Carotenoids, chronic disease prevention and dietary recommendations

Torsten Bohn*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    20 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Carotenoids are C-30, C-40 or C-50 terpenoids produced by a number of bacteria, fungi, and plants. In addition to acting as vitamin A precursors such as β-carotene, their dietary intake and blood plasma/serum and tissue levels have been associated in several epidemiological studies to the reduced incidence of chronic diseases, including the reduction of type 2 diabetes and other cardiometabolic diseases, as well as some types of cancer. Lutein and zeaxanthin also appear to play a role in the amelioration of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the main cause of blindness in the elderly, and may be regarded as conditionally essential nutrients for the elderly. Furthermore, some studies have proposed that carotenoids may improve cognitive functions. Though the underlying mechanisms remain to be fully elucidated, it is perceived that direct antioxidant effects and protection from UV-light, as well as rather indirect effects, acting on transcription factors such as NF-кB, Nrf-2, and nuclear receptors such as RAR/RXR (retinoic acid receptor/retinoid X receptor), altering gene expression, all can play a role. Despite individual intervention trials suggesting negative effects of high doses of β-carotene on smokers, perhaps due to effects related to cytochrome enzyme activation, there is accumulating evidence that these colourful pigments indeed contribute to a healthy life and well-being. However, further research is warranted to better understand factors influencing variable inter-individual responses following carotenoid consumption and to establish more detailed recommendations regarding their dietary intake and toward establishing health claims.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)121-130
    Number of pages10
    JournalInternational Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research
    Volume87
    Issue number3-4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2017

    Keywords

    • Brain
    • Cardiovascular disease
    • Carotenes
    • Cellular signalling
    • Eye
    • Vitamin A
    • Xanthophylls

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