Carotenoids, of which Beta-carotene is one, are powerful antioxidants. This means they fight the effect that oxygen has on certain parts of the body, i.e. rust.
β-Carotene, in particular, is an orange photosynthetic pigment that is very important for photosynthesis. It is responsible for the orange color in carrots and many other fruits and vegetables (Beecher, 1999). It also has a sick-looking name.
β-Carotene is a ‘precursor’ of vitamin A. This means that the human body converts β-carotene into vitamin A after some natural processes.
Health Benefits to Carotenoids
There are so many health benefits to these we should be consuming them on everything, like sugar sprinkles.
First, studies show that antioxidant substances help in protecting the body from degenerative diseases (Beecher, 1999).
Second, even more recent studies have shown the correlation between a diet rich in carotenoids (like β-carotene and lycopene) and a diminishing risk of cardiovascular disease and cancers.
Lastly, there are even more reports confirming that a lower incidence of age-related chronic diseases is associated with consumption of carotene-rich vegetables.
And what is our favorite carotene-rich vegetable? You guessed it – seaweeds!
Seaweeds as Carotenoids
Ultimately, a lot of studies have demonstrated the antioxidant properties of algal carotenoids (that is, β-carotene et al.) and the role they play in preventing many problems linked to oxidative stress (Burtin, 2003).
Oxidative stress is the term used when your body has too many oxidants and not enough antioxidants – or, as I call it, a disturbance of the Force.
To fight this imbalance it is necessary to consume more antioxidants to help the body. Simply put, seaweeds are the main dietary source of vitamins and phytochemicals out there (Sangeetha, 2009).
Let us break them down for you:
- Brown seaweeds are particularly rich in carotenoids, especially in fucoxanthin, β-carotene and violaxanthin.
- Red algae’s main carotenoids are β-carotene and α-carotene. Lots of species of red seaweed were recently found to have 5.4 mg of β-carotene per 100 g of seaweed, which is a relatively high level compared to other vegetables (MacArtain, et al., 2007).
- The carotenoid composition of the green algae is similar to that of higher plants, and its main carotenoid is the β-carotene (Burtin, 2003).
In summation, algae’s got your back.
About Beta-Carotene and Vitamin A
- Why Do We Need Vitamin A?
We need vitamin A for healthy skin and mucous membranes (found in noses, mouths, eyelids, lungs, etc), for a strong immune system, and good eye health and vision.
- What is up between β -Carotene and Vitamin A?
Well, as stated above, the human body converts β-carotene into vitamin A. So, through β-carotene, we can source Vitamin A out of the food we eat. Two for the price of one!
- Excess Vitamin A and Toxicity
The advantage of getting your β-carotene from your diet is that the body will only convert as much β-carotene as it needs, and not a drop more.
This is great because excess of vitamin A is a thing that does happen – and it is toxic. When you consume too many supplements, intoxication can occur. Just remember: to avoid it, it is best to get your β-carotene from food (Nordqvist, 2014).
References Beecher, GR (1999). Phytonutrients’ role in metabolism: effects on resistance to degenerative processes. Nutr Rev 57 : S3-S6. Burtin, P. (2003). Nutritional value of seaweeds. Electronic journal of Environmental, Agricultural and Food chemistry, 2(4), 498-503. MacArtain, P., Gill, C. I., Brooks, M., Campbell, R., & Rowland, I. R. (2007). Nutritional value of edible seaweeds. Nutrition reviews, 65(12), 535-543. Nordqvist, C. (2017). All you need to know about beta carotene. Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/252758.php Sangeetha, R. K., Bhaskar, N., & Baskaran, V. (2009). Comparative effects of β-carotene and fucoxanthin on retinol deficiency induced oxidative stress in rats. Molecular and cellular biochemistry, 331(1-2), 59.