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March 1991

Avian AestheticsBrightness Is for the Birds

Author Affiliations

Department of Physiology and Neurobiology University of Connecticut Storrs, CT 06268

Arch Dermatol. 1991;127(3):325-326. doi:10.1001/archderm.1991.01680030041005

People who study or treat the skin have a sense that carotenoids play some role essential to its health and well-being. All physicians and physiologists are aware that retinol is a catabolic product of β-carotene. β-carotene is, in turn, one of several dozen natural products categorized generally as carotenoids. The public has encountered carotenoids as skin colorants, a way to achieve a tan in a tube. The recent attention in the popular press to Retin-A as a palliative for facial wrinkles is another example of both human vanity and a physiologic role for the carotenoids. Further, there is currently interest in the role of β-carotene as an antioxidant, both in health maintenance and in the possible prevention of aging. Consequently, we eat yellow vegetables as animal cells are essentially incapable of its synthesis, a trick that plants accomplish with alacrity. It is often surprising to find the breadth of roles

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