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Monday, March 12, 2012

[AlternativeAnswers] The Carotenoid Family: Lutein


Good Morning!

The Carotenoid Family: Lutein

Carotenoids, of which beta-carotenes are the most popular, are found in many fruits and vegetables, animals, plants and microorganisms. The body converts beta carotene into Vitamin A. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin essential for vision, growth, cell division, reproduction and immunity. Among the 600 or more carotenoids in foods, beta-carotene, lycopene, and lutein are well-known leaders in the fight to reduce the damage from free radicals.

Lutein is another carotenoid found in vegetables and fruits. Lutein acts as an antioxidant, protecting cells against the damaging effects of free radicals. The central area of the retina in humans and primates is called the macula and contains lutein as the primary carotenoid.
Lutein acts to filter and shield harmful blue light from the eye and may decrease the risk of developing macular degeneration, the eye disease that afflicts one in three people over age 65. [20].

Smokers who consumed the most beta-carotene and flavonoids from food, also appeared to cut their Alzheimer's risk. [14]. Yet, smokers who take excessive beta carotene supplements may increase their risk of lung cancer. [33].

A recent study has also shown the risk of osteoperosis with excessive Vitamin A. Retinol is the direct form of vitamin A found in most multivitamins, cod liver oil, liver, fortified foods, and whole milk products. Dietary retinol is associated with fractures, beta carotene is not. Beta carotene, which is converted to Vitamin A by the body, is not associated with any increased risk of fracture. [34]. This study has shown that intake of vitamin A or beta carotene, can be best obtained by eating more red and yellow vegetables than taking supplements.

The recommended safe upper limit of retinol is 3000 mcg (9900 IU) per day. This includes all sources of retinol, including foods such as liver, dietary supplements such as cod liver oil and vitamin A supplements, fortified foods such as cereals, and multivitamins.

Foods high in carotenoids include red, orange, deep-yellow, and some dark-green leafy vegetables, such as tomatoes, carrots, cantaloupe, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, winter squash, brussel sprouts, spinach, kale and broccoli.

Andrew Pacholyk MS L.Ac
Therapies for healing
mind, body, spirit


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