β-Carotene is an organic, strongly colored red-orange pigment abundant in fungi, 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.
|Systematic IUPAC name
3D model (JSmol)
|E number||E160a (colours)|
CompTox Dashboard (EPA)
|Molar mass||536.888 g·mol−1|
|Appearance||Dark orange crystals|
|Melting point|| 183 °C (361 °F; 456 K) |
|Boiling point|| 654.7 °C (1,210.5 °F; 927.9 K) |
at 760 mmHg
|Solubility||Soluble in CS2, benzene, CHCl3, ethanol|
Insoluble in glycerin
|Solubility in dichloromethane||4.51 g/kg (20 °C)|
|Solubility in hexane||0.1 g/L|
|Vapor pressure||2.71·10−16 mmHg|
Refractive index (nD)
|A11CA02 (WHO) D02BB01 (WHO)|
|GHS Signal word||Warning|
|H315, H319, H412|
|P264, P273, P280, P302+352, P305+351+338, P321, P332+313, P337+313, P362, P501|
|NFPA 704 (fire diamond)|
|Flash point||103 °C (217 °F; 376 K)|
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
|what is ?)(|
β-Carotene is the most common form of carotene in plants. When used as a food coloring, it has the E number E160a.:119 The structure was deduced by Karrer et al. in 1930. In nature, β-carotene is a precursor (inactive form) to vitamin A via the action of beta-carotene 15,15'-monooxygenase.
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. 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. Being highly conjugated, it is deeply colored, and as a hydrocarbon lacking functional groups, it is very lipophilic.
Provitamin A activityEdit
Plant carotenoids are the primary dietary source of provitamin A worldwide, with β-carotene as the best-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 is also responsible for the absorption of vitamin E (α-tocopherol). One molecule of β-carotene can be cleaved by the intestinal enzyme β,β-carotene 15,15'-monooxygenase into two molecules of vitamin A.
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:
- Species of carotene
- Molecular linkage
- Amount in the meal
- Matrix properties
- Nutrient status
- Host specificity
- Interactions between factors
Symmetric and asymmetric cleavageEdit
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 an antioxidant such as α-tocopherol. 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.
Since 2001, the US Institute of Medicine uses retinol activity equivalents (RAE) for their Dietary Reference Intakes, defined as follows:
Retinol activity equivalents (RAEs)Edit
1 µg RE = 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). RE was developed 1967 by the United Nations/World Health Organization Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO/WHO).
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:
- 1 µg RAE = 3.33 IU retinol
- 1 IU retinol = 0.3 μg RAE
- 1 IU β-carotene from supplements = 0.3 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
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. 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.
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 US, Canada, and some European countries.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture lists these 10 foods to have the highest β-carotene content per serving.
|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|
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. 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.
Excessive intakes and vitamin A toxicityEdit
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.
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. 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%. Bile acid sequestrants and proton-pump inhibitors can also decrease absorption of β-carotene. Consuming alcohol with β-carotene can decrease its ability to convert to retinol and could possibly result in hepatotoxicity.
β-Carotene and lung cancer in smokersEdit
Chronic high doses of β-carotene supplementation increases the probability of lung cancer in smokers. 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.
Increases in lung cancer may be due to the tendency of β-carotene to oxidize, 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.
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.
Medical authorities generally recommend obtaining beta-carotene from food rather than dietary supplements. 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, 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.
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. High levels of β-carotene may increase the risk of lung cancer in current and former smokers. This is likely because beta-carotene is unstable in cigarette smoke-exposed lungs where it forms oxidized metabolites that can induce carcinogen-bioactivating enzymes. Results are not clear for thyroid cancer. In a single, small clinical study published in 1989, natural beta-carotene appeared to reduce premalignant gastric lesions.:177
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. 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.
Dispersed β-carotene molecules can be encapsulated into carbon nanotubes enhancing their optical properties. Efficient energy transfer occurs between the encapsulated dye and nanotube — light is absorbed by the dye and without significant loss is transferred to the nanotube. Encapsulation increases chemical and thermal stability of β-carotene molecules; it also allows their isolation and individual characterization.
- "SciFinder – CAS Registry Number 7235-40-7". Retrieved Oct 21, 2009.
- Haynes, William M., ed. (2011). CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics (92nd ed.). CRC Press. p. 3.94. ISBN 978-1439855119.
- β-carotene. chemister.ru
- Sigma-Aldrich Co., β-Carotene. Retrieved on 2014-05-27.
- Lee, Soo Chan; Ristaino, Jean B.; Heitman, Joseph (13 December 2012). "Parallels in Intercellular Communication in Oomycete and Fungal Pathogens of Plants and Humans". PLOS Pathogens. 8 (12): e1003028. doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1003028. PMC 3521652. PMID 23271965.
- Van Arnum, Susan D. (1998), "Vitamin A", Kirk-Othmer Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology, New York: John Wiley, pp. 99–107, doi:10.1002/0471238961.2209200101181421.a01, ISBN 978-0-471-23896-6
- Milne, George W. A. (2005). Gardner's commercially important chemicals: synonyms, trade names, and properties. New York: Wiley-Interscience. ISBN 978-0-471-73518-2.
- Karrer P, Helfenstein A, Wehrli H (1930). "Pflanzenfarbstoffe XXV. Über die Konstitution des Lycopins und Carotins". Helvetica Chimica Acta. 13 (5): 1084–1099. doi:10.1002/hlca.19300130532.
- States4439629 United States expired 4439629, Rüegg, Rudolf, "Extraction Process for Beta-Carotene", published March 27, 1984, assigned to Hoffmann-La Roche Inc.
- Mercadante AZ, Steck A, Pfander H (January 1999). "Carotenoids from guava (Psidium guajava l.): isolation and structure elucidation". Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 47 (1): 145–51. doi:10.1021/jf980405r. PMID 10563863.
- van Bennekum A, Werder M, Thuahnai ST, Han CH, Duong P, Williams DL, et al. (March 2005). "Class B scavenger receptor-mediated intestinal absorption of dietary beta-carotene and cholesterol". Biochemistry. 44 (11): 4517–25. doi:10.1021/bi0484320. PMID 15766282.
- Biesalski HK, Chichili GR, Frank J, von Lintig J, Nohr D (2007). "Conversion of β‐Carotene to Retinal Pigment". Conversion of β-carotene to retinal pigment. Vitamins & Hormones. 75. pp. 117–30. doi:10.1016/S0083-6729(06)75005-1. ISBN 978-0-12-709875-3. PMID 17368314.
- Tanumihardjo SA (January 2002). "Factors influencing the conversion of carotenoids to retinol: bioavailability to bioconversion to bioefficacy". International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research. 72 (1): 40–5. doi:10.1024/0300-98220.127.116.11. PMID 11887751.
- Lakshman MR (January 2004). "Alpha and omega of carotenoid cleavage". The Journal of Nutrition. 134 (1): 241S–245S. doi:10.1093/jn/134.1.241S. PMID 14704327.
- Kiefer C, Hessel S, Lampert JM, Vogt K, Lederer MO, Breithaupt DE, von Lintig J (April 2001). "Identification and characterization of a mammalian enzyme catalyzing the asymmetric oxidative cleavage of provitamin A". The Journal of Biological Chemistry. 276 (17): 14110–6. doi:10.1074/jbc.M011510200. PMID 11278918.
- Institute of Medicine (US) Panel on Micronutrients (2001). Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium and Zinc. (free download): National Academy Press. doi:10.17226/10026. ISBN 978-0-309-07279-3. PMID 25057538. S2CID 44243659.
- Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization (1967). Requirement of Vitamin A, Thiamine, Riboflavin and Niacin. FAO Food and Nutrition Series B. Rome.
- Kidmose U, Edelenbos M, Christensen LP, Hegelund E (October 2005). "Chromatographic determination of changes in pigments in spinach (Spinacia oleracea L.) during processing". Journal of Chromatographic Science. 43 (9): 466–72. doi:10.1093/chromsci/43.9.466. PMID 16212792.
- Mustapa AN, Manan ZA, Azizi CM, Setianto WB, Omar AM (2011). "Extraction of β-carotenes from palm oil mesocarp using sub-critical R134a" (PDF). Food Chemistry. 125: 262–267. doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2010.08.042. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-01-07.
- Koushik A, Hunter DJ, Spiegelman D, Anderson KE, Buring JE, Freudenheim JL, et al. (November 2006). "Intake of the major carotenoids and the risk of epithelial ovarian cancer in a pooled analysis of 10 cohort studies". International Journal of Cancer. 119 (9): 2148–54. doi:10.1002/ijc.22076. PMID 16823847.
- "USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 21". Retrieved 2009-07-24.
- Stahl W, Heinrich U, Jungmann H, von Laar J, Schietzel M, Sies H, Tronnier H, et al. (May 1998). "Increased dermal carotenoid levels assessed by noninvasive reflection spectrophotometry correlate with serum levels in women ingesting Betatene". The Journal of Nutrition. 128 (5): 903–7. doi:10.1093/jn/128.5.903. PMID 9567001.
- "Beta-carotene". DSM. Archived from the original on 2012-09-05. Retrieved 2011-12-28.
- Web MD. "Beta-Carotene Interactions". Retrieved 28 May 2012.
- University of Maryland Medical Center. "Possible Interactions with Beta-Carotene". Retrieved 29 May 2012.
- Meschino Health. "Comprehensive Guide to Beta-Carotene". Retrieved 29 May 2012.
- Leo MA, Lieber CS (June 1999). "Alcohol, vitamin A, and beta-carotene: adverse interactions, including hepatotoxicity and carcinogenicity". The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 69 (6): 1071–85. doi:10.1093/ajcn/69.6.1071. PMID 10357725.
- Tanvetyanon T, Bepler G (July 2008). "Beta-carotene in multivitamins and the possible risk of lung cancer among smokers versus former smokers: a meta-analysis and evaluation of national brands". Cancer. 113 (1): 150–7. doi:10.1002/cncr.23527. PMID 18429004.
- Russel, R.M. (2002). "Beta-carotene and lung cancer". Pure Appl. Chem. 74 (8): 1461–1467. CiteSeerX 10.1.1.502.6550. doi:10.1351/pac200274081461.
- Hurst JS, Saini MK, Jin GF, Awasthi YC, van Kuijk FJ (August 2005). "Toxicity of oxidized beta-carotene to cultured human cells". Experimental Eye Research. 81 (2): 239–43. doi:10.1016/j.exer.2005.04.002. PMID 15967438.
- Alija AJ, Bresgen N, Sommerburg O, Siems W, Eckl PM (May 2004). "Cytotoxic and genotoxic effects of beta-carotene breakdown products on primary rat hepatocytes". Carcinogenesis. 25 (5): 827–31. doi:10.1093/carcin/bgh056. PMID 14688018.
- Beta-carotene, MedlinePlus
- WebMD. "Find a Vitamin or Supplement – Beta Carotene". Retrieved 29 May 2012.
- Stargrove, Mitchell (2007-12-20). Herb, nutrient, and drug interactions : clinical implications and therapeutic strategies (1 ed.). Mosby. ISBN 978-0323029643.
- Druesne-Pecollo N, Latino-Martel P, Norat T, Barrandon E, Bertrais S, Galan P, Hercberg S (July 2010). "Beta-carotene supplementation and cancer risk: a systematic review and metaanalysis of randomized controlled trials". International Journal of Cancer. 127 (1): 172–84. doi:10.1002/ijc.25008. PMID 19876916.
- Misotti AM, Gnagnarella P (October 2013). "Vitamin supplement consumption and breast cancer risk: a review". Ecancermedicalscience. 7: 365. doi:10.3332/ecancer.2013.365. PMC 3805144. PMID 24171049.
- Russell RM (January 2004). "The enigma of beta-carotene in carcinogenesis: what can be learned from animal studies". The Journal of Nutrition. 134 (1): 262S–268S. doi:10.1093/jn/134.1.262S. PMID 14704331.
- Zhang LR, Sawka AM, Adams L, Hatfield N, Hung RJ (March 2013). "Vitamin and mineral supplements and thyroid cancer: a systematic review". European Journal of Cancer Prevention. 22 (2): 158–68. doi:10.1097/cej.0b013e32835849b0. PMID 22926510.
- Mathew MC, Ervin AM, Tao J, Davis RM (June 2012). "Antioxidant vitamin supplementation for preventing and slowing the progression of age-related cataract". The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 6 (6): CD004567. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD004567.pub2. PMC 4410744. PMID 22696344.
- Cui YH, Jing CX, Pan HW (September 2013). "Association of blood antioxidants and vitamins with risk of age-related cataract: a meta-analysis of observational studies". The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 98 (3): 778–86. doi:10.3945/ajcn.112.053835. PMID 23842458.
- Yanagi K, Iakoubovskii K, Kazaoui S, Minami N, Maniwa Y, Miyata Y, Kataura H (2006). "Light-Harvesting Function of β-Carotene Inside Carbon Nanotubes" (PDF). Phys. Rev. B. 74 (15): 155420. Bibcode:2006PhRvB..74o5420Y. doi:10.1103/PhysRevB.74.155420.
- Saito Y, Yanagi K, Hayazawa N, Ishitobi H, Ono A, Kataura H, Kawata S (2006). "Vibrational Analysis of Organic Molecules Encapsulated in Carbon Nanotubes by Tip-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy". Jpn. J. Appl. Phys. 45 (12): 9286–9289. Bibcode:2006JaJAP..45.9286S. doi:10.1143/JJAP.45.9286.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Carotenes.|
- USDA Webpage on β-carotene Content of Gac – Fatty Acids and Carotenoids in Gac (Momordica Cochinchinensis Spreng) Fruit.