What Are Carotenoids:
Carotenoids are organic pigments that are naturally occurring in plants and some other photosynthetic organisms like algae, some types of fungus and some bacteria.
There are over 600 known carotenoids; they are split into two classes, xanthophylls and carotenes.
- Carotenoids with molecules containing oxygen, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, are known as xanthophylls.
- The unoxygenated (oxygen free) carotenoids such as alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and lycopene are known as carotenes.
Probably the most well-known carotenoid is the one that gives this second group its name, carotene, found in carrots (also apricots) and responsible for their bright orange colour. Crude palm oil, however, is the richest source of carotenoids in nature.
- Preventing Vitamin A Deficiency
- Immune Booster
- Appear to participate in female reprodution.
Signs of Deficiency:
- Dry, scaly skin
- Poor vision (especially at night times)
- Predisposition to infections (particularly lungs, ailmentary canal and urinary tract).
Health Conditions That May Be Prevented or Improved With Beta Carotene:
- Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
- Age-related macular degeneration
- Angina pectoris
- Cervical cancer
- Cervical dysplasia
- Chlamydial infection
- Heart disease
- Laryngeal cancer (cancer of the larynx)
- Lung cancer
- Male and female infertility
- Prostate cancer
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Skin cancer
- Vaginal candidiasis
Some Food Sources of:
For beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin:
- Sweet potatoes contain
Best sources of lutein:
- Collard greens
- Pink Grapefruit
Impact of Cooking, Storage and Processing:
In certain cases, cooking can improve the availability of carotenoids in foods. For example, the availability of lycopene from tomato products is increased when the foods are processed at high temperatures. As a result, your body absorbs the lycopene in canned, pasteurized tomato juice more easily than the lycopene in a fresh tomato. In addition, lightly steaming carrots and spinach improves your body’s ability to absorb the carotenoids in these foods.
It is important to note, however, that in most cases, prolonged cooking of vegetables decreases the availability of carotenoids.
Factors That Affect Function:
Carotenoids are fat-soluble substances, and as such require the presence of dietary fat for proper absorption through the digestive tract. Consequently, your carotenoid status may be impaired by a diet that is extremely low in fat or if you have a medical condition that causes a reduction in the ability to absorb dietary fat such as pancreatic enzyme deficiency, Crohn’s disease, celiac sprue, cystic fibrosis, surgical removal of part or all of the stomach, gall bladder disease, and liver disease.
High intake of carotenoid-containing foods or supplements is not associated with any toxic side effects. As a result, the Institute of Medicine at the National Academy of Sciences did not establish a Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) for carotenoids when it reviewed these compounds in 2000.
However, the results of two research studies indicate that those who smoke heavily and drink alcohol regularly, may increase their chance of developing lung cancer and/or heart disease if they take beta-carotene supplements in amounts greater than 20-30 milligrams per day.
Recommended Daily Allowances:
To date, no recommended dietary intake levels have been established for carotenoids.