Carotenoids are pigments found in plants and other organisms such as algae and some species of fungi and bacteria that carry out photosynthesis. These pigments play a dual role: to absorb energy from sunlight during photosynthesis and to protect plant cells from photodamage.
Carotenoids are a large group of more than 600 different biochemicals. Some of these molecules are provitamin A and have a range of diverse biological functions in relation to human health. There are more than 400 carotenoids found in nature and Beta-carotene is perhaps the most important one. Beta-carotene is used in food industry as a colouring additive, antioxidant and as provitamin A.
The unicellular microalga, Dunaliella salina is one of the natural sources of Natural Mixed Carotenoids. It accumulates massive amounts of Beta-carotene. The Beta-carotene synthesis increases with the unbalanced physiological conditions of cell, created due to various stress factors. A normal cell has a condition of physiological balance. Under stress conditions this balance is disturbed, such as formation of excessive tee radicals. In order to protect and continue growth, the cells are known to generate additional Beta-carotene under stressed conditions. The pigment has antioxidant property that quenches excessive free radicals, restoring the physiological balance.
Natural Beta-carotene functions in two ways
This dual function of Natural Beta-carotene is due to the presence of Cis and Trans Beta-carotene Isomers.
Natural Beta-carotene is readily converted by the body into vitamin A and thus plays an essential role in vision, growth, reproduction and regulation of the immune system and in helping maintain the health and integrity of the skin and mucous membranes. However, while high doses of vitamin A can be toxic, Beta-carotene is only converted to vitamin A by the body as required, thus making it non-toxic and safe.