What is Carotenoid Complex?

Katie McFarlin

A carotenoid complex is a dietary supplement that contains several forms of carotene. Numerous scientific studies have found that carotenoids are beneficial for both health and immune function protection. By combining several of these in one carotenoid complex antioxidant supplement, it is believed that numerous health benefits can be recognized.

Powdered astaxanthin, a type of carotenoid.
Powdered astaxanthin, a type of carotenoid.

The main carotenoids are alpha carotene, beta carotene, lutein, lycopene, cryptoxanthin, zeazanthin and astaxanthin. A carotenoid complex supplement will typically contain at least the first four and several also contain the other advanced carotenoid complexes. Carotenoids are responsible for healthy immune function. They also supply vibrant color to the foods in which they naturally occur.

Cantaloupe gets its orange color from carotenoids.
Cantaloupe gets its orange color from carotenoids.

For example, beta carotene and alpha carotene are present in high quantities in carrots, yams and pumpkins. They also are responsible for the bright orange color of these popular foods. Lutein and lycopene are present in high amounts in tomatoes and help impart the vibrant red color in this fruit.

There are many sources of carotenoids in nature. The above mentioned foods have been found to be beneficial in helping maintain eyesight and strengthen the eye. Egg yolks also contain high levels of lutein and beta carotene and supply the same benefits. Typically, the best way for consumers to easily tell at a glance whether a food contains these carotenoid complexes is to look for any food that has a vibrant color.

Those who want the benefits of carotenoids but have a hard time eating these foods can get carotenoid complex supplements. These are manufactured to contain more carotenoids and are useful for larger doses. For example, to get the same amount of beta carotene in carotenoid complex caps, a person would have to eat several carrots or servings of pumpkin.

The scientific studies on carotenoids have been numerous. The findings have convinced the scientific community that there is a definite human benefit to these compounds. In a study published by the International Journal of Cancer in 2009, Dr. Laura I. Migone found that eating two servings of carotenoid-containing vegetables daily reduced the risk of breast cancer by 17 percent.

Another study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology in 2006 found that eating foods rich in lutein helped reduce the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The participants in the study were all under the age of 75. No data was available on whether the carotenoids helped reduce macular degeneration that was already present.

Tomatoes contain all four major carotenoids: alpha- and beta-carotene, lutein, and lycopene.
Tomatoes contain all four major carotenoids: alpha- and beta-carotene, lutein, and lycopene.

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