Beta-carotene: Top reasons why you need to include vitamin A in your diet


What is Beta-carotene?

Beta-carotene is a compound found in the blood. It is one of a group of red, yellow, and orange pigments called carotenoids. It is derived from the food that we eat, particularly carrots, and hence the name. Some of the other foods rich in beta-carotene are onions, squash, peas etc. It is important because on oxidation it converts to vitamin A, a very essential vitamin. Beta-carotene is important also because of its antioxidant and anticancer properties.

Vitamin A is necessary for the development of the embryo in pregnant women and proper growth and eyesight in children and adults. However, it is also toxic at high levels.

Note that any carotenoid with a molecular structure similar to that of retinol (vitamin A) can lead to the formation of vitamin A on oxidation. However, beta-carotene presents with the highest vitamin A-forming activity of all carotenoids, and therefore its importance in this regard.

Benefits of beta-carotene

Slows down cognitive impairment

An estimated 5.3 million or 1.6% of Americans of all ages had Alzheimer’s disease in 2015. Without breakthroughs in prevention or treatment, it is estimated that the number may even triple by 2050. This means that there is an urgency for alternative methods of treatment that may prove more effective than those existing. The investigation into vitamins was done with a purpose of using it to supplement standard treatment for this disease.

A study was conducted in 16 human participants with Alzheimer’s disease, low memory, dementia, Parkinson’s disease etc. It was observed that beta-carotene supplementation helped bring sizeable improvement in the condition of three participants, with one participant’s medication also reduced.

Let us now consider another study that was conducted in a much larger sample of 4000 people over a period of 18 years. It was observed that beta-carotene supplementation helped slow down the cognitive decline. This means that the patients had more time before they needed caregivers or an increase in medication.

Reduces depression

A study was conducted in Japan on 1634 elderly individuals aged 65 and older to understand if vitamin intake had an association with depression. The study concluded that both vitamin C and Beta-carotene helped to reduce depressive symptoms among elderly people living in community dwellings in Japan.

Reduces the risk of breast cancer

A study has proven that higher circulating levels of carotenoids like beta-carotene can help reduce the risk of breast cancer in women. The breast cell lines were treated with a combination of beta-carotene and lycopene for 48 hours and 96 hours, respectively. There was a marked improvement with time. The combination of the two compounds helped prevent the proliferation of cancer cells and interfered with their growth. In some cases, it even leads to apoptosis (death of cancer cells). It was also observed that beta-carotene obtained from natural sources had stronger anticancer properties as opposed to that which was synthetically prepared.

Reduces the risk of leukemia

When monocytic leukemia and myeloid leukemia were treated with beta-carotene (even at lower concentrations), the anti-oxidant properties were more evident. In a study, it was observed that Beta-carotene is able to arrest the proliferation and growth of certain leukemia cells at a concentration of 20 micrometer in 24 hours. The death of cancer cells (apoptosis) increases with increasing concentration of beta-carotene. However, these reported benefits were in the earlier stages of the growth of cancer.

Reduces the risk of liver cancer and chronic liver disease

Another study observed that men with higher serum beta-carotene and retinol levels had a lower risk of developing liver cancer and dying of chronic liver disease. Though these results may suggest that a diet high in micronutrients may help protect against cancer, it may be another aspect of lifestyle, diet, or health. In addition, the authors of the study do not recommend any supplements that are rich in beta-carotene or retinol as having any beneficial effect.

Reduces the photosensitivity of skin

Erythropoietic protoporphyria is a photosensitive disorder. Taking enough of beta-carotene can help reduce the photosensitivity of those with this disorder. It is reported to work well for other photosensitive disorders as well.

Beta-carotene may also help to prevent the effects of phototoxic drugs. There is evidence also that beta-carotene supplementation may be useful for skin care as well. It is used as a bioactive ingredient of creams, which protects skin lesions against oxidation and exposure to UV radiation.

Reduces macular degeneration

Macular degeneration as an age-related disorder can lead to a gradual loss of vision. This loss of vision can be prevented by a combination of vitamin E, C, zinc, copper and beta-carotene. It is in fact believed that it can reduce the risk of advanced age-related macular degeneration by about 25%. However, because the same study also included smokers, beta-carotene was removed, as it is known to increase the risk of lung cancer in those who smoke.

Reduces the risk of fracture

A study was conducted on elderly men and women over a period of 15 years where they were supplemented with lycopene and beta-carotene. The results obtained supported the supplementation of vitamins to reduce the risk of bone fracture. By reducing the oxidative stress on bones, beta-carotene might help reduce the risk of facture in cases of injury or external trauma. Beta-carotene is capable of this by scavenging reactive free radicals of oxygen in the body. The oxidative stress might actually lead to bone resorption, which is inhibited in the above process by beta-carotene.

Another bad news for smokers

In a study conducted by ATBC in 1994, it was observed that those who smoked tobacco and took beta-carotene supplements were at a higher risk of lung cancer than others were. The family of enzymes called GSTs present in the body is responsible for neutralizing the carcinogenic substances in tobacco. Beta-carotene inhibits the activity of GST, thereby allowing the carcinogen to cause lung cancer. At the time, there was increasing faith in antioxidant supplementation leading to great benefits. The report by ATBC evoked concern in the hearts of those who had advocated for vitamin supplementation as a treatment method.

Foods containing beta-carotene

The beneficial carotenoid is found in good amounts in vegetables that have a red, yellow, or orange skin. This does not mean that it is not present in other vegetables though. In fact, quite a few leafy greens and other vegetables also contain beta-carotene. You could include them in your diet as well.

Now remember that vitamin A is soluble in fats, not in water. This means that it is always better to include some fats in your diet as well to enable better absorption of vitamin A. Some of the sources of vitamin A are:

Herbs and spices such as sage, cilantro, parsley, marjoram, paprika, and chili also contain good amount of beta-carotene.

How much Vitamin A must you take?

There are still no established guidelines for taking beta-carotene. The general guidelines for taking beta-carotene supplements for the different age groups are as follows:

  • 6-15 mg of beta-carotene daily for adults
  • 3-6 mg of beta-carotene daily for children

Vitamin A intake also depends on your medical history and what medications you are currently taking. For different medical conditions, vitamin A requirements will be different.
If you are watchful, you can satisfy most of your vitamin A requirements by managing your diet effectively and including the foods that are rich in vitamin A.

Supplementation is not necessary to ensure you get the desired quantity of the vitamin in question. In 3.5 ounces of carrots, there is an about 8 mg of beta-carotene This would help to satisfy 55% of a man’s daily requirement of vitamin A and 70% of the daily requirement of vitamin A for women.  Now you can easily figure out how much you would require. Green leafy vegetables like spinach are equally rich in beta-carotene, with about 60 grams of spinach providing 7 mg of beta-carotene. Even a starchy vegetable like sweet potato has a bit of beta-carotene as well. In about 100 gm of sweet potato, there is about 4 mg of beta-carotene.

Are higher doses of beta-carotene unsafe?

For a long time, there was a view that antioxidants are all equally useful and that probably their dosing did not matter. However, a recent review of several studies on antioxidants has proven otherwise. It is not advisable to take large doses of beta-carotene, just as it is unwise to take large doses of any other vitamin. Vitamin E, for instance, is seen as a wholesome vitamin, but in larger doses, it can have the same inhibitory effect on the GST family of enzymes mentioned earlier. This, in turn, can lead to cancer.

Because different antioxidants have different molecular structures, it says that it is also important to pick the right one. This will ensure that it is beneficial for a particular condition that would need chemical compounds of a particular molecular structure to treat it.

The review also concluded that there is strong evidence for beta-carotene supplementation inducing lung cancer in smokers already taking other multivitamins. The same review also concluded that the risk of cancer was relatively less in smokers who got their beta-carotene through food and not through supplements.

Therefore, taking beta-carotene supplements is not recommended for those who smoke. However, they may take foods that are rich in beta-carotene without having to worry about the risk of lung cancer. Including foods that are rich in beta-carotene has proven to be beneficial not only in reducing the incidence of cancer but also that of heart disease.

Industrial uses of beta-carotene

The use of beta-carotene in food is not just because of its useful bioactivity (that of oxidation to vitamin A) but also due to its distinctive color. Because of the distinctive color of beta-carotene, it is used as an additive in the food industry. It is used as an orange-red pigment in several products like non-alcoholic beverages, cheese, pastry, ice cream etc.

It is used in the pharmaceutical industry to add color to tablets and again in cosmetic industry where it is added to creams as a bioactive ingredient.

How useful is beta-carotene really?

Beta-carotene is one of the most essential micronutrients. The best way to ensure you are getting enough of it is by including fruits and vegetables in your diet that are rich in beta-carotene.

There are specific ways by which you can increase your daily intake of vitamin A. To know more, you could consult a doctor. If you have any medical conditions, the doctor will also recommend supplements to treat them. If you do not have any medical conditions that would need the use of supplements, why should you take them? Especially when it is possible to obtain the same nutrients from other fruits and vegetables.

Want to live a healthy lifestyle?

Subscribe to free FactDr newsletters.

REVAMP YOUR

If you're enjoying our website, we promise you'll absolutely love our new posts. Be the first one to get a copy!

Get factually correct, actionable tips delivered straight to your inbox once a week.

I want the latest scoop on :

We hate spam too. We will never share your email address with anyone. If you change your mind later, you can unsubscribe with just one click

By clicking Subscribe, I agree to the FactDr Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of FactDr subscriptions at any time.

 

 

 

Related Posts

Trending Topics

anal sex
Anal Sex : Tips from experts on how to be kinky yet safe Whether it irks you or stokes your fantasies, anal sex has always been an intriguing…
diverticulitis diet
Diverticulitis diet: The right way to eat if you suffer from the disease Are you suffering from diverticultis but clueless about your diet ? Read this complete plan…
passion fruit juice
Passion fruit: How one exotic fruit can help you fight infections and cancer! Passion fruit: Why does this exotic fruit have such an enticing name? And how can…
Penis pump: Pump your way out of erectile dysfunction One of the options to treat erectile dysfunction is by the use of a penis…
hidden benefits walking
9 benefits of walking we bet you didn’t know! Did you know walking can be the miracle pill for eternal youth? Everyone knows walking…
Jicama: A fiber-rich tuber for your weight loss goals Pronouced as HEE-kah-ma, Jicama is the "new kid on the block" that has taken the…
Maltitol: Things you must know about this artificial sweetener Sugar alcohols are produced by fruits and vegetables. Maltitol is an artificially produced sugar alcohol…
maltodextrin sugar
Maltodextrin: What are the hidden health benefits of this food additive? Maltodextrin is one of the few food additives that has been relatively deemed safe. Many…
Clitoris: Why is it called the gateway to toe-curling female orgasms? The word clitoris comes from the Greek word kleitoris or “little hill.”  Many compare the…
apple cider vinegar weight loss
Apple cider vinegar: Weight loss, shinier hair, and more! Did you know that apple cider vinegar, produced by the simple fermentation of apple juice,…
Lectin: The common link of proteins between peas and people Lectins are a type of protein that are found majorly in legumes. Most people are…
eating disorder anorexia
Eating Disorders: Lifestyle choice or a psychological condition? Is eating disorder just a harmless bad habit? Or does it represent grim psychological disorders?…
Find the G spot: The top sex positions that guarantee an orgasm There has been a long debate as to whether the G-spot actually exists as a…
dandelion health benefits
Dandelion: Little parachutes of health and wellness for your whole body Dandelions are not just bright looking blossoms that cheer your mind. These are powerpacked with…
kefir bottle
Kefir: Top reasons why this probiotic drink should be consumed by you Yet another remarkable fermented food, kefir is a much healthier version of yogurt. These chewy…
Female Masturbation: Tips on how to turn up the heat during a solo mission As a female, do you find yourself constantly wondering as to what is the best…
liver detox facts
7 liver detox facts and why ignoring these could kill you! Are you taking care of this organ that handles over 500 different vital functions in…
stress depressed anxiety
Are you depressed or just stressed? Know when to see a doctor Why are some people more anxious than others? Is being depressed the same as feeling…
eating myths debunked
8 ‘healthy eating’ myths you believed until now Is a zero-carb diet really healthy for you? Are organic products worth their cost? Did…
yoga health benefits
How to practice yoga for astounding health benefits Can a 5000-year-old system be the ultimate body healer? Did you know yoga can make…
about mediterranean diet
Why you should be adopting a Mediterranean style of diet today Ever wondered why the Mediterranean diet is so healthy? One simple solution to lowering risk…
sleep deprivation
Don’t let your sleep deficit grow into memory loss or heart attack Why is sleep important for us? How could sleep deprivation harm you? We bet you…
Pumpkin Seeds: Why pumpkins are more than just for pies! Pumpkins have been long associated with Halloween carvings and delicious pies. But did you know…
Milk Thistle skin
Milk Thistle: Find possible cures for fatal diseases in these purple blooms Milk thistle is well-known for treating liver conditions. However, did you know that it comes…
The science behind daith piercing: Can it really cure migraine? Since the ear has several pressure points, it is believed that daith piercing activates the…
lifestyle diseases
The Big 5 lifestyle diseases: How your everyday living might be killing you You'd be shocked to know how unhealthy and potentially fatal your everyday routine could be.…
Keto diet healthy
Keto Diet: Did you know you could eat fats to burn fats? Keto diet - A wonder diet that lets you eat fats and lose weight too!…
High Fiber Diet – Fire up your fiber intake for these health benefits! Regular bowels, healthy detox, higher immunity, and guaranteed weight loss - a high fiber diet…
Garlic health benefits cloves
Garlic: Nature’s white pill as an effective home remedy What are the secrets hidden in these tiny white pills? Find out the immense health…
The right way to prepare Alfalfa sprouts at home Alfalfa or lusan ghas is not just a nutritious animal fodder. This flavonoid-rich herb has…
How can Kegels help you overcome weak pelvic muscles & incontinence? Kegel exercises are pelvic floor strengthening exercises that can help you overcome incontinence issues that…
nature health benefits
Green Healing: The amazing health benefits of being in nature You have no idea what sitting in a closed room does to your body and…
turmeric skin
We bet you didn’t know that turmeric could be this beneficial! Did you know that turmeric, a humble ingredient found in most Indian kitchens could cure…
Salt dangers
Sodium chloride: The wonders and dangers of the simple table salt Sodium chloride is a salt containing sodium and chlorine ions at a 1:1 ratio. It…
Juice Plus: Can you really replace actual fruits with pills?  Juice Plus supplements intend to fill nutritional gaps present in our daily diet. But how…
CLA: A breakthrough weight loss supplement with minimal side effects Tried every weight loss supplement in the market with no substantial gain? Why not try…
back pain relief
Don’t choose pain: 10 truths about your back ache (and how to get relief) Back pain is one of the most common ailments in the world. Almost 80% of…
Anhedonia: Does the chronic inability to feel joy affect you too? How often do you feel dragged down by an invisible force? Do you feel an…
Love tea, hate tannins? Rooibos tea is just what you need The market is brimming with a multitude of herbal teas. But what makes rooibos tea…
BRAT Diet: What is the right way to follow this diarrhea-relieving diet? BRAT diet, a simple diet consisting of just bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast, can help…
Appendix pain: Recent findings on this not-so vestigial organ The exact function of the appendix is still not clear. Some consider it as an…
Dragon Fruit – Blessing from Nature’s Basket The dragon fruit is packed with nutrients and yet low on calories and is the…
erectile dysfunction treatment
Erectile Dysfunction: Effective tips to help you get back on charge Erectile dysfunction is a common male sexual dysfunction. Don't stress out. Just follow these amazing…
Experts reveal, how long does marijuana actually stay in your system… Weed or marijuana is one of the most widely abused recreational drug. But did you…
hidden causes obesity
8 hidden causes of obesity you probably didn’t know! Did you know that around 2 billion people worldwide are either overweight or obese? Are…
dance health benefits
5 unbelievable effects of dance on your overall health! You enjoy dancing, but did you know what else it does to your body? Dancing…
Fluoride: An indispensible mineral or a potential toxin ? Fluoride, the main ingredient of toothpaste, has shown a great potential as a cleanser. However,…
Spirulina: Battle diabetes and cholesterol with this blue-green algae Spirulina, a species of salt water algae, has now become a billion dollar industry. How…
improve digestion weight loss
Power up your gut: 8 proven steps on how to improve your digestion Did you know you have a colony of bacteria in your gut that help you…
How accurate is the hair follicle drug test? Hair follicle drug test is one of the best ways to identify drug use in…
Is this is the real life? Is this just fantasy? – Decoding the myths of lucid dreaming Lucid dreaming or dreaming with a state of awareness has often intrigued the minds of…
social media adddiction
Your health in the age of Social Media: Why is digital detox a necessity? Did you know that more than 400 million people are dangerously addicted to social media?…
carrageenan seaweed
Carrageenan: How a simple seaweed extract could better your gut health & immunity Eat more ice cream to prevent cold and flu? –With carrageenan you get one simple…
oral hygiene tips
6 shocking consequences of bad oral hygiene (and how to avoid them) Did you know bad breath is not just turning off, but also harms your body…
Military diet
Military Diet : Why following a highly restrictive diet is a bad idea Is seiging your calorie intake the right way to attack fats? Read more about Military…
ashwagandha brain
Ashwagandha: The best-kept secret of Ayurveda now revealed! Ashwagandha literally means "smell of horse". Don't get bogged down by that one tiny detail…
Tea Tree Oil : The one stop cure for skin ailments and more… The popularity of tea tree oil, an essential oil, as the ultimate skin care pick…
Chromium Picolinate: An essential mineral supplement for faster weight loss Did you know that about 1.6 million deaths were directly linked to diabetes globally? How…
Kava: Is it the healthy substitute for alcohol you have been waiting for? Native to the beautiful South Pacific islands, Kava is a famous beverage rooted in the…
Piaget stages: Do they accurately describe the way the human brain develops?  A common assumption was that children are less competent thinkers as compared to adults, but…
What is the average penis size and why should you care? Scientifically speaking, the average size of the penis depends on numerous factors such as genes,…
Internal bleeding brain
Beware: Ignoring these tell-tale signs of stroke could cost a life The signs and symptoms of a stroke differ depending on which part of the brain…
occupational hazards types
Occupational Hazards: How to vouch for your health at your workplace Occupational hazards affect millions worldwide. Chemical spills, faulty wires, deadly pathogen, and work-stress can happen…
aspartame or sugar
Aspartame – Hidden truths about this storm in a teacup Aspartame, the artificial sweetener, has gone under the scanner on several occasions for allegedly doing…
Isagenix diet
Isagenix Diet: Do you really need liquid meal replacements to lose weight? Isagenix Diet - What are liquid meal replacements and why is the world going ga-ga…
green poop causes
Green poop : What are the reasons and how can you correct it Ever sneak a peek down the toilet only to shockingly find green poop? Why does…
V for Vagina: How well do you know this extraordinary part of the female anatomy? Vagina - a simple part of the human anatomy that has often created a feeling…
fitness routine fun
10 fantastic ways to make your fitness routine more fun! Are you too bored to exercise? Do you avoid gym cause it's too monotonous? Looking…
alcohol toxic
7 startling facts that will make you quit alcohol today Does drinking really make you friendly and happy? How many calories does a can of…
acne removal tips
Anatomy of acne: 7 instant steps to kiss those zits goodbye Blackheads, whiteheads, or pimples-call them what you may. Acne is never good news.Did you know…
tips for perfect sleep
Stop hitting the snooze button: 8 proven steps to perfect sleep Are you tired of not getting enough sleep? All your efforts for a sound sleep…
MANUKA HONEY child
Manuka Honey Manuka honey is a specific type of honey produced by honey bees that collect nectar…
boost brain health
The ultimate tips on how to boost your brain health Would you like to be smarter? Want a sharp memory but bored of doing sudoku?…
nutritional yeast bread
Nutritional Yeast : How can a fungi culture be good for your body? Nutritional yeast: How a simple culture of fungi can transform your skin, digestion, immunity ,…
Improve sex life
9 best tips from around the world for better sex life How can the pungent-smelling garlic pack in a punch to your libido? How could something…
gout diet purines
Gout Diet : Get relief from painful joints by eating these foods Are you a victim of this painful condition? Are medications providing only short relief? Find…
Hydroquinone: Is it the best topical treatment for hyperpigmentation? Darkening of the skin due to high melanin levels is called hyperpigmentation.  Hydroquinone interferes with melanin…
Quinine: How gin and tonic came to be known as a potent health elixir The discovery of quinine-containing tree bark is sometimes considered the most serendipitous medical discovery of…
Vitamin C: The instant health benefits of adding the citrusy goodness to your diet Vitamin C is an essential vitamin that cannot be synthesized in your body and has…
cancer facts
8 hard-hitting truths no one tells you about cancer Did you know that 1.5 million new cases of cancer are reported every year? Can…
quinoa salad
Quinoa : A prodigious superfood you need to include in your diet today! Quinoa - what is so special about this native South American grain that has taken…
understanding addiction
Addiction explained: An obsession that could cost you your life Is addiction a behavioral disorder? Or is it a chronic disease? How does addiction cause…
iron food shellfish
Iron-Rich Foods: Eat these foods to keep fatigue and anemia away! How to ensure a muscles as strong as iron? Eat iron rich foods ! Iron…
Legumes: Little pods of infinite nutrition you should consume daily The fruits and seeds of Fabaceae type of plants are called legumes.The most commonly used…
TBHQ: A carcinogen lingering in your child’s favorite snacks TBHQ - Why you should shun the practice of eating instant noodles or microwave popcorn…
DASH Diet: What to eat in a “Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension”? If you or your loved one is suffering from chronic hypertension (high blood pressure), dash…
The real reason why you shouldn’t be eating ramen noodles Instant ramen noodles might be your go-to snack for your hunger pangs. But with each…
Colloidal silver benefits
Colloidal silver: An essential dietary supplement or yet another pharmaceutical hoax? Colloidal silver is hailed as an effective home remedy for infections. Many believe it can…
What is the eustachian tube and how does it help you maintain body balance? Pressure equalization, mucus drainage and protecting the middle ear from bacteria and viruses are the…

Related Posts

Want to live a healthy lifestyle?

Subscribe to free FactDr newsletters.

REVAMP YOUR

If you're enjoying our website, we promise you'll absolutely love our new posts. Be the first one to get a copy!

Get factually correct, actionable tips delivered straight to your inbox once a week.

I want the latest scoop on :

We hate spam too. We will never share your email address with anyone. If you change your mind later, you can unsubscribe with just one click

By clicking Subscribe, I agree to the FactDr Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of FactDr subscriptions at any time.