There is some merit to the old saying, “eat your carrots or you’ll go blind.” Carrots are an excellent source of beta-carotene and problems with the eyes are one symptom of a deficiency of beta-carotene. However, there are other sources of beta-carotene that offer a sufficient source of nutrients. It shouldn’t surprise you that vegetables and fruits are your best source of beta-carotene.
Why should you be concerned about beta-carotene? In addition to problems with the eyes, if you don’t consume the recommended amount of beta-carotene, your immune system may be at risk. Beta-carotene is an antioxidant and having sufficient amounts in your body means that toxic elements, bacterial and viral infections, and skin problems will have a more difficult time taking control over your system. If these benefits sound a lot like the benefits you receive with sufficient vitamin A, it’s because beta-carotene is a form of vitamin A referred to a carotenoid. Beta-carotene is found in plants and when once in the liver it is converted to vitamin A.
Scientists are always researching other uses of vitamins. There are reports that beta-carotene can help to prevent and treat cancer. Although there are just as many reports that contradict these findings, it makes sense because beta-carotene exists naturally in a wide assortment of vegetables and fruits, foods that are associated with lowering the risk of cancer. The discrepancy in the reports may be linked to how the test subjects were given beta-carotene. There is a possibility that beta-carotene supplementation is best when taken as part of a multi-vitamin group.
If you have been diagnosed with cancer, you shouldn’t take beta-carotene supplements without approval from your doctor. The investigations into the benefits of beta-carotene in cancer patients are still new and further research is required to obtain the best results.
While beta-carotene supplements in low doses are virtually side effect free, there is the chance that if you consume excessive amounts of beta-carotene supplements that your skin may turn an orange color. It is probably not a good idea to ever take vitamins in high doses, especially without a doctor’s approval.