Main source of vitamin A
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Carotenoids are natural pigments responsible for colors ranging from yellow through orange to red, and are biosynthesized in all photosynthetic organisms, including cyanobacteria, photosynthetic bacteria belonging to algae, and higher plants, and also in some yeasts and fungi. The molecular structure of carotenoids is constituted of eight isoprenoid units, configuring a linear chain possessing several conjugated double bonds and an inverse symmetry in the center of the molecule. This basic structure of 40 carbon atoms can be modified by cyclization of terminal groups, chain extension or shortening, isomerization, hydrogenation or dehydrogenation, and the introduction of substituents, generating more than 800 free carotenoids known in nature so far.
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