We can use Cryptoxanthin to make vitamin A, but it also gives egg yolks a deep yellow color


Cryptoxanthin in a nutshell:
Cryptoxanthin is a plant chemical that acts as an antioxidant (as well as a precursor to vitamin A).  It’s thought to be active in preventing lung cancer but not because it is an antioxidant – it’s thought to work by switching genes on that protect against cancer.

Best source of Cryptoxanthin for Juicers
Cryptoxanthin can be found in butternut squash, pumpkin, tangerines, papaya red peppers, peaches, oranges, carrots, nectarines and peas.

Cryptoxanthin (pronounced crypt-o-zan-thin) is not exactly a household word, but it is an important natural antioxidant that extends the benefits of beta-carotene and vitamin A. It is the plant chemical that is most likely to lower the risk of lung cancer in smokers, and it may reduce the risk of rheumatoid arthritis and type 2 diabetes.

Alternative names: Cryptoxanthin; beta-cryptoxanthin.

What Is Cryptoxanthin?

peachesCryptoxanthin is one of several chemicals that plants use to prevent too much light from reaching their chloroplasts, the cell organelles that use sunlight to convert carbon dioxide and water into starches and sugars. Cryptoxanthin along with lutein and zeaxanthin, neoxanthin, and violaxanthin, protect the plant from the release of too much oxygen all at once that could possibly damage the parts of the cell that produce it.

The bodies of animals and humans can use cryptoxanthin to make vitamin A. Getting cryptoxanthin in the diet can offset the need for vitamin A, but only very slightly. Animals and humans need 24 molecules of cryptoxanthin to make one molecule for vitamin A.

There are different chemical forms of cryptoxanthin but the one that is important in plant health and human nutrition is beta-cryptoxanthin. This chemical is also used as a red food coloring in Australia and New Zealand but not in the US or EU.

Cryptoxanthin is naturally concentrated in corn (maize). One of the reasons farmers feed chicken corn is that it is the only reliable source of cryptoxanthin for giving eggs a deep, orange-yellow color.

What Does Cryptoxanthin Do in the Human Body?

If the human body needs vitamin A, it can make it from cryptoxanthin. However, in addition to serving as a backup source of vitamin A, cryptoxanthin has properties that seem to be especially important in cancer protection. Cryptoxanthin is an antioxidant, but the way it seems to prevent cancer is by switching on genes that protect against cancer.

More specifically, cryptoxanthin protects against lung cancer. An analysis of studies of nutrition and cancer entitled “Dietary Carotenoids and Risk of Lung Cancer in a Pooled Analysis of Seven Cohort Studies” that was published in the journal Cancer, Epidemiology, Biomarkers, and Prevention concluded that lutein, lycopene, alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, and zeaxanthin did not offer reliable cancer prevention benefits, but that persons who consumed the most cryptoxanthin had about a 25% lower risk of developing lung cancer than those who consumed the least. The difference between the highest and lowest levels of consumption was about the equivalent of half a glass of orange juice every day, or about 80 micrograms of cryptoxanthin daily.

How Can You Be Sure You Are Getting Enough Cryptoxanthin?

It's not hard to get that extra 80 micrograms (0.08 milligrams) of cryptoxanthin every day. Cryptoxanthin is abundant in egg yolks, butter, and beef that has not been made kosher or hallal (that is, which still contains the blood). It's even more abundant in certain plant foods, some of which provide enough cryptoxanthin for a month in a single serving.

    • A 3-1/2 ounce (100 gram) serving of raw butternut squash contains 3471 micrograms of beta-cryptoxanthin.
    • A 3-1/2 ounce (100 gram) serving of cooked butternut squash contains 3116 micrograms of beta-cryptoxanthin.
    • A 3-1/2 ounce (100 gram) serving of tangerine juice contains 2767 micrograms of beta-cryptoxanthin.butternut squash
    • A 3-1/2 ounce (100 gram) serving of raw pumpkin contains 2145 micrograms of beta-cryptoxanthin.
    • A 3-1/2 ounce (100 gram) serving of cooked pumpkin contains 1450 micrograms of beta-cryptoxanthin.
    • A 3-1/2 ounce (100 gram) serving of raw Japanese persimmons contains 1447 micrograms of beta-cryptoxanthin.
    • A 3-1/2 ounce (100 gram) serving of raw papayas contains 761 micrograms of beta-cryptoxanthin.
    • A 3-1/2 ounce (100 gram) serving of tangerine slices packed in syrup contains 567 micrograms of beta-cryptoxanthin.
    • A 3-1/2 ounce (100 gram) serving of cooked red peppers contains 460 micrograms of beta-cryptoxanthin.
    • A 3-1/2 ounce (100 gram) serving of boiled carrots contains 199 micrograms of beta-cryptoxanthin.
    • A 3-1/2 ounce (100 gram) serving of orange juice contains about 160 micrograms of beta-cryptoxanthin.
    • A 3-1/2 ounce (100 gram) serving of frozen sweet corn kernels contains 149 micrograms of beta-cryptoxanthin.
    • A 3-1/2 ounce (100 gram) serving of canned, unsweetened orange juice contains 148 micrograms of beta-cryptoxanthin.
    • A 3-1/2 ounce (100 gram) serving of canned chili (no water added) contains 142 micrograms of beta-cryptoxanthin.
    • A 3-1/2 ounce (100 gram) serving of canned peaches (packed in water) contains 109 micrograms of beta-cryptoxanthin.
    • A 3-1/2 ounce (100 gram) serving of boiled peas and carrots contains 99 micrograms of beta-cryptoxanthin.
    • A 3-1/2 ounce (100 gram) serving of raw nectarines contains 98 micrograms of beta-cryptoxanthin.
    • A 3-1/2 ounce (100 gram) serving of canned peaches (packed in syrup) contains 73 micrograms of beta-cryptoxanthin.
    • A 3-1/2 ounce (100 gram) serving of raw peaches contains 58 micrograms of beta-cryptoxanthin.
    • A 3-1/2 ounce (100 gram) serving of canned fruit cocktail (packed in syrup) contains 52 micrograms of beta-cryptoxanthin.
    • A 3-1/2 ounce (100 gram) serving of canned fruit cocktail (packed in water) contains 48 micrograms of beta-cryptoxanthin.
    • A 3-1/2 ounce (100 gram) serving of peach pie contains 25 micrograms of beta-cryptoxanthin.

egg-yolk-xsThere are small but measurable amounts of cryptoxanthin in tomatillos (Cape gooseberries), avocados, and kiwi fruit. One serving a day of any of the foods listed above, however, is a great way to get enough of this cancer-protective nutrient.

Is It Possible to Treat Disease with Cryptoxanthin?

Cryptoxanthin consumption does not just seem to help prevent lung cancer. Studies have also found it protects against the onset of rheumatoid arthritis and type 2 diabetes. One study suggests it may help protect pilots of jet aircraft from radiation damage, and another find that it may prevent hearing loss.

Once these conditions have occurred, however, it is probably too late to use cryptoxanthin for any purpose other than possibly slowing down the progress of the condition. Get your cryptoxanthin by eating just one or two servings of acorn squash a month, or by eating any of the other foods listed in the previous section on a regular basis, or by taking supplements by Karuna MAXXUM, Xangold Lutein with Zeaxanthin & Cryptoxanthin, or NOW Lutein Esters. Unlike some other supplements, the ester form of cryptoxanthin is equally well absorbed as the normal food form.

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About Andy Williams

In a processed food culture, simply eating may not be enough. Andy Williams, B.SC., Ph.D. is a scientist with a strong interest in Juicing and how it can supply the body with the nutrients it needs to thrive in modern society. You can subscribe to his free daily paper called Juicing The Rainbow and follow him on Facebook orTwitter. You can also follow me on Google +

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