Carotene is a yellow-orange plant pigment and a precursor of vitamin A. when ingested by enzymes and salts, it forms retinol. Indications for the intake of provitamin A and its daily rate is different for people of different ages. Information about carotene, the benefits and harms of this substance for the human body will be useful for everyone.
Carotene — what is it
Substance with the Latin name carota (“carrot») it is a plant pigment related to unsaturated hydrocarbons and carotenoids. This term was proposed by the chemist Wackenrodemr in the early 19th century, when this substance was first isolated from carrots.
Many people believe that carotene is vitamin A. however, scientists have determined that this plant substance is a precursor, or provitamin A, i.e. it is converted to it as a result of a chemical reaction in the human body. In nature, the main sources of pigment are the leaves and fruits of many plants. The substance does not dissolve in water, but can be broken down using organic liquids and fats.
In industrial production, the pigment is extracted from algae, fungi, and bacteria by chemical synthesis. Vitamin A itself is an important substance involved in the development of human cells. It affects the formation of cells in most organs (kidneys, liver, muscles), improves vision and strengthens the immune system.
Scientists were able to synthesize plant pigment in the 1950s. The resulting substance had low effectiveness and caused the development of allergies to beta-carotene, so it is rarely used in the production of medicines and food products.
What is carotene for in the body?
The pigment helps to bind and remove harmful radicals, which helps to reduce the impact of external adverse factors associated with poor environmental conditions (radiation, chemical oxides). It helps strengthen the immune system, reduces the risk of infection, and improves resistance to stress and nervous tension.
The pigment exists in 4 isomers: alpha, beta, gamma, and Delta. The most useful of them, doctors consider the beta form, which when broken down forms 2 molecules of retinol, or vitamin A, other isomers — only one. The natural dye carotene E160A is officially registered and is used in the food industry in the production of yoghurts, fermented milk and confectionery products.
This pigment helps reduce the level of cholesterol in the blood, which accumulates in the body after eating certain foods (semi-finished products, yoghurts and mayonnaise, juices, etc.). it effectively prevents the formation of cholesterol plaques in blood vessels.
Medicinal properties, or how useful carotene is for the human body:
- it has a beneficial effect on the cardiovascular system, reduces the risk of strokes and heart attacks;
- a protective agent for cells that helps prevent the penetration of viruses and bacteria;
- reduces the level of cholesterol in blood, strengthens blood vessels;
- it has a beneficial effect on vision, helps to slow down the development of eye diseases (glaucoma and cataracts);
- increases the resistance of the body and tissues to the action of inflammatory processes;
- improves women’s and men’s health by taking part in progesterone synthesis;
- strengthens bone tissue, helps fight osteoporosis;
- increases the production of mucus that helps to protect the tissues from drying out;
- helps strengthen tooth enamel, eliminates inflammatory and other diseases of the oral mucosa and gums;
- when there is a lack of oxygen in the body, it helps to adapt to hypoxia, stimulating the supply of energy to tissues;
- helps to rejuvenate the skin, increases its firmness and elasticity, protects against the effects of ultraviolet light;
- improves the condition of the hair, adding smoothness and Shine.
Daily intake for women, men and children
The use of food products of plant origin containing this pigment is recommended by doctors in any amount. Excess carotene in the body when it comes with food does not cause harm, because it is well absorbed and accumulates in fat cells.
The amount of pigment and vitamins in vegetables and fruits depends on the variety, season, storage conditions, and cooking method. Experts recognize the daily norm of pigment for an adult equal to 5-6 mg, but with physical exertion or pregnancy, the need for its consumption increases dramatically. Therefore, women who are carrying a child are recommended to take vitamin A in the form of its provitamin. In this situation, it is impossible to develop hypervitaminosis, which is dangerous for the development of the fetus.
The daily value of vitamin A (retinol) is calculated using the formula: 1 mcg = 12 mcg of the beta-isomer. In 2001, the American Institute of medicine introduced a new unit of calculation equivalent to the activity of retinol RAE. 1 unit of RAE = 1 mcg of retinol = 2 mcg of the beta form as a medical product.
The daily requirement for vitamin a intake depends on the age of the person:
- Age daily value of retinol, mg Maximum amount when the substance becomes toxic
- Preschool children 0.4 0.6
- Teenagers 0,4-0,7 0,9-1,7
- More than 14 years and adults to 1.0 2.8 to 3.0
- Pregnant women 0.2-0.8 3.0
- Nursing women 0.4-1.2
Experts advise to divide the daily rate of pigment into 3 doses, then the substance is better absorbed.
Contraindications to the intake of carotene
This pigment, used as a dietary Supplement, has some restrictions in the indications for use. It is contraindicated in the following diseases:
- chronic alcoholism and intoxication;
- allergic to carotene;
- hypothyroidism (lack of thyroid hormones);
- renal failure and impaired renal function;
- diseases of the pancreas and liver, viral hepatitis.
Also, doctors do not recommend taking retinol as a medical product because of the increased risk of lung cancer for some categories of people:
- chronic smokers;
- abuse alcohol;
- employees of the asbestos industry.
Lack of vitamin
This plant-based pigment can accumulate in the liver, as well as in the kidneys and adipose tissue. The content of the substance can be identified by the level of carotene in the blood — if the indicator is less than 10 mcg/DL, beriberi is diagnosed. Provitamin and vitamin a deficiencies are often diagnosed in adults and children.
The lack of this substance in the body is classified into 2 types:
- primary-develops due to poor nutrition, frequent diseases, in children – with early termination of breastfeeding;
- secondary — occurs due to a chronic violation of lipid metabolism or the harmful effects of oxidants when drinking alcohol and Smoking.
Causes of substance deficiency and symptoms of deficiency
Since the pigment belongs to substances that can be dissolved in fat-containing liquids, its absorption into tissue cells decreases with a decrease in the intake of fat from food.
The main symptoms of provitamin and vitamin a deficiency are as follows:
- “chicken blindness — – reduced visual acuity in the dark;
- follicular keratosis is a dermatological disease in which dry bumps of beige or red color appear on the skin in the forearms and thighs (less often on the face), which create a feeling of “coarsening” and the appearance of ” goose bumps»;
- hair loss and thinning, increased dryness, dandruff, delamination and brittle nails;
poor condition of tooth enamel, increased sensitivity of teeth;
- frequent colds and chronic disease of the respiratory organs because of lower immunity;
reduced bone strength and stunting of the child;
- the formation of cataracts or ulcers in the eyes due to the drying of the cornea.
Carotene upports the performance of all body functions and helps to lead an active lifestyle
Carotene, alpha -, beta-carotene, vitamin A and provitamin A … comparison
The term “carota” is used for a whole group of substances that have the chemical formula C40H56 and belong to the unsaturated hydrocarbons of the carotenoid group. The table provides basic information about carotene: what it is, its forms, and the beneficial and harmful effects of each of them.
Shape peculiarities and differences of the Benefits and harms the a-isomer of the Molecule a and b are identical and differ only in the position of the double bonds in the end fragment of the molecule.
A safe food additive is obtained from plants (used in confectionery, juices, fermented milk products) or synthesized chemically. They are added to mayonnaise, soft drinks, and margarine.
A high concentration of a-form in the blood reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases and cancer.
the b-isomer (provitamin of vitamin A) Substance has an adaptogenic, anti-aging and antioxidant effect. Its absorption by the body increases with the simultaneous use of fat and tocopherol.
the γ-, δ -, ε -, and ζ-forms are Practically not used.
Vitamin A (retinol) It is similar in structure to beta carotene. It can be produced in the human body, affects the growth of cells in organs (liver, heart, etc.). Retinol improves vision and bone health, has a beneficial effect on the health of the skin, nails and hair, increases immunity and the activity of sex hormones.
When received in excess, it causes hypervitaminosis, and in pregnant women — developmental disorders and fetal pathology.
Carotene the pharmaceutical industry produces a wide range of medical products containing carotene
Medications and dietary SUPPLEMENTS containing vitamin A and beta-carotene should be taken for hypovitaminosis and to increase immunity during the cold season. They are indicated for children and adults with increased mental or physical activity, during epidemics of infectious and viral diseases.
Doctors recommend taking these medications after surgery for a speedy recovery. As an antioxidant, experts recommend taking it for people who work in harmful and chemical production or residents of large cities.
Medications are available in the following forms: tablets, capsules, drops, syrup.
The most popular medications:
Oxylic-a complex vitamin preparation with high efficiency;
Picotin — multivitamin means with alpha-carotene, lutein, etc.;
Tamagawadai — contains Pro-vitamin a and sea-buckthorn;
Vitrum with provitamin A and folic acid;
Vetoron-drops recommended for use in epidemics, eye diseases and as an additional tool in the treatment of atherosclerosis, when undergoing chemotherapy;
Solgar is an American zinc Supplement containing alpha-and beta-carotenes;
Antioxidant — vitamin-a drug, which includes Pro-vitamin a, ascorbic acid, zinc oxide and other components;
Synergin-dietary SUPPLEMENT, contains provitamin A, coenzyme, lycopene.
Method of application and dosage
Exact recommendations for the use of each carotene-containing drug are given in the instructions. Most dietary SUPPLEMENTS and medications are recommended to take 1 tablet (capsule) per day for 25-30 days.
Overabundance of vitamin A, carotene…
In the process of assimilation, the beta-isomer is converted into a useful substance — retinol. A sharp increase in its content in the blood (more than 400 micrograms per 100 ml) may occur due to excessive intake of pigment from food or after taking carotene-containing medications.
When consuming a large number of products with this pigment, yellowing of the skin on the palms or feet may occur — carotene hyperchromia of the skin. Hypercarotenemia, or pseudoculture is seen as a normal reaction of the body to the flow of pigment.
In contrast to the disease of jaundice, carotenemia does not stain the sclera and mucous membranes, and when you stop taking carotene-containing food, the yellowness disappears.