Pollen INTRODUCTION CHEMISTRY

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1 Pollen INTRODUCTION Pollen is the male component (microspores) of flowering seed-producing plants. Worker bees collect pollen as a food. They agglutinate pollen using a substance they produce, thus forming granules, which they take to the hive grasping them with the third pair of legs; pollen granules are stored into the hive. The color of pollen varies depending on the plant species it comes from; it is generally yellow or light brown, although also white, purple or black pollen can be found ( Besides playing an essential role in the fecundation of flowering plants and as a part of the bee diet, pollen can be applied to a number of uses: cosmetics, human diet, pharmacology, etc. CHEMISTRY On the basis of modern analytical techniques, a rather accurate idea of bee-pollen composition can be attained, from the qualitative as well as quantitative points of view. Nevertheless, marked quantitative variations have been recorded for each pollen type, depending on the origin and the season Carbohydrates Carbohydrates account for 25-50% of pollen; they consist basically of glucose and fructose coming from the bee-nectar used to agglomerate pollen microspores into small granules. Additionally, trace proportions of oligosaccharides such as starch, cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin-like substances can also be found. Proteins Simple and complex proteins account for % of pollen on average. Pollen contains higher protein proportions than other foods with a better known high-protein reputation such as meat, eggs, fish, cheese, etc. 100 g pollen contain the same amino acid amount than half a kilogram meat. Its total number of non-enzymatic proteins reaches about 100. V 01-09/ ,48510,

2 A large proportion of the nitrogen-containing fraction can be found as amino acids. Much like royal-jelly, pollen is one of the amino acid richest natural products. It contains abundant amounts of proline and hydroxyproline (also present in the structure of a glycoprotein included in the cell wall) as well as all of the essential and semi-essential amino acids. Pollen contains 10% free amino acids, namely about 37 mg/gr pollen, including a remarkable 11mg proline/gr pollen. Pollen protein fraction also contains a remarkably high amount of enzymes (all types of enzymes present), especially amylase, invertase, certain phosphatases, transferases, and a number of enzyme cofactors such as biotin, glutathione, NAD and some nucleotides. The protein concentration depends on the plant species and the variability within the species. Pollen age and pollen manipulation are major factors modifying its protein proportions. Lipids The lipid content varies between 1-2% dry weight. Lipids include: triglycerides, essential fatty acids, sterols, wax, liposoluble vitamins, hydrocarbons and pigments (carotenes and xanthophylls). Flavonoids Pollen granules may take the color of carotenoids or of flavonoids. Pollen often contains both pigment types; however, carotenoids might not be present, although flavonoids always are, combined as glycosides (yellow-colored flavones and isoflavones as well as purple-red colored anthocyans) Minerals and oligoelements Table 1 shows the main components of ash (2.5-6%) expressed as % of dry weight. % dry material Potassium Sodium Calcium Magnesium Phosphorus Sulfur Table 1. Main minerals in pollen (% dry material). ( len_pan_de_abejas.pdf). Trace mineral elements in pollen include: aluminum, boron, chlorine, iodine, iron, manganese, nickel, silicon, titanium and zinc. Pollen contains vitamins C, D, E, K, and all vitamins in the B group. TRADITIONAL USES Because of its high nutritional value, pollen has long been used as a dietary supplement. Besides its nutritive properties, it has remarkable vitalizing, energizing and antioxidant properties; therefore, pollen is used by persons under physical or mental stress or under inadequate nutrition. It raises the physical and psychical tiredness threshold in Sportspeople; it is also a highly valuable food supplement for persons suffering from rheumatism, high cholesterol levels, prostate problems, skin conditions and anemia as well as for people under strict weight-loss diets. V 01-09/ ,48510,

3 COSMETIC PROPERTIES Skin conditioning activity This activity is due to the protein, carbohydrates and vitamins in pollen. Proteins The polar nature of proteins gives them the capacity to bind water molecules by establishing hydrogen bonds. This action is not influenced by the molecular weight of the protein. However, if penetration into the skin and moisturizing in deeper skin layers is the goal, then short-chain, low molecular weight peptides yield better results. Thus, low molecular weight proteins are good moisturizing agents for deep skin layers, while high molecular weight proteins due to their filmogenic action are better for surface moisturizing and for giving the skin firmness and smoothness. Carbohydrates Carbohydrates are active principles extensively used in cosmetics. These compounds are hygroscopic, namely they adsorb water thus contributing to keep a healthy moisture level in the horny layer. These active compounds build hydrogen bonds, thus preventing massive water loss and reducing dehydration. Additionally, some of these compounds make a protective coat on the skin, thus preventing and slowing down transepidermal water loss. Therefore, pollen extract is highly recommendable to formulate cosmetic products with moisturizing, smoothing and general conditioning effects on the skin. Skin regeneration activity Pollen is a natural product with high proportions of substances nutritive for the skin. It boosts the metabolism and delays skin aging processes. These properties are based on the following components: Proline This amino acid promotes the synthesis of collagen and elastin, two key components in the conjunctive tissue. of the B group They contribute to skin health and cell renewal processes. -Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) Essential to maintain the integrity of mucosa membranes. B2 deficiency produces skin ulcers. It is involved in oxygen transportation to the tissues. -Vitamin B8 (biotin) Biotin deficiency produces scaling lesions on skin and mucosa. -Vitamin B9 (folic acid) Related to cell renewal. -Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) Plays a role in zinc metabolism; this mineral is part of the epidermis. Vitamin C Involved in collagen synthesis. Therefore, pollen extract is recommended to formulate cosmetic products with stimulatory activity on cell metabolism, epithelization and tissue regeneration. V 01-09/ ,48510,

4 Antioxidant activity Pollen contains flavonoids, vitamins of the B group and vitamin C, which have antioxidant properties. Flavonoids These compounds have antioxidant activity, which mainly depends on their ability to reduce free radicals and to chelate metals, thus preventing free radicals catalyzing reactions (López Luengo, M.T., 2002). Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) This vitamin acts as an antioxidant agent, reduces irritation, stimulates wound healing and helps maintaining a healthy skin balance. Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) It protects the skin against free radicals induced damage. Therefore, pollen extract is recommended to formulate cosmetic products aimed at the protection of skin and hair integrity against oxidative processes. Vitamin and mineral replenishing activity Pollen has a potential of nutrients in a natural balance, which allows for absorption, thus restoring nutrient deficiencies in different organs and tissues. Incorporation of pollen to the world of cosmetics helps restore the natural skin balance, due to its vitamins and minerals. These elements provide a natural way to recover the skin vitality and to improve its appearance. Thus caviar extract is highly recommendable to formulate cosmetic products with skin stimulating and revitalizing activity. Antimicrobial activity Basim E et al (2006) found in vitro antibacterial properties for pollen extract, when tested on 13 phytopathogenic bacteria. Furthermore, the chemical characteristics of pollen give this product good antimicrobial properties: Fresh pollen is a super-saturated sugar solution with very high osmotic pressure and low water activity (Aw); thus it leaves very few water available for bacterial and yeast growth. Pollen ph is between 4 and 6. Its natural acidity inhibits a number of pathogens. Some enzymes secreted by bees in the process of forming pollen granules turn glucose (water and oxygen being available) into glucuronic acid plus hydrogen peroxide. The resulting acidity and the hydrogen peroxide have preservative and sterilizing properties. Therefore, pollen extract is recommended to formulate cosmetic products with purifying and antiseptic activity. V 01-09/ ,48510,

5 COSMETIC APPLICATIONS Action Active Cosmetic application Amino -Moisturizing Skin conditioning acids/proteins -Soothing Carbohydrates -Firming Skin regeneration Antioxidant Vitamin and mineral replenishing Antimicrobial Amino acids/proteins Flavonoids Minerals Carbohydrates Enzymes -Stimulation of cell metabolism -Epithelizing -Tissue regeneration -Anti-ageing -Revitalizing -Purifying -Antiseptic RECOMMENDED DOSE The recommended dose is between 0.5% and 5.0%. BIBLIOGRAPHY Basic E, Basic H, Özcan M. Antibacterial activities of Turkish pollen and propolis extracts against plant bacterial pathogens. Journal of Food Engineering, 2006; 77(4): López Luengo, M.T. Flavonoides. OFFARM, 2002; 21 (4): Websites [accessed September 2007] V 01-09/ ,48510,

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