Published: 10/23/2014 - Updated: 03/08/2020
Author: Dra. Loredana Lunadei, PhD
Beta-carotene is a substance present in fruits and vegetables and is responsible for providing foods with orange, yellow, or red coloring, like beets, papaya, tomatoes, pumpkins, plums, cantaloupe, peaches, tejocote, etc. Do not think, however, that just orange, yellow or red colored vegetables contain beta-carotene. This composite is also present in other vegetables like leafy greens or dark green vegetables, like broccoli and spinach. Seaweeds like spirulina are also a rich source of beta-carotene.
Beta-carotene and vitamin A
This pigment is converted into vitamin A in the body, and turns out to be one of the most potent antioxidants around. It slows deterioration in cells and tissues, keeping them young, and in prime condition. Beta-carotene destroys free radicals, unlike vitamin E, which is responsible for preventing the appearance of fre radicals.
Beta-carotene is very efficient at helping vitamin E efficiency, and is essential for regeneration and health of tissues and cells.
Ingesting beta-carotene helps to:
- Protect eyes from infections and cataracts.
- Reduce stomach ulcers.
- Because it is the precursor to vitamin A, it is important to keeping the eyes, the skin, mucous membranes, and the bones in good health.
- Prevents eye dryness.
- Promotes production of white blood cells.
- Prevents and fights for people that smoke or suffer from pulmonary problems due to smoking, like COPD, as these people have less vitamin A in their bodies.
- Helps keep the skin fresh, elastic, young, and healthy.
- Helps the immune system function properly.
- Is greatly beneficial for protecting skin from sun rays, because it activates melanin, which is a natural protector against harmful sun rays.
- Helps tan skin.
- Helps prevent and fight cardiovascular diseases, and is good food for veins and arteries. It prevents them from oxidation damage and eliminates “harmful” cholesterol in the blood.
What dosage should I take of beta-carotene?
In children, adolescents or adults, taking 500 mg a day is advisable, which is equivalent to eating 2 or 3 orange fruits or vegetables a day.
Do not worry if you go over this dosage as an excessive amount of beta-carotene will not produce any side effects. The only thing that could happen is your skin could turn a little orange if you go over the recommended amount.
One advantage to consuming beta-carotene instead of vitamin A is that too much vitamin A could be potentially toxic, as it frequently accumulates in the liver. Whereas an excess of beta-carotene accumulates in fats in the body, whicl helps protect skin from ultraviolet rays.
It is important, however, that you try to eat fresh fruits and vegetables. When they are cooked of exposed to sun, they lose their properties. If you are going to drink carrot juice, avoid adding lemon, as this could cut beta-carotene’s benefits for the body. Lemon should be eaten separately.
JUICE RICH IN BETA-CAROTENE
- One glass of fresh carrot juice (recently squeezed)
- One piece of broccoli
- One teaspoon of seaweed
Blend all ingredients and drink along with a meal. Avoid drinking sugary drinks or fruit drinks when you eat, as the sugar ferments food. It’s best to eat fruit on an empty stomach, and to wait 20 minutes for them to digest.
You could give this juice to children and adolescents; it will help prevent illnesses and will help them grow healthy and strong.
You could also make fresh fruit salads for kids, or give them a piece of sliced fruit, like cantaloupe or papaya, rather than sweets. Remember that the best health habits are formed during childhood.
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