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Functional properties of carotenoids originating from algae


Correspondence to: Efterpi Christaki, Laboratory of Animal Nutrition, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Campus of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, TK 54124, Thessaloniki, Greece. E-mail:


Carotenoids are isoprenoid molecules which are synthesised de novo by photosynthetic plants, fungi and algae and are responsible for the orange, yellow and some red colours of various fruits and vegetables. Carotenoids are lipophilic compounds, some of which act as provitamins A. These compounds can be divided into xanthophylls and carotenes. Many macroalgae and microalgae are rich in carotenoids, where these compounds aid in the absorption of sunlight. Industrially, these carotenoids are used as food pigments (in dairy products, beverages, etc.), as feed additives, in cosmetics and in pharmaceuticals, especially nowadays when there is an increasing demand by consumers for natural products. Production of carotenoids from algae has many advantages compared to other sources; for example, their production is cheap, easy and environmentally friendly; their extraction is easier, with higher yields, and there is no lack of raw materials or limited seasonal variation. Recently, there has been considerable interest in dietary carotenoids with respect to their antioxidant properties and their ability to reduce the incidence of some chronic diseases where free radicals are involved. Possibly, carotenoids protect cells from oxidative stress by quenching singlet oxygen damage with various mechanisms. Therefore, carotenoids derived from algae could be a leading natural resource in the research for potential functional ingredients. Copyright © 2012 Society of Chemical Industry

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