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

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…
Maltitol: Things you must know about this artificial sweetener Sugar alcohols are produced by fruits and vegetables. Maltitol is an artificially produced sugar alcohol…
Top 6 remedies to treat a razor burn at home Symptoms of razor burn include bumps on the skin, redness, and irritation of the skin.…
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…
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…
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…
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?…
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…
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…
diabetes symptoms in women
FBS Test – Fasting Blood Sugar FBS or fasting blood sugar test is a blood test that is used to determine…
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…
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…
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…
Tamarind: The top health benefits of this staple Asian ingredient Did you know this sweet and sour pulpy fruit does more than just add a…
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…
magnesium test
Magnesium Test The magnesium test is a blood test that is generally prsecribed when an individual starts…
low fodmap plan
Troubled with IBS? Here’s a complete roadmap to the low FODMAP diet Leaky & inflammatory gut troubling you? No medicine bringing you relief from the pain? Why…
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…
Stye : The best natural home remedies to ease the pain Styes developing inside the eyelid tend to be more painful whereas external styes are less…
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 ,…
Pescatarian Diet 101: What are the inherent health advantages of this diet? People opt to become a pescatarian in order to enrich their bodies with the essential…
Vitamin K2: 8 reasons why you need this bone-building & cancer-fighting nutrient Vitamin K2 is claimed to be essential for your bone health, for reducing the risk…
ketoacidosis diabetes
HB1Ac Test HB1Ac test is an important blood test that is used to measure the levels of…
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…
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.…
TBHQ: A carcinogen lingering in your child’s favorite snacks TBHQ - Why you should shun the practice of eating instant noodles or microwave popcorn…
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…
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…
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…
Dragon Fruit – Blessing from Nature’s Basket The dragon fruit is packed with nutrients and yet low on calories and is the…
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…
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…
Silicon Dioxide: How can a component of sand be essential to your wellbeing? Silicon is one of the most abundant elements in the nature. Find out how silicon…
Eustachian Tube : Functions and top home remedies to prevent its infection Pressure equalization, mucus drainage and protecting the middle ear from bacteria and viruses are the…
How accurate is the hair follicle drug test? Hair follicle drug test is one of the best ways to identify drug use in…
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…
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…
Astaxanthin: Why experts believe it could be 550x more potent than vitamin E! What is astaxanthin and why is this new supplement on the block touted as the…
Epley maneuver: Why is this the best protection from the symptoms of vertigo? Epley maneuver is an exercise that can treat the symptoms of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo…
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…
autoimmune diseases facts
Autoimmune Diseases: Find out if your body is attacking you right now Did you know your body can harm itself? What are autoimmune diseases and why does…
waterchestnut
Water Chestnuts: The tastiest ways to include this healthy tuber in your diet Water chestnut is not a nut after all. It is a tuber (much like the…
How do neutrophils protect you from fatal bacterial attacks? During an infection, certain enzymes alert the mature neutrophils.  Neutrophils then travel through the bloodstream…
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…
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…
cold flu sinus treatment
How to beat the common cold, flu, and sinus infection instantly? Can you guess some of the easiest tricks to treat cold and sinus infections? How…
Chlorella: Therapeutic powers of the billion-year-old algae now within your reach Chlorella - A billion year old nutrient-rich algae that can potentially ward off cancers and…
What to eat, what not to eat in the South Beach Diet? The South Beach Diet is one among the most popular weight loss programs that have…
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…
Fluoride: An indispensible mineral or a potential toxin ? Fluoride, the main ingredient of toothpaste, has shown a great potential as a cleanser. However,…
Vitamin B12: The unknown repercussions of this nutrient deficiency Vitamin B12 is also known as cobalamine; involved in the development of red blood cells…
Iron Deficiency: 7 major side-effects and steps to overcome them Iron is involved in many vital functions, starting from oxygen transport to healthy fetal development.…
What is the right way to take a pregnancy test? A pregnancy test is undertaken to determine if you have conceived. A home pregnancy test…
Oxalates: How healthy greens can sometimes be bad news for your kidneys Oxalates are compounds present in a majority of healthy foods. However, at times an overconsumption…
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…
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?…
paleo keto diet
Paleo vs. Keto: Which diet plan is best suited for your body goals? Is eating like a caveman the right way to go? Can you really eat fats…
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…
Moringa drink
Moringa: This could be the most nutrient-dense food known to us! Moringa is a lush green tree brimming with over 90 essential nutrients required for a…
almonds healthy
9 reasons why almonds should be consumed daily Almonds are filled with nutrients and energy and are used since ancient times.  The bitter…
Cayenne: The remarkable benefits of these red hot chili peppers These may make you rush for a glass of water, but cayenne pepper is actually…
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…
Latest findings on Kombucha; a teacup full of yeast and bacteria How can a tea consisting of a live culture of bacteria & fungi be healthy?…
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…
Top Natural Repellents for Mosquitoes with negligible side-effects What are the best ways to keep mosquitos away from you? Try these natural and…
Is bronchitis contagious? And how to prevent this infection? It is acute bronchitis that is contagious which means you can contract it from another…
General adaptation syndrome: Understanding stress, one step at a time The struggle of the body to produce hormones during a stressful situation is the main…
Nipah Virus epidemic
Is shingles contagious? If yes, then how can you prevent this infection? What is shingles? How is different from chicken pox? Do adults get shingles? How contagious…
Hot cups for detox? Read all about the ancient technique of cupping Did you know inverted hot cups on your back can squeeze out and eject toxins…
Poop chart: Top things you didn’t you your poop could reveal about you Bristol poop chart was designed during the 1990s in order to help doctors identify various…
Balneotherapy jacuzzi
5 things you didn’t know about balneotherapy and how you can do it at home Sauna baths have been popular since a long time. But how much more beneficial can…
Helicobacter pylori IGA
Helicobacter Pylori – IgA Test The H.pylori IgA test is a blood test used to identify the level of IgA…
folate test
Folate test The Folate test is used to measure and monitor the levels of folic acid in…
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…
lose pregnancy weight
5 most effective ways you can lose those pregnancy pounds! Are you looking for ways to get back into shape? Scared of crash diets? Don't…
sugar toxic health
Sugar: 7 new shocking truths revealed about the sweet poison Can drinking soda bring you closer to death? Is sugar slowly poisoning you and your…
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…
essential amino acids
Amino acids: Building blocks of life for better mood and sex drive! Find out why amino acids are often called as the building blocks of life. And…
CBD oil safe
Cannabidiol benefits: Evaluating the “highs” of CBD Oil The word cannabis paints a picture of addicts. But did you know that CBD oil,…
calories healthy
Calories: How to keep a check on these for faster weight loss Did you know you can burn calories while sleeping? Calorie-burning is what causes weight loss.…
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…
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…
Horny Goat Weed: Can it improve libido in human beings too? This plant got its name as Horny Goat Weed when one of the goats feeding…
Jackfruit: Slice your way into higher immunity, better digestion, & more… Native to the South East Asia, the jackfruit is a fruit brimming with thousands of…
Top 15 fat burning foods you need to start eating from today! Tired of going to gym everyday but seeing no change in your weight? Try these…
Sharpen your brain with these top brain-friendly foods! Did you know your diet could decide how razor sharp your memory is? Or that…
Muscle relaxers: Think twice before popping prescription drugs for muscle pain The market is brimming with OTC muscle relaxers. But these come with a host side-effects.…
How to scrub away stress and fatigue with an Epsom salt bath? Epsom salt is a popular home remedy for many skin ailments. Though there is a…
shakeology woman
Meal replacement or protein drink? Learn all about Shakeology and its claims Shakeology from Beachbody claims to be the most suitable shake that can aid in weight…
reflexology massage
Top reasons why you should go for a reflexology massage today Reflexology involves the application of pressure to your feet and hands to encourage self-healing. Could…
LFT-test
Liver Function Test – LFT LFT or Liver Function Test is a blood test used to determine the levels of…
anti-thyroglobulin antibody
Anti-Thyroglobulin Antibody test Anti-thyrogloubin antibody test measures the level of antibodies that attack the thyroid gland cells and…
ANTIPHOSPHOLIPIDANTIBODY(APL)_IgG
Antiphospholipid (APL) antibody-IgG The Antiphospholipid Antibody testing is a blood test used to determine an autoimmune disorder called…
HPV diegene hybrid dna detection
HPV Digene Hybrid DNA Detection test An HPV DNA test is a test used to detect 13 high-risk types of human…
Thyroid disorders
Thyroid Profile Thyroid profile is a panel of blood tests performed to check if an individual is…
Serotonin happiness
Serotonin: What you didn’t know about this “feel-good” chemical Serotonin : Did you know that this "feel-good" hormone could well impact your sleep cycle,…

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.