The present study measures the increase in serum carotenoid concentration in 30 healthy individuals after supplementation with a low dose xanthophyll ester (3 and 6 mg of lutein equivalent/per day) when compared to a placebo. Serum levels of carotenoids were measured using HPLC and showed an increase in the concentration of lutein, zeaxanthin and four lutein metabolites proportional to dose. In order to further assess the importance of the end-group structure in carotenoids we have investigated the influence of the end-group type and functionality on the conformational energy barrier. We used the density functional method implemented on GAUSSIAN 98 to calculate the conformational energy curves for rotation of the P-ring or the E-ring relative to short polyene chains around the C6-C7 single bond. A large barrier is observed for the interconversion of conformers in the E-rings (8 kcal/mol) when compared to beta rings (2.3-3 kcal/mol)
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