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J Nutr. 1998 May;128(5):903-7.

Increased dermal carotenoid levels assessed by noninvasive reflection spectrophotometry correlate with serum levels in women ingesting Betatene.

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Institut für Physiologische Chemie I and Biologisch-Medizinisches Forschungszentrum, Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf, D-40001 Düsseldorf, Germany.


beta-Carotene is being used as an oral sun protectant, and evidence indicates that carotenoids may protect human skin from light-induced lesions. However, limited information is available on the distribution and accumulation of beta-carotene in skin, especially with respect to various skin regions. With the use of reflection spectroscopy, we investigated the accumulation of total carotenoids in human skin after repeated supplementation of 12 women with beta-carotene from a natural source Betatene, an algal extract. After daily ingestion of 24 mg beta-carotene (in Betatene) for 12 wk, an increase in carotenoid skin levels was observed. Highest basal values were measured in skin of the forehead, palm of the hand and dorsal skin, with lower levels measured in skin of the arm and back of the hand. Upon treatment, increases in carotenoid skin levels were found in all areas as follows: 2.4-fold in forehead, 0.7-fold in dorsal skin, 2.2-fold in the palm of the hand, 17-fold on the back of the hand and 1.7-fold on the inside of the arm. After cessation of treatment, the carotenoid levels decreased in all skin areas. Serum beta-carotene levels were elevated upon treatment and correlated with carotenoid skin levels. Correlations for serum vs. skin from the palm of the hand (r = 0.94) and skin from the forehead (r = 0.89) were calculated, indicating that serum levels appeared to be a suitable indicator for carotenoid accumulation in specific regions of the skin. With doses of approximately 20-25 mg carotenoids/d, it is possible to raise dermal carotenoid levels.

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