Natural carotenoids (CARs), viz. β-carotene, lutein, astaxanthin, bixin, norbixin, capsanthin, lycopene, canthaxanthin, β-Apo-8-carotenal, zeaxanthin, and β-apo-8-carotenal-ester, are being studied as potential candidates in fields such as food, feed, nutraceuticals, and cosmeceuticals. CAR research is advancing in the following three major fields: (1) CAR production from natural sources and optimization of its downstream processing; (2) encapsulation for enhanced physical and chemical properties; and (3) preclinical, clinical, and epidemiological studies of CARs' health benefits. This review critically discusses the recent developments in studies of the chemistry and antioxidant activity, marketing trends, dietary sources, extraction, bioaccessibility and bioavailability, encapsulation methods, dietary intake, and health benefits of CARs. Preclinical, clinical, and epidemiological studies on cancer, obesity, type 2 diabetes (T2D), cardiovascular diseases (CVD), osteoporosis, neurodegenerative disease, mental health, eye, and skin health are also discussed.
Keywords: astaxanthin; cancer; cardiovascular diseases (CVDs); diabetes; lycopene; microalgae; neurodegenerative disease; pigments; vitamin A; β-carotene.