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Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals


Looking into the Future: A Week of Carotenoids

By Michael McBurney

The 17th International Symposium on Carotenoids begins today. The meeting brings together experts from around the world. Topics will range from spectroscopy and synthesis to photosynthesis and microbial production of carotenoids for human consumption and disease prevention. The themes are:

  •    - Carotenoids in the Eye and Brain
  •    - Chemical Synthesis, Analysis and Industrial Production
  •    - Carotenoid Metabolism and Function
  •    - Chronic Disease Prevention and Treatment
  •    - Photochemistry, Photophysics, and Photosynthesis
  •    - Biosynthesis and Metabolism
  •    - Epidemiology, Genetics and Nutrition

Over 600 carotenoids can be found in nature. Of these, 60 are absorbed. The most prevalent is beta-carotene.  Beta-carotene is a good source of vitamin A. There is some evidence that a lack of beta-carotene may contribute to lipid disorders and obesity.

Lycopene, found in tomatoes, has been associated with a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease. This may reflect the fact that water-soluble extracts of tomato improve platelet function.

And we cannot omit lutein and zeaxanthin, the only two dietary carotenoids to be concentrated in the retina of the eye. These antioxidants help protect the macula (the central part of the retina) from oxidative damage induced by exposure to light. They help maintain visual contrast acuity and visual performance. The Age-Related Eye Disease studies, AREDS and AREDS2 measured a 25% reduction in risk of progressing to advanced macular degeneration (AMD) in participants using a multivitamin and mineral supplement with lutein and zeaxanthin.

Attendees will learn the latest research findings on carotenoids: synthesis, metabolism and function in human health over the next week. Please follow #icsutah2014 on twitter for live updates from @DSMNutrition.