beta-Carotene

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Not to be confused with beta-keratin.
β-Carotene
Skeletal formula
Space-filling model
Names
IUPAC name
beta,beta-Carotene
Systematic IUPAC name
1,3,3-Trimethyl-2-[3,7,12,16-tetramethyl-18-(2,6,6-trimethylcyclohex-1-en-1-yl)octadeca-1,3,5,7,9,11,13,15,17-nonaen-1-yl]cyclohex-1-ene
Other names
Betacarotene, β-Carotene,[1] Food Orange 5, Provitamin A, 1,1'-(3,7,12,16-Tetramethyl-1,3,5,7,9,11,13,15,17-octadecanonaene-1,18-diyl)bis[2,6,6-trimethylcyclohexene]
Identifiers
3D model (Jmol)
ChEBI
ChemSpider
ECHA InfoCard 100.027.851
EC Number 230-636-6
E number E160a(i) (colours)
UNII
Properties
C40H56
Molar mass 536.89 g·mol−1
Appearance Dark orange crystals
Density 0.941 g/cm3[2]
Melting point 176–184 °C (349–363 °F; 449–457 K)
decomposes[2][4]
Boiling point 654.7 °C (1,210.5 °F; 927.9 K)
at 760 mmHg
Insoluble
Solubility Soluble in CS2, benzene, CHCl3, ethanol
Insoluble in glycerin
Solubility in dichloromethane 4.51 g/kg (20 °C)[3]
Solubility in hexane 0.1 g/L[2]
log P 14.764
Vapor pressure 2.71·10−16 mmHg[2]
1.565[2]
Pharmacology
A11CA02 (WHO) D02BB01 (WHO)
Hazards
Harmful Xn[2]
R-phrases R20/21/22, R36/37/38, R44
S-phrases S7, S15, S18, S26, S36
NFPA 704
Flammability code 1: Must be pre-heated before ignition can occur. Flash point over 93 °C (200 °F). E.g., canola oil Health code 0: Exposure under fire conditions would offer no hazard beyond that of ordinary combustible material. E.g., sodium chloride Reactivity code 0: Normally stable, even under fire exposure conditions, and is not reactive with water. E.g., liquid nitrogen Special hazards (white): no codeNFPA 704 four-colored diamond
Flash point 103 °C (217 °F; 376 K)[4]
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
N verify (what is YesYN ?)
Infobox references

β-Carotene is an organic, strongly colored red-orange pigment abundant in plants and fruits. It is a member of the carotenes, which are terpenoids (isoprenoids), synthesized biochemically from eight isoprene units and thus having 40 carbons. Among the carotenes, β-carotene is distinguished by having beta-rings at both ends of the molecule. β-Carotene is biosynthesized from geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate.[5]

β-Carotene is the most common form of carotene in plants. When used as a food coloring, it has the E number E160a.[6]:119 The structure was deduced by Karrer et al. in 1930.[7] In nature, β-carotene is a precursor (inactive form) to vitamin A via the action of beta-carotene 15,15'-monooxygenase.[5]

Isolation of β-carotene from fruits abundant in carotenoids is commonly done using column chromatography. It can also be extracted from the beta-carotene rich algae, Dunaliella salina.[8] The separation of β-carotene from the mixture of other carotenoids is based on the polarity of a compound. β-Carotene is a non-polar compound, so it is separated with a non-polar solvent such as hexane.[9] Being highly conjugated, it is deeply colored, and as a hydrocarbon lacking functional groups, it is very lipophilic.

Provitamin A activity[edit]

Plant carotenoids are the primary dietary source of provitamin A worldwide, with β-carotene as the most well-known provitamin A carotenoid. Others include α-carotene and β-cryptoxanthin. Carotenoid absorption is restricted to the duodenum of the small intestine and dependent on class B scavenger receptor (SR-B1) membrane protein, which are also responsible for the absorption of vitamin E (α-tocopherol).[10] One molecule of β-carotene can be cleaved by the intestinal enzyme β,β-carotene 15,15'-monooxygenase into two molecules of vitamin A.[11]

Absorption efficiency is estimated to be between 9 and 22%. The absorption and conversion of carotenoids may depend on the form of β-carotene (e.g., cooked vs. raw vegetables, or in a supplement), the intake of fats and oils at the same time, and the current stores of vitamin A and β-carotene in the body. Researchers list these factors that determine the provitamin A activity of carotenoids:[12]

  • Species of carotene
  • Molecular linkage
  • Amount in the meal
  • Matrix properties
  • Effectors
  • Nutrient status
  • Genetics
  • Host specificity
  • Interactions between factors

Symmetric and asymmetric cleavage[edit]

In the molecular chain between the two cyclohexyl rings, β-carotene cleaves either symmetrically or asymmetrically. Symmetric cleavage with the enzyme β,β-carotene-15,15'-dioxygenase requires the antioxidant α-tocopherol.[13] This symmetric cleavage gives two equivalent retinal molecules and each retinal molecule further reacts to give retinol (vitamin A) and retinoic acid. β-Carotene is also cleaved into two asymmetric products; the product is β-apocarotenal (8',10',12'). Asymmetric cleavage reduces the level of retinoic acid significantly.[14]

Conversion factors[edit]

Since 2001, the US Institute of Medicine uses retinol activity equivalents (RAE) for their Dietary Reference Intakes, defined as follows:[15]

Retinol activity equivalents (RAEs)[edit]

1 µg RAE = 1 µg retinol

1 µg RAE = 2 µg all-trans-β-carotene from supplements

1 µg RAE = 12 µg of all-trans-β-carotene from food

1 µg RAE = 24 µg α-carotene or β-cryptoxanthin from food

RAE takes into account carotenoids' variable absorption and conversion to vitamin A by humans better than and replaces the older retinol equivalent (RE) (1 µg RE = 1 µg retinol, 6 µg β-carotene, or 12 µg α-carotene or β-cryptoxanthin).[15] RE was developed 1967 by the United Nations/World Health Organization Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO/WHO).[16]

Another older unit of vitamin A activity is the international unit (IU). Like retinol equivalent, the international unit does not take into account carotenoids' variable absorption and conversion to vitamin A by humans, as well as the more modern retinol activity equivalent. Unfortunately, food and supplement labels still generally use IU, but IU can be converted to the more useful retinol activity equivalent as follows:[15]

International Units[edit]

1 µg RAE = 3.33 IU retinol

1 IU retinol = 0.3 μg RAE

1 IU β-carotene from supplements = 0.15 μg RAE

1 IU β-carotene from food = 0.05 μg RAE

1 IU α-carotene or β-cryptoxanthin from food = 0.025 μg RAE1

Dietary sources[edit]

Beta-carotene is found in many foods and is sold as a dietary supplement. β-Carotene contributes to the orange color of many different fruits and vegetables. Vietnamese gac (Momordica cochinchinensis Spreng.) and crude palm oil are particularly rich sources, as are yellow and orange fruits, such as cantaloupe, mangoes, pumpkin, and papayas, and orange root vegetables such as carrots and sweet potatoes. The color of β-carotene is masked by chlorophyll in green leaf vegetables such as spinach, kale, sweet potato leaves, and sweet gourd leaves.[17] Vietnamese gac and crude palm oil have the highest content of β-carotene of any known plant sources, 10 times higher than carrots, for example. However, gac is quite rare and unknown outside its native region of Southeast Asia, and crude palm oil is typically processed to remove the carotenoids before sale to improve the color and clarity.[18]

The average daily intake of β-carotene is in the range 2–7 mg, as estimated from a pooled analysis of 500,000 women living in the USA, Canada, and some European countries.[19]

The U.S. Department of Agriculture lists these 10 foods to have the highest β-carotene content per serving.[20]

Item Grams per serving Serving size Milligrams β-carotene per serving Milligrams β-carotene per 100 g
Carrot juice, canned 236 1 cup 22.0 9.3
Pumpkin, canned, without salt 245 1 cup 17.0 6.9
Sweet potato, cooked, baked in skin, without salt 146 1 potato 16.8 11.5
Sweet potato, cooked, boiled, without skin 156 1 potato 14.7 9.4
Spinach, frozen, chopped or leaf, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt 190 1 cup 13.8 7.2
Carrots, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt 156 1 cup 13.0 8.3
Spinach, canned, drained solids 214 1 cup 12.6 5.9
Sweet potato, canned, vacuum pack 255 1 cup 12.2 4.8
Carrots, frozen, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt 146 1 cup 12.0 8.2
Collards, frozen, chopped, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt 170 1 cup 11.6 6.8


Side effects[edit]

Excess β-carotene is predominantly stored in the fat tissues of the body. The most common side effect of excessive β-carotene consumption is carotenodermia, a physically harmless condition that presents as a conspicuous orange skin tint arising from deposition of the carotenoid in the outermost layer of the epidermis.[21] Adults' fat stores are often yellow from accumulated carotenoids, including β-carotene, while infants' fat stores are white. Carotenodermia is quickly reversible upon cessation of excessive intakes.[22]

Excessive intakes and vitamin A toxicity[edit]

The proportion of carotenoids absorbed decreases as dietary intake increases. Within the intestinal wall (mucosa), β-carotene is partially converted into vitamin A (retinol) by an enzyme, dioxygenase. This mechanism is regulated by the individual's vitamin A status. If the body has enough vitamin A, the conversion of β-carotene decreases. Therefore, β-carotene is considered a safe source of vitamin A and high intakes will not lead to hypervitaminosis A.

Drug interactions[edit]

β-Carotene can interact with medication used for lowering cholesterol. Taking them together can lower the effectiveness of these medications and is considered only a moderate interaction.[23] β-Carotene should not be taken with orlistat, a weight-loss medication, as orlistat can reduce the absorption of β-carotene by as much as 30%.[24] Bile acid sequestrants and proton-pump inhibitors can also decrease absorption of β-carotene.[25] Consuming alcohol with β-carotene can decrease its ability to convert to retinol and could possibly result in hepatotoxicity.[26]

β-Carotene and lung cancer in smokers[edit]

Chronic high doses of β-carotene supplementation increases the probability of lung cancer in smokers.[27] The effect is specific to supplementation dose as no lung damage has been detected in those who are exposed to cigarette smoke and who ingest a physiologic dose of β-carotene (6 mg), in contrast to high pharmacologic dose (30 mg). Therefore, the oncology from β-carotene is based on both cigarette smoke and high daily doses of β-carotene.[28]

Increases in lung cancer may be due to the tendency of β-carotene to oxidize,[29] and may hasten oxidation more than other food colors such as annatto. A β-carotene breakdown product suspected of causing cancer at high dose is trans-β-apo-8'-carotenal (common apocarotenal), which has been found in one study to be mutagenic and genotoxic in cell cultures which do not respond to β-carotene itself.[30]

Additionally, supplemental β-carotene may increase the risk of prostate cancer, intracerebral hemorrhage, and cardiovascular and total mortality in people who smoke cigarettes or have a history of high-level exposure to asbestos.[31]

Research[edit]

Medical authorities generally recommend obtaining beta-carotene from food rather than dietary supplements.[32] Research is insufficient to determine whether a minimum level of beta-carotene consumption is necessary for human health and to identify what problems might arise from insufficient beta-carotene intake,[33] although strict vegetarians rely on pro-vitamin A carotenoids to meet their vitamin A requirements. Use of beta-carotene to treat or prevent some diseases has been studied.

Cancer[edit]

A 2010 systemic meta review concluded that supplementation with β-carotene does not appear to decrease the risk of cancer overall, nor specific cancers including: pancreatic, colorectal, prostate, breast, melanoma, or skin cancer generally.[34] High levels of β-carotene may increase the risk of lung cancer in current and former smokers.[35] This is likely because beta-carotene is unstable in cigarette smoke-exposed lungs where it forms oxidized metabolites that can induce carcinogen-bioactivating enzymes.[36] Results are not clear for thyroid cancer.[37] In a single, small clinical study published in 1989, natural beta-carotene appeared to reduce premalignant gastric lesions.[33]:177

Cataract[edit]

A Cochrane review looked at supplementation of β-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E, independently and combined, on people to examine differences in risk of cataract, cataract extraction, progression of cataract, and slowing the loss of visual acuity. These studies found no evidence of any protective effects afforded by β-carotene supplementation on preventing and slowing age-related cataract.[38] A second meta-analysis compiled data from studies that measured diet-derived serum beta-carotene and reported a not statistically significant 10% decrease in cataract risk.[39]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  39. ^ Cui YH, Jing CX, Pan HW (2013). "Association of blood antioxidants and vitamins with risk of age-related cataract: a meta-analysis of observational studies". Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 98 (3): 778–86. doi:10.3945/ajcn.112.053835. PMID 23842458. 

External links[edit]