabetes at baseline (1967–1972) was studied. Food consumption during the previous year was estimated using a dietary history interview. The intake of vitamin C, four tocopherols, four tocotrienols, and six carotenoids was calculated. During a 23-year follow-up, a total of 164 male and 219 female incident cases occurred.

RESULTS—Vitamin E intake was significantly associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. The relative risk (RR) of type 2 diabetes between the extreme quartiles of the intake was 0.69 (95% CI 0.51–0.94, P for trend = 0.003). Intakes of α-tocopherol, γ-tocopherol, δ-tocopherol, and β-tocotrienol were inversely related to a risk of type 2 diabetes. Among single carotenoids, β-cryptoxanthin intake was significantly associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes (RR 0.58, 95% CI 0.44–0.78, P < 0.001). No association was evident between intake of vitamin C and type 2 diabetes risk.

CONCLUSIONS—This study supports the hypothesis that development of type 2 diabetes may be reduced by the intake of antioxidants in the diet.


  • A table elsewhere in this issue shows conventional and Système International (SI) units and conversion factors for many substances.

    • Accepted October 21, 2003.
    • Received June 25, 2003.
| Table of Contents