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Childhood is a critical period for muscle accumulation. Studies in elders have reported that antioxidant vitamins could improve muscle health. However, limited studies have assessed such associations in children. This study included 243 boys and 183 girls. A seventy-nine-item FFQ was used to investigate dietary nutrients intake. Plasma levels of retinol and α-tocopherol were measured using high-performance liquid chromatography with MS. Dual X-ray absorptiometry was used to assess appendicular skeletal muscle mass (ASM) and total body fat. The ASM index (ASMI) and ASMI Z-score were then calculated. Hand grip strength was measured using a Jamar® Plus+ Hand Dynamometer. Fully adjusted multiple linear regression models showed that for each unit increase in plasma retinol content, ASM, ASMI, left HGS and ASMI Z-score increased by 2·43 × 10−3 kg, 1·33 × 10−3 kg/m2, 3·72 × 10−3 kg and 2·45 × 10−3 in girls, respectively (P < 0·001–0·050). ANCOVA revealed a dose–response relationship between tertiles of plasma retinol level and muscle indicators (Ptrend: 0·001–0·007). The percentage differences between the top and bottom tertiles were 8·38 %, 6·26 %, 13·2 %, 12·1 % and 116 % for ASM, ASMI, left HGS, right HGS and ASMI Z-score in girls, respectively (Pdiff: 0·005–0·020). No such associations were observed in boys. Plasma α-tocopherol levels were not correlated with muscle indicators in either sex. In conclusion, high circulating retinol levels are positively associated with muscle mass and strength in school-age girls.
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