Did you know about beta carotene? It is a pigment found in plants that give colors such as yellow, red, or orange. It is also a provitamin, which means our body can convert it into a vitamin, and has antioxidant properties.
Beta carotene contains the provitamin of vitamin A (retinol). Its name is derived from the Greek word beta and the Latin word for carrot. It was discovered by the scientist Heinrich Wilhelm Ferdinand Wackenroder, by crystallizing carrots in 1831. It is beneficial for the body and helps to prevent lots of medical conditions. Foods that contain beta-carotene are – mango, carrot, papaya, watermelon, apricot, etc. And it is also available in the form of a supplement.
But it’s important to learn about how much you should consume daily as it also causes some side effects if overeaten.
What is beta carotene?
Beta carotene is a precursor of vitamin A and belongs to the family of colored pigments called carotenoids. Our body needs vitamin A for healthy skin, and immune system, or for good eye health and vision. And our body converts this beta-carotene into vitamin A.
While beta carotene itself is not a nutrient but vitamin A is, it provides us with 50% of the vitamin A that’s needed in the diet. But excess beta carotene is toxic because the body produces too much vitamin A which is harmful to health. So, you need to follow the recommended dietary dose to benefit from beta-carotene.
Beta carotene is beneficial for our health. Its benefits are:
- As an antioxidant, it helps to remove the molecules called free radicals from the body. These cause inflammation and imbalance in the body which lead to cellular and tissue damage. This type of damage is known as oxidative stress.
- It also helps to protect you against some diseases such as – certain cancers, cognitive problems, heart disease, cataracts, and sunburn.
- Beta carotene also improves your cognitive functioning and prevents cognitive conditions like dementia, and Alzheimer’s through its antioxidant properties.
- Beta carotene also improves your skin health by defending it against UV radiation from the sun.
- Beta carotene helps to maintain lung health and protects you from lung cancer.
- Beta carotene can convert into vitamin A, and vitamin A is important for eye health and vision. It prevents eyes from age-related macular degeneration (AMD) which causes vision loss. Its deficiency causes night blindness.
The best food sources of beta-carotene are:
- Sweet potatoes
- Butternut squash
- Red and yellow peppers
- Romaine lettuce
Most people don’t get enough beta carotene through food. So, they use supplements. There is no recommended daily allowance (RDA) for beta carotene. But beta-carotene works as vitamin A in the body. So, the recommendation is the same as vitamin A.
According to the ODS (Office of Dietary Supplements), the recommended dose for adult females is 700 mcg per day, and for adult males is 900 mcg per day. And for pregnant and breastfeeding women 770 mcg and 1300 mcg, respectively.
While beta-carotene and other carotenoids are less likely to cause health issues even when consumed in high doses, it is different for beta-carotene supplements as they can leave side effects. That’s why the upper limit for preformed vitamin A is set to 3000 mcg for both men and women, including women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. But before taking supplements talk to the doctor to learn their benefits and side effects.
Excess consumption of beta carotene can cause certain problems such as:
- It increases the risk of lung cancer more than other smoking-related cancers. And chances increase if the person is a smoker.
- In case you take beta carotene supplements with certain medications, it can cause drug interaction which means reducing the effectiveness, increasing its potency, or changing what it’s supposed to do.
- Interactions of beta carotene with an alcoholic beverage can cause liver problems.
- Consult the dose of beta-carotene supplement with your doctor because high doses of supplements can cause certain cancers.
Beta-carotene is an antioxidant that we consume from food and our body converts it into vitamin A for various functions. It is beneficial for our eyes, lungs, cognitive functions, or skin if we consume it at the recommended dosage.
Want to know more about beta carotene, call us on 1-347-384-5690 to get a consultation, or walk in for an appointment at 1797 Pitkin Avenue, Brooklyn, New York 11212. Doral Health & Wellness is easily accessible by bus, taxi, or subway. You can also visit our website to book an appointment online at https://doralhw.org or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any queries.