Beta-carotene is a red-orange pigment found in plants and fruits, especially carrots’ composition, and other colorful vegetables. The human body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A (retinol), so beta-carotene is a precursor of vitamin A. The body needs vitamin A to maintain healthy skin, mucosal membranes for immune systems efficiently and for maintaining eye health. Beta-carotene is not, in itself, an essential nutrient, such as vitamin A.
What you did not know about beta-carotene
– Beta-carotene in food is a trusted source of vitamin A. This vitamin can come from food consumed after the body synthesizes the beta-carotene or in supplement form. The advantage of beta-carotene from natural sources is that the body converts it into vitamin A, depending on the amount it needs. Excess of vitamin A is toxic and may be registered only by the use of supplements containing vitamin A.
– Beta-carotene is an antioxidant. The beta-carotene, like all carotenoids, is an antioxidant. Antioxidants are substances that inhibit the oxidation of other molecules and protect the body from the harmful action of free radicals. Oxidative free radicals destroy cells. The damage caused by free radicals can cause several chronic diseases.
– Beta-carotene and the risk of lung cancer among smokers. According to a recent study involving adult women, it was found that smokers who consumed higher amounts of beta-carotene had a higher risk of developing lung cancer and other cancers associated with smoking than other smokers. Instead, it was found that nonsmokers who had a high intake of beta-carotene, showed a lower risk of getting lung cancer.
– Beta-carotene may slow cognitive decline. Persons who take beta carotene supplements for more than 15 years show a considerably lower risk of having cognitive decline. According to experts, oxidative stress is considered to be a key factor in cognitive decline.
– Beta-carotene slows the decline of the lung system associated with aging. A large study showed that increased levels of beta-carotene in the blood compensate some damage to the lungs caused by oxygen free radicals. Scientists have performed spirometric measurements in 550 participants – Spirometry measures the amount of air that reaches the lungs, into a single inspiration. Experts have found that older people, who consumed more beta-carotene over time, could inspire a greater amount of air, even at an older age.
– Foods rich in beta-carotene. The following foods are rich in beta-carotene: apricots, asparagus, broccoli, carrots, Chinese cabbage, chives, dandelion leaves, grapefruit , spices – chilli powder, oregano, paprika, parsley, turnips, ketchup, peas, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and plum, and the list does not end here. If you follow a healthy diet rich in beta-carotene, you do not need supllements. Supplements can cause unwanted excess of beta-carotene, and this cannot take place when it is absorbed from the foods you eat.