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Diana Mossop


Introduction to Carotenoids

Carotenoids are a highly colored (red, orange, and yellow) group of fat-soluble plant pigments. All organisms, whether bacteria or plants, that rely on the sun for energy contain carotenoids. Their antioxidant effects enable these compounds to play a crucial role in protecting organisms against damage during photosynthesis the process of converting sunlight into chemical energy.

Sources of Carotenoids

Carotenoids are found in all plant foods. In general, the greater the intensity of color, the higher the level of carotenoids. In green leafy vegetables, beta-carotene is the predominant carotenoid. In the orange colored fruits and vegetables such as carrots, apricots, mangoes, yams, winter squash beta-carotene concentrations are high, but other pro-vitamin A carotenoids typically predominate. Yellow vegetables have higher concentrations of yellow carotenoids (xanthophylls), hence a lowered pro-vitamin A activity; but some of these compounds, such as lutein, may have significant health benefits, potentially due to their antioxidant effects. The red and purple vegetables and fruits such as tomatoes, red cabbage, berries, and plums contain a large portion of non-vitamin A–active carotenoids. Legumes, grains, and seeds are also significant sources of carotenoids. Carotenoids are also found in various animal foods, such as salmon, egg yolks, shellfish, milk, and poultry. A variety of carotenoids is also found in carrot juice and “green drinks” made from vegetables, dehydrated barley greens, or wheat grass. Synthetic beta-carotene is available as a supplement. Mixed carotenoids (including the natural form of beta-carotene) are also available in supplements derived from palm oil, algae, and carrot oil.

Known Side Effect of Using Carotenoids

Carotenoids are generally regarded as safe, based primarily on studies with beta-carotene. Increased consumption of carotenoids may cause to the skin to turn orange or yellow a condition known as “carotenodermia.” This occurrence is completely benign and is unrelated to jaundice the yellowing of the skin that can result from liver disease or other causes. Until more is known, people especially smokers should not supplement with synthetic beta-carotene. Two double-blind studies have shown that supplementation with isolated synthetic beta-carotene may increase the risk of lung cancer in people who smoke. Moreover, three of four studies have found small increases in the risk of heart disease in people assigned to take synthetic beta-carotene compared with those assigned to take placebo. Certain medicines may interact with carotenoids. Refer to drug interactions for a list of those medicines.

The Phytobiophysics formulas are being used to help children at the Bentong Special Needs Centre in Malaysia.