Reclaim your vitality with Carotenoids
InterClinical eNews January 2020, Issue 100
There are at least 600 known natural carotenoids but only those possessing a 3-hydroxy-epsilon end group have vitamin A activity. Beta carotene is a part of that group. Beta-carotene is the precursor of vitamin A – an essential vitamin for retinal function and mucosal protection in the body. Beta carotene also provides significant antioxidant support to the skin and the eyes where it is able to neutralise reactive oxygen species (ROS) and protect light exposed tissues. (1)
Dunaliella salina is well known as a good natural source of beta-carotene and mixed carotenoids, which also contains appreciable amounts of many other carotenoids including: alpha carotene, violaxanthin, neoxanthin, zeaxanthin and lutein as well as reasonable levels of chlorophyll. D salina has been found to have significantly superior antioxidant activity when compared to manufactured alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, zeaxanthin and lutein. (1,2)
Antioxidant Support for Overindulgence
Beta carotene shows promise as a natural source of antioxidants with hepatoprotective properties. When the liver is under stress from alcohol-related indulgence beta-carotene has been shown to help protect the activity of hepatic enzymes including catalase, peroxidase, and super oxide dismutase, which together help combat ROS in liver cells. (2,3)
Immune Stimulating Properties
In a large, cross-sectional placebo-controlled double-blinded study, 59 men were supplemented with 50 mg of beta carotene on alternate days for a decade. The results showed long-term beta-carotene supplementation enhanced NK cell activity in older men, which the researchers concluded, may be beneficial for viral and tumour surveillance. (4)
In a murine model of leukaemia, beta-carotene-rich D salina demonstrated a similar ability to increase levels of natural killer cell activity and to also speed up the ability of macrophages to phagocytose unwanted microorganisms. Additionally, it has been shown, in an experimentally-induced preclinical model of ulcerative colitis, to possess immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory properties. (1)
Preclinical studies showed beta carotene is able to slow dramatically the rate of tissue damage caused by virulent influenza leading the researchers to conclude it may offer a promising option for the prevention and treatment of influenza. (5)
Attenuating Alcoholic-induced Liver Damage
In a preclinical trial B-carotene was shown to be protective against alcohol-induced hepatic damage at a low dose of 0.52 mg/kg of body weight per day, B-carotene supplementation displayed hepatoprotective properties by inhibiting cellular death and helping prevent oxidative stress. In a similar animal experiment mixed carotenoids, at a moderate dose of 2.6 mg/kg of body weight per day, significantly decreased markers of alcohol induced liver inflammation including TNF alpha, peroxidised lipid and cytochrome c whilst simultaneously increasing the inhibition of apoptosis by upregulating the apotosis regulator gene BCL-2.
Therefore, at fairly low doses, beta carotene shows protective effects against alcohol-induced liver damage by improving antioxidant status whilst simultaneously inhibiting lipid peroxidation and cellular apoptosis. (6)
Weight loss & Carotenoids
Carotenoids have been considered to play a role in adipocyte metabolism. A recent, randomized, double-blind, six-month long pilot trial, examined the effect of mixed carotene on BMI and fat accrual in children. At the close of the study participants who received the mixed carotenoids had significantly lower BMI’s, lower subcutaneous fat and a lower waist-to-hip ratio and significantly higher levels of serum beta-carotene compared to controls. The researchers theorise that the anti-obesity effects were likely due to beta-carotene’s ability to reduce PPARy activity in adipocytes, leading to increased fat mobilisation and the switching of white fat cells to more metabolically active brown fat. (7)
In a recent randomised double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study, 51 participants with Type II diabetes (T2DM) received either beta-carotene dietary fortification for six weeks or an identical-looking sham. Beta carotene fortification at 0.05g three times a day was shown to significantly improve a raft of metabolic syndrome markers including insulin, cholesterol and antioxidant markers: insulin, HOMA-IR, HOMA-B, TG, VLDL & Total/HDL ratio, NO and GSH. (8)
In a longitudinal study of 2672 participants over a 12-year period, researchers looked at antioxidant status and obesity indices in post-menopausal women. Beta-carotene was found have a strongly inverse association with BMI, waist circumference and waist circumference to height ratio and positively associated with adiponectin. (9) The association of higher levels of beta-carotene with reduced adiposity measures may be explained by the associated upregulation of adiponectin. Adiponectin is an insulin-sensitising, anti-inflammatory, adipokine commonly found to be low in obesity and insulin resistance. (9)
Thus, mixed carotenoids rich in beta-carotene show immune stimulating, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. They have also been associated with weight loss over the short and the longer term, and have been shown to produce beneficial effects on a wide range of metabolic parameters. Together these properties make them an ideal tonic for aiding post-holiday recovery.
Dunaliella salina is an amazing superfood, natural medicine. It is an easy and effective way to clinically elevate carotenoid levels in the body, supporting general health and wellbeing. It is a source of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, essential fatty acids, electrolytes, polysaccharides, chlorophyll and phytonutrients.
- Tsushima M. et al. Inhibitory effect of natural carotenoids on Epstein-barr virus activation activity of a tumor promoter in raji cells. A screening study for anti-tumour promoters. Biological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin. 1995;18(2):227-33.
- Singh P, Baranwal M, Reddy SM. Antioxidant and cytotoxic activity of carotenes produced by Dunaliella salina under stress. Pharmaceutical biology. 2016;54(10):2269-75.
- Madkour FF, Abdel-Daim MM. Hepatoprotective and antioxidant activity of Dunaliella salina in paracetamol-induced acute toxicity in rats. Indian journal of pharmaceutical sciences. 2013;75(6):642.
- Santos MS, Meydani SN, Leka L, Wu D, Fotouhi N, Meydani M, Hennekens CH, Gaziano JM. Natural killer cell activity in elderly men is enhanced by betacarotene supplementation. The American journal of clinical nutrition. 1996;64(5):772-7.
- Sukhinin VP, Zarubaev VV, Platonov VG, Avtushenko SS. Effect of liposomal beta-carotene on experimentally lethal influenza infection. Voprosy virusologii. 1999;44(4):163-7.
- Tu Y, Zhu S, Wang J, Burstein E, Jia D. Natural compounds in the chemoprevention of alcoholic liver disease. Phytotherapy Research. 2019;33(9) 2192- 212.
- Canas JA, Lochrie A, McGowan AG, Hossain J, Schettino C, Balagopal PB. Effects of mixed carotenoids on adipokines and abdominal adiposity in children: a pilot study. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. 2017;102(6):1983-90.
- Asemi Z, Alizadeh SA, Ahmad K, Goli M, Esmaillzadeh A. Effects of betacarotene fortified synbiotic food on metabolic control of patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus: a double-blind randomized cross-over controlled clinical trial. Clinical nutrition. 2016;35(4):819-25.
- Kabat GC, Heo M, Ochs-Balcom HM, LeBoff MS, Mossavar-Rahmani Y, Adams-Campbell LL, Nassir R, Ard J, Zaslavsky O, Rohan TE. Longitudinal association of measures of adiposity with serum antioxidant concentrations in postmenopausal women. European journal of clinical nutrition. 2016; 70(1):47.
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