From carotenoid intake to carotenoid blood and tissue concentrations - implications for dietary intake recommendations.
There is uncertainty regarding carotenoid intake recommendations, because positive and negative health effects have been found or are correlated with carotenoid intake and tissue levels (including blood, adipose tissue, and the macula), depending on the type of study (epidemiological vs intervention), the dose (physiological vs supraphysiological) and the matrix (foods vs supplements, isolated or used in combination). All these factors, combined with interindividual response variations (eg, depending on age, sex, disease state, genetic makeup), make the relationship between carotenoid intake and their blood/tissue concentrations often unclear and highly variable. Although blood total carotenoid concentrations <1000 nmol/L have been related to increased chronic disease risk, no dietary reference intakes (DRIs) exist. Although high total plasma/serum carotenoid concentrations of up to 7500 nmol/L are achievable after supplementation, a plateauing effect for higher doses and prolonged intake is apparent. In this review and position paper, the current knowledge on carotenoids in serum/plasma and tissues and their relationship to dietary intake and health status is summarized with the aim of proposing suggestions for a "normal," safe, and desirable range of concentrations that presumably are beneficial for health. Existing recommendations are likewise evaluated and practical dietary suggestions are included.