Marine Algae and Carotenoids

Carotenoids are naturally occurring compounds that are found in many fruits, vegetables and other plants including seaweeds and algae. Most of these are coloured from various yellows to reds and strong green colours. Carotenoids not only provide colour to plants they also provide them with antioxidant protection from free radicals which are formed when the plants are exposed to sunlight. Without carotenoids many plants would be destroyed once they received prolonged UV radiation in sunlight.

There are five naturally occurring carotenoids. These are beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, crypto xanthin, zeaxanthin and lutein. Beta-carotene and alpha-carotene are the best known of these and are safe sources of vitamin A. Carotenoids are approved for use in a number of food products and are certified for use as an ingredient in pharmaceuticals.

There are a number of sources of beta and alpha carotenes.

1      Synthenic – predominately all-trans beta-carotene can be made from petrochemicals.

2      Yeast Fermentation – predominately all-trans beta carotene can be extracted from the fermented fungus, Blakeslea Trispora.

3      Palm Oil – a natural mixture of alpha and beta carotene and the other lesser known carotenes extracted from the natural solvents in this oil.

4      Algae – a natural mixture of all-trans and cis beta carotenes are found in, and extracted from the algae, Dunaliella Salina

We use only the carotenes extracted from the single cell micro-algae Dunaliella Salina. The algae use the carotenes to protect them from the extreme harsh conditions, in which they live.

Dunaliella Salina is a photosynthetic cell which like nearly all life forms, requires sunlight to live. Although it is nearly always covered by sea water it needs the carotenoids to protect it from the UV light waves in sunlight. The carotenoids regulate the amount of light energy that the algae absorbs and protects it while it is exposed out of water. This allows the algae to survive even in the harshest conditions.

The algae are harvested, using environmentally sustainable methods from only two pristine sites within Australia.

The mixture of carotenoids in the harvested algae is approximately 65% all-trans beta carotene and 30% cis beta carotene and the remaining 5% a mixture of the remaining other carotenes. Special equipment has been designed to mill the algae into layered leaves of a specific particle size, shape and surface area. This allows the natural product to be cleaned and proprietary solutions to be used to protect and ensure its integrity.

The product once processed, is very stable and lasts over 24 months when stored below 30o in sealed containers. ZeoNutrient+ contains these carotenoids in the form of Provitamin A which has a neutral charge so it is not retained by the zeolite but released into the body.

Current Research

A large amount of studies have been conducted into the role of beta carotene when taken as a food additive or as a dietary supplement. There have been studies looking at the effect of increased intake of beta carotene and various carcinogenic effects on humans. [Astrog P. 1997].

There have been studies into the metabolism to retinol and retinoic acid with provitamin A carotenoids, Other studies have looked at the relationship between a decrease in risk of cataracts, and other age related macular degeneration and beta carotene [Scheidegger at al. 1998]. There has also been research indicating the antioxidant effects of beta carotene [Sies at al 1992; Burton G. W. 1989]

There are studies that link beta carotene to lipid peroxidation in human skin, either as a free radical scavenger or a lipoxgenase inhibitor [Bar-Natan R. et al 1996]. under construction.

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