Carotenoids and Neurobiological Health
The consumption of carotenoid phytonutrients, largely as part of plant tissue, has been associated with a number of health benefits. Epidemiological and other studies support a link between higher dietary intake and tissue concentrations of carotenoids and lower risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. Evidence also suggests that increased levels of carotenoids can help maintain healthy cognitive function, especially into older age. Carotenoids mediate their beneficial effects via several mechanisms including cell growth regulation and modulation of gene expression and immune activity. However their primary protective mechanism is thought to be due to their potent antioxidant properties that effectively scavenge free radicals and reduce the risk of oxidative damage. This chapter discusses the impact of carotenoids on neurological health by first reviewing their chemical characteristics, dietary sources, and general mechanisms of action before examining in some detail the available evidence for a protective role for various carotenoids in neurodegenerative disease.
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