Health aspects of carotenoids

In human nutrition, carotenoids play an important role as a source of provitamin A. In the gastrointestinal tract /3-carotene gets converted to vitamin A, which plays an important role in the regulation of vision, growth and reproduction (Ong and Choo, 1997). More recently, however, the protective effects of carotenoids against serious disorders such as cancer (Peto et al., 1981; Shekelle et al., 1981), heart disease, squamous cell carcinoma of the lung, oral tumours and degenerative eye disease have been recognized, and have stimulated intensive research into the role of carotenoids as antioxidants and as regulators of the immune response system. The antioxidant property of /3-carotene by its effective radical trapping was studied by Burton and Ingold (1984). Kunert and Tappel (1983) reported the efficient reduction of lipid peroxidation by prior treatment with /3-carotene in guinea pigs.

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