Carotenoids - Plant-derived Protective Pigments
Plants use them as attractive pigments for the bright yellows, oranges, and reds of fruits and flowers. The vibrant autumn foliage of deciduous trees is a result of these light-gathering pigments in photosynthesis. They produce some of the dramatic colors of bird plumage. And our ability to view these sights is due to their pivotal role in human vision. There are over 600 carotenoids in nature, several of which display a diversity of health-promoting activities.They are synthesized exclusively by plants and a number of microorganisms. This means that all higher organisms must obtain them from the diet. There is little mystery which foods are the best sources of carotenoids. Inasmuch as they are colorful pigments, they are usually found concentrated in fruits and vegetables of yellow, orange, and red hues, as well as dark green leaf vegetables. Carotenoids are lipid-soluble and are best absorbed when ingested with fats. Once absorbed, carotenoids are distributed throughout the body with different carotenoids being selectively distributed to specific tissues throughout the body.
Pro-Vitamin A & Antioxidant Functions
Carotenoids have two intrinsic biological functions: as vitamin A precursors and as lipid-soluble antioxidants. Retinol (vitamin A), the light gathering pigment in mammalian vision, can be derived from most, but not all, of the dietary carotenoids. Beta-carotene is a particularly good source in that theoretically each of its molecules can form two retinol molecules. Vitamin A deficiency is a cause of numerous vision-related problems.
Free carotenoids can react quickly with singlet oxygen and peroxyl radicals to form stable reaction products. In the environment of the cell membrane, they are among the most effective natural oxygen scavengers and are particularly well suited for protecting against lipid peroxidation.
CarotenAll - Strength in Numbers
Distinct carotenoids can exert their antioxidant activities synergistically with one another as well as with the tocopherols (vitamin E and its isomers). Carotenoids and tocopherols also can reduce the free radical forms of one another.
The components of CarotenAll have been selected from a host of well-studied carotenoids, each with unique tissue distribution and health-promoting activities:
Alpha- and beta-carotene are the paradigm for carotenoid functions they are distributed throughout the body and have been investigated in a wide range of biological roles, such as for improving lung function, serving as antioxidants, stimulating immune response and regulating cell death (apoptosis)
Lycopene, the red pigment in tomato and watermelon, is the most prominent carotenoid in the prostate and in blood serum. It is found concentrated in the testis, adrenal gland and liver. It is an excellent choice as a dietary lipid-soluble antioxidant. Lycopene is a more effective radical scavenger than are most other carotenoids and, because it cannot form vitamin A, dietary lycopene cannot be diverted to the synthesis of retinol. Lycopenes distinct tissue localization and potent radical scavenging ability has led to its being studied in protecting the skin against UV light, inhibiting LDL peroxidation, and maintaining prostate function
Lutein & Zeaxanthin
These oxygenated carotenoids (xanthophylls) are concentrated in the yellow macular pigment (MP) of the macula lutea in the retina of the eye. They are also present in outer rod cells. Lutein and Zeaxanthin (36% and 18% of the MP, respectively) are derived from the diet. Lutein may also be converted to the carotenoid mesozeaxanthin (18% of the MP) in the body. These three pigments absorb short-wave light (blue and UV), the wavelengths that cause the most retinal damage. As potential antioxidants, they may protect against oxidative damage in the retina, a tissue with large oxygen demands
Astaxanthin gives salmon flesh its pink color and is a very powerful scavenger of singlet oxygen. Laboratory studies have demonstrated that astaxanthin is 10 times more efficient as an antioxidant than are the other most potent carotenoids and nearly 100 times more effective than alpha-tocopherol (the most common form of vitamin E). Like lycopene, astaxanthin lacks pro-vitamin A activity in mammals. Unlike beta-carotene, it has the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier and thus it even may wield its antioxidant properties within the brain itself.
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