Graduation Date

Summer 8-19-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Medical Sciences Interdepartmental Area

First Advisor

Corrine Hanson

Second Advisor

Sarah Keim

Third Advisor

Elizabeth Lyden


Introduction Veterans are three times more likely to develop chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) than the general population. This is likely due to increased use of tobacco and exposure to environmental risk factors. Nutritional intake has been linked to COPD, and veterans report unique barriers to improving their eating habits.

Purpose The primary outcome of this study was to examine the relationship between antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrient intake and lung function in veterans with COPD. It was hypothesized that a higher intake of lutein + zeaxanthin, ß-cryptoxanthin, lycopene, retinol, ɑ-carotene, ß-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin D, ɑ-tocopherol, omega-3, zinc and selenium would have a positive association on lung function in veterans with this disease. It was further hypothesized that intakes of ɣ-tocopherol and omega-6 would have an inverse association with lung function.

Methods A total of 42 veterans participated in this prospective cohort study. All participants filled out a food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) and lung function data were also gathered. A micronutrient adequacy score was calculated from the results of the FFQ based on 2/3 recommended dietary allowance (RDA). Veteran’s smoking status and use of nutritional supplements was also included in the data analysis. Significant findings were adjusted for possible confounders of age and smoking.

Results Participants had a very low intake of omega-3 as only 21% of veterans met the AI (1.6g for men) with a mean consumption of 0.3g. Participants also consumed less of the anti-inflammatory nutrient ɑ-tocopherol (mean intake of 8mg) compared to the pro-inflammatory nutrient ɣ-tocopherol (mean intake of 11mg). Thirty participants (71%) had a micronutrient adequacy score of 4 out of 7. However, when the nutrient consumption was evaluated separately, a low percentage of participants met the recommended intake for vitamin D (19%), ɑ-tocopherol (5%), omega-3 (21% of males, 0% of females), zinc (25% of males, 0% of females) and selenium (0%). Veterans had the highest consumption of retinol activity equivalents (RAEs) and vitamin C. After adjusting for confounders, no significant relationship was found between nutrient intake and lung function.

Conclusion From the results of this study, it cannot be concluded that there is an association between the intakes of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients with lung function. However, there are conflicting results in the literature and more research is needed in this area.