More About Carotenoids
A rainbow of health
From the tiniest microscopic organisms to the largest mountains on earth, nature offers an awe-inspiring array of colors and hues. Nowhere is this color palette more vibrant and varied than in plants and botanicals. But what gives the plants, fruits and vegetables we eat such rich, eye-pleasing color?
When it comes to red, orange and yellow hues the answer is a class of phytochemicals called carotenoids, a class of organic pigments that are naturally synthesized by plants and algae. Although there are more than 600 known carotenoids, the ones normally found in our diet include beta carotene, cryptoxanthin, lutein, lycopene, zeaxanthin, and astaxanthin. They’re classified into two categories, carotenes (beta carotene, lycopene) and xanthophylls (lutein, zeaxanthin).
Benefits of carotenoids
The carotenoids we obtain from our diet serve several important physiological roles. Some carotenoids are pro-vitamin A carotenoids, including alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin. When these carotenoids are ingested they’re converted to vitamin A in the body, which is important for overall growth and development, immune system function, and healthy vision.
Almost all carotenoids are free radical scavengers, helping to protect tissues from the damaging effects of oxidation. In addition, the molecular structure of carotenoids helps them to absorb light, especially blue light, which can be harmful to sensitive ocular structures. Carotenoids are also believed to assist intercellular communication by stimulating the production of certain proteins.
NOW® Carotenoid Supplements
- Astaxanthin – Astaxanthin is a naturally occurring carotenoid that, due to its unique structure, performs an important role in cellular free radical protection. NOW® Astaxanthin is derived from non-GMO Haematococcus pluvialis microalgae.
- Beta Carotene – Beta-Carotene is an essential nutrient found predominantly in algal species and in yellow, orange, and dark green vegetables. It is fat soluble and may serve as either an antioxidant or be converted to retinol (vitamin A) in the body based on physiological need.
- Lutein – Lutein is an orange-red carotenoid pigment and is one of the predominant pigments concentrated in the macula, a specialized area of the eye that is responsible for central vision. Lutein’s functional role is to protect against sunlight-induced free radical production.
- Lycopene – This powerful carotenoid is the natural pigment that gives tomatoes, watermelons, and pink grapefruits their characteristic red color. Clinical studies have shown that lycopene is a free radical scavenger that works through a number of mechanisms to support normal cardiovascular and immune system functions.
The NOW® Difference
These days it’s almost impossible to avoid some sort of daily exposure to environmental pollutants, chemicals and other substances that can generate free radicals in our body. Even the simple act of breathing generates these harmful rogue molecules.
But you can help minimize their impact on your body and your health with quality free radical-scavenging from NOW, including our selection of quality natural carotenoid supplements.
We choose only proven, natural free radical scavengers and antioxidants that are supported by research, and every product we produce is manufactured with our industry-leading attention to quality.