A-Z of Vitamins: Beta-Carotene

We had thought of having vitamin B for the “B” part of our A-Z of Vitamins but then we thought no; we should go with a vitamin or mineral that not that many people knew about but should do. Beta-carotene is another vital component of a diet that a healthy body needs in order to function as it should do.

You know all of the properties that vitamin A has – sorting out your skin and various linings within the body, making your immune system stronger, helping you to see in the dimmer light, etc? Well all of those benefits you can get from beta-carotene too! All of the fresh fruits and vegetables that are either orange or yellow in color – those are the foods that contain this and this is why you should eat more of them!

When your body digests something that contains beta-carotene within it, it quickly turns it into vitamin A. From this point, your body gets all the effects that it would normally get from vitamin A, but gives you more food choices to get the vital minerals and vitamins that you need.

As we have mentioned, you will find this essential vitamin in foods that are yellow or orange in color – these include carrots, peppers, apricots, mangos and melons. You can also get the beta-carotene from spinach too. Try a spinach based side for your dinner tonight!

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Just as with many things in life you should be careful that you don’t have too much of a good thing. The weird thing is that beta-carotene is made into vitamin A in the body, but it doesn’t have the same effects as vitamin A when you eat lots of it.

The conversion rate of this into the A vitamin is fairly slow so scientists have said that the high levels of beta-carotene won’t be changed into vitamin A quickly enough to cause the same problems. However that is not to say that too much beta-carotene isn’t a bad thing.

If you are a smoker or have ever worked in an environment that has contained asbestos, you should most definitely avoid excess levels of beta-carotene in your diet. The development of lung cancer in those that smoke with an increase of this vitamin has been shown to be sped up and the chances increased. The same thing had a tendency to occur in those that had worked in asbestos environments.

Although studies are still ongoing, there was an increased link between a few cancers and beta-carotene although as yet, the evidence was inconclusive and there are still ongoing investigations. It would make sense to avoid having too much however – a healthy and balanced diet will give you plenty of the vitamin to get you through.

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