Carotenoids, apart from existing in the plants, they are also found in animals such as crustaceae, feathers and skins of many birds. The table below summarizes the important functions of carotenoids in living organisms [1].

Living Organisms Essential Functions of Carotenoids

Plants

Plants use carotenoids as photosynthetic accessory pigments to absorb light.  The pigments regulate the flow of energy in the photosynthetic system by either absorbing light energy for photosynthesis, or conferring photoprotection by removing excess energy to minimize damage to plant cells or membranes.

Animals

Animals do not synthesize carotenoids. They obtain carotenoids via diets and these carotenoids are critical for:-

  1. Survival – Promoting healthy immune system in fishes and birds;

  2. Avoid Predation – Some animals change their skin colors in order to blend into their surroundings better to avoid preys such as chameleon and flamingo;

  3. Reproduction – colorful feathers in birds such as house finch appear more sexually attractive

Human

Human cannot produce carotenoids but can obtain through dietary intakes. Carotenoids function as :-

  1. Source of pro-vitamin A- prevent night blindness and boost immunity;

  2. Antioxidants to promote

  • Heart health;

  • Skin health;

  • Healthy aging;

  • Glucose metabolism;

  • Osteoporosis;

  • Cognitive Health

References:

  1. Cazzonelli, C.I., (2011). Carotenoids in nature: insights from plants and beyond. Functional Plant Biology, 38: 833-847.