Separation, identification and quantification of carotenoids and chlorophylls in dietary supplements containingChlorella vulgarisandSpirulina platensisusing High Performance Thin Layer Chromatography

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Graphical abstractHighlightsChlorella vulgaris and Spirulina platensis are used as dietary supplements.Carotenoids are bioactive compounds with beneficial effects for human.HPTLC was used for effective separation and identification of these compounds.Optimal mobile phase – petroleum ether: cyclohexane: ethyl acetate: acetone: ethanol.In this study, 14 commercial products (dietary supplements) containing alga Chlorella vulgaris and cyanobacteria Spirulina platensis, originated from China and Japan, were analysed. UV–vis spectrophotometric method was applied for rapid determination of chlorophylls, carotenoids and pheophytins; as degradation products of chlorophylls. High Performance Thin-Layer Chromatography (HPTLC) was used for effective separation of these compounds, and also Atomic Absorption Spectrometry for determination of heavy metals as indicator of environmental pollution. Based on the results obtained from UV–vis spectrophotometric determination of photosynthetic pigments (chlorophylls and carotenoids), it was confirmed that Chlorella vulgaris contains more of all these pigments compared to the cyanobacteria Spirulina platensis. The fastest mobility compound identified in Chlorella vulgaris and Spirulina platensis using HPTLC method was β-carotene. Spectral analysis and standard calibration curve method were used for identification and quantification of separated substances on Thin-Layer Chromatographic plate. Quantification of copper (Cu2+, at 324.7 nm) and zinc (Zn2+, at 213.9 nm) was performed using Flame Atomic Absorption Spectrometry with air-acetylene flame atomization. Quantification of cadmium (Cd2+, at 228.8 nm), nickel (Ni2+, at 232.0 nm) and lead (Pb2+, at 283.3 nm) by Electrothermal Graphite Furnace Atomic Absorption Spectrometry; and quantification of mercury (Hg2+, at 254 nm) by Cold Vapour Atomic Absorption Spectrometry.

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