Beta-carotene is probably the most well known of the carotenoids, a phytonutrients family that represents of the one most widespread groups of naturally occurring pigments.
Beta-carotene is the pigment that gives carrots, sweet potatoes, and other yellow vegetables their characteristic coloring. This conjugated polyene also serves as a precursor that can be enzymatically converted into vitamin A in most animals and man. It is an antioxidant, like vitamins E and C
Beta-carotene is necessary for growth & repair of body tissues; helps maintain smooth, soft disease-free skin; helps protect the mucous membranes of the mouth, nose, throat & lungs, thereby reducing susceptibility to infections; protects against air pollutants; counteracts night-blindness & weak eyesight; aids in bone and teeth formation. Current medical research shows that foods rich in Beta Carotene will help reduce the risk of lung cancer & certain oral cancers. Unlike Vitamin A from fish liver oil, Beta Carotene is non-toxic.
- Prevention against cancer and heart disease
- To slow the progression of cataracts
- To prevent macular degeneration
- To boost immunity
- To protect the skin against sunburn
- Parkinson’s disease
Deficiency of beta-carotene
A deficiency of beta-carotene may result in night blindness; increased susceptibility to infections; loss of smell & appetite; frequent fatigue; lack of tearing; defective teeth & gums, retarded growth,brittle fingernails, cirrhosis of the liver, corneal ulcers, diarrhea, obstruction of the bile ducts, rough, dry, or prematurely aged skin, skin blemishes, softening of bones and teeth, sties in the eye, ulcerative colitis, xerosis.
Food Source of Beta-carotene
- Yellow/orange vegetables – carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, winter squash
- Yellow/orange fruits – apricots, cantaloupes, papayas, mangoes, carambolas, nectarines, peaches
- Dark green leafy vegetables – spinach, broccoli, endive, kale, chicory, escarole, watercress and beet leaves, turnips, mustard, dandelion
- Other good vegetable and fruit sources – summer squash, asparagus, peas, sour cherries, prune plums.
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