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Nutr Clin Care. 2002 Mar-Apr;5(2):56-65.

The role of carotenoids in human health.

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  • 1Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, Tufts University, 711 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02111, USA. ejohnson@hnrc.tufts.edu

Abstract

Dietary carotenoids are thought to provide health benefits in decreasing the risk of disease, particularly certain cancers and eye disease. The carotenoids that have been most studied in this regard are beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. In part, the beneficial effects of carotenoids are thought to be due to their role as antioxidants. beta-Carotene may have added benefits due its ability to be converted to vitamin A. Furthermore, lutein and zeaxanthin may be protective in eye disease because they absorb damaging blue light that enters the eye. Food sources of these compounds include a variety of fruits and vegetables, although the primary sources of lycopene are tomato and tomato products. Additionally, egg yolk is a highly bioavailable source of lutein and zeaxanthin. These carotenoids are available in supplement form. However, intervention trials with large doses of beta-carotene found an adverse effect on the incidence of lung cancer in smokers and workers exposed to asbestos. Until the efficacy and safety of taking supplements containing these nutrients can be determined, current dietary recommendations of diets high in fruits and vegetables are advised.

PMID:
12134711
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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