Background: The antioxidant status of the human skin provides protection against the destructive action of free radicals. Most antioxidants cannot be synthesized by the human organism itself, but have to be ingested with a healthy nutrition rich in fruit and vegetables. The Korean cuisine is known to be one of the healthiest worldwide. This binational study investigated the cutaneous carotenoid concentrations in German subjects, South Korean subjects and immigrant Korean subjects resident in Germany and examined whether dietary- and lifestyle-related differences are reflected in the cutaneous carotenoid concentrations. Methods: Measurements of the carotenoid concentrations of 714 healthy volunteers were performed using a non-invasive spectroscopic measurement system based on reflectance spectroscopy. Results: In the present study South Korean residents showed a significantly higher antioxidant status than both native German residents and Korean immigrants living in Germany (p < 0.001). The first generation of Korean immigrants to Germany over the age of 50 mostly preserved Korean dietary habits, showing significantly higher concentrations (p < 0.001) than the German-born second and third Korean generations under the age of 50. Conclusion: The results of the study indicate that a healthy nutrition alone does not provide a high antioxidant status unless the stress exposure can be reduced simultaneously.

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