November 9, 2007

The Benefits of Beta Carotene & Lutein – From Cancer to Macular Degeneration

Fruit and vegetables - sources of beta-carotene and lutein. Photo courtesy of USDA, Agricultural Research ServiceThe Benefits of Beta Carotene & Lutein – From Cancer to Macular Degeneration - Carotenoids are fat-soluble pigments responsible for many of the colorful hues of plant leaves, fruits, and flowers.

They also act as biological antioxidants, protecting cells and tissues from damage caused by naturally occurring oxygen free radicals in the body. And they’ve been linked to enhancing immune system function, protecting from sunburn, and inhibiting development of certain cancers.

Beta-carotene and lutein are two important carotenoids. Not only does beta-carotene give carrots their orange color, it may also be an important means of lessening the vitamin A deficiency prevalent in much of the world.

Lutein, a major yellow pigment in corn and leafy green vegetables, is believed to protect the human retina’s macular region, reducing risk of the macular degeneration responsible for the most common age-related blindness.

Using isotopes to tag carotenoids in kale, a food especially rich in nutrients, researchers have increased their understanding of how the human body absorbs and uses carotenoids from a whole food and how efficiently the body uses beta-carotene to form vitamin A.

The work was reported in the Journal of Lipid Research.

Source: USDA, Agricultural Research Service. Beverly A. Clevidence, USDA-ARS Diet and Human Performance Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland; phone (301) 504-8367. Photo courtesy of USDA, Agricultural Research Service. Used with permission.

Related articles:

Natural vitamin E has roughly twice the availability of synthetic vitamin E

Vitamin E – Cancer, Alzheimer’s and Heart Disease - Alpha or Gamma?

Copyright 2007 Kevin Flatt. Reproduction of any information on other websites is PROHIBITED.

Disclaimer: The information and opinions on this website is for information purposes only and is believed to be accurate and sound, based on the best judgment available to the author. Readers should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being. Readers who fail to consult appropriate health authorities assume the risk of any injuries.