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The importance of carotenoids

They possess antioxidant functions and can contribute to eye health, but their effects of supplements are controversial

carotenoidi-web.jpgThere are some nutrients that our body cannot synthesize and their intake through nutrition is essential. Among these are carotenoids [including beta-carotene, an important precursor of vitamin A], natural pigments that are found in most fruit and vegetables (especially those that are yellow-orange-red in colour), in plants and algae.

A new Swiss-Dutch study focuses on their potential benefits for human health, particularly on the protective effects of lutein and zeaxanthin (two types of carotenoids), which can help protect the retina from age-related macular degeneration, “an intake recommendation would help to generate awareness in the general population to have an adequate intake of lutein rich foods”, the authors write in Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics.

In addition to benefiting eye health, carotenoids are thought also to improve cognitive functions and cardiovascular health and may even help prevent some forms of cancer. However, according to researchers, at present, studies on their potential benefits through the intake of food supplements have produced controversial results. Therefore further scientific studies will be necessary in this direction.

Source: Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics

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