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Beta-carotene is a bio-active substance, which is converted in the body into vitamin A. It is important for the immune system and in cellular communication. Beta-carotene also plays a role against aging of (skin) cells by excessive exposure to sunlight. Beta-carotene is an antioxidant: it protects the cells in the body from free radicals. Free radicals play a role in aging processes.
Beta-carotene is found in (dark) green leafy vegetables, such as spinach and endive, and in cabbage. Carrots also contain a lot of beta-carotene, like mangoes and mandarins. Beta-carotene is responsible for the characteristic color of orange and yellow fruits and vegetables. Beta-carotene is also available as synthetic preparation.
- Ensures, like vitamin A, a proper immune system.
- Important for good vision, in particular for the adaptation of the eyes to the darkness.
- Important for the preservation of a proper iron content in the blood.
- Protects the skin from damage by UV radiation.
- Supports the production of pigment (melanin).
- Plays a role in cell division process and growth.
- Important for healthy bones, teeth and skin.
A lower intake of beta-carotene will result in reduced production of vitamin A. If the intake of vitamin A comes directly from the diet and is also below the recommended daily amount, there can be a vitamin A shortage.
In case of a high dosage of beta-carotene, an orange or yellow discoloration of the skin and eyes may occur, but there are no indications that this has an impact on health. In case of a high intake of beta-carotene, no excess of vitamin A can occur, because the absorption of beta-carotene in the intestine and the conversion of beta-carotene by the body into vitamin A are automatically slowed down then. Smokers may possibly be, in case of intake of synthetic preparations with high dosages of beta-carotene, at increased risk of lung cancer.
- Beta-carotene would have a beneficial effect on skin diseases, such as psoriasis.
- Beta-carotene was discovered in 1831 by the German chemist Heinrich Wilhelm Ferdinand Wackenroder.
- The term ‘beta-carotene’ is derived from the Greek word bèta (second) and the Latin word carota (carrot).
- Provitamins are substances, that the body itself can convert into vitamins.
β-Carotene, Provitamin A