Beta-carotene is a nutrient that is especially loved by models for their ability to treat acne and slow down skin ageing. Before you consider upping your beta-carotene intake or taking a beta-carotene supplement, there are just a few things you should know.
[dropcap]B[/dropcap]eta-carotene (a.k.a. β-carotene) naturally occurs in red pigmented fruits and vegetables. It is a pro-vitamin A carotenoid, which means that the body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A (a.k.a. retinol); an essential micro-nutrient that is important for heathy skin and a strong immune system in general.
Beta-carotene functions as an antioxidant. Antioxidants are responsible for limiting oxidation, protecting the body from free radicals that damage cells. In practice this means that regarding the skin, beta-carotene increases skin health, treats acne, prevents premature skin ageing, treats acne, repairs sun damage to the skin and is beneficial in scar treatment due to its influence on blood circulation.
Fresh fruits & vegetables vs. supplementation
Beta-carotene can be incorporated by eating red pigmented fruits and vegetables as well as by taking a beta-carotene supplement. Taking a supplement is a very convenient way to incorporate beta-carotene; you don’t have to think about the source from which to get your beta-carotene or how much of that source you need to incorporate.
Beta-carotene supplementation can be dangerous though; taking an overdose of beta-carotene can lead to too much vitamin A in the body, which in turn can lead to infertility, birth defects when an overdose is taken during pregnancy, hair loss, osteoporosis and permanent liver damage. Long term use of vitamin A and beta-carotene supplementation may even lead to an increased risk of developing lung cancer in smokers and ex-smokers.
Fresh fruits & vegetables
While beta-carotene supplementation can cause a vitamin A overdose, eating red pigmented fruits and vegetables can’t; conversion of beta-carotene to vitamin A stops as soon as your body has had enough vitamin A. This makes incorporating beta-carotene from red fruits and veggies a much safer ànd tastier option!
List of fruits and vegetables high in beta-carotene
Here’s a list of beta-carotene-rich fruits and vegetables:
- Chinese cabbage
- Dandelion leaves
- Herbs & Spices – chilli powder, oregano, paprika, parsley
- Many margarines
- Sweet potatoes
How much do you need?
Eating 5 servings a day of the fruits and vegetables listed above provides 6-8 mg of beta-carotene per day. But how much beta-carotene do you need to take exactly to benefit from the nutrient?
Unfortunately, beta-carotene dose finds itself in a grey area. There has no recommended daily dose been set, as scientific research is limited in this field. According to MayoClinic, beta-carotene dose depends on patient and health problem. To prevent sun burn in sun sensitive people, for instance, a daily dose of 25 mg of beta-carotene is sufficient. If you want to know for sure how much beta-carotene you need, it is best to consult your doctor.
In short: beta-carotene is a pro-vitamin A that is converted into vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is an essential micro-nutrient that is important for amongst others skin health. Vitamin A is also beneficial in preventing premature skin ageing, treating acne, scar healing and sun damage to the skin, making it a loved vitamin by models.
Supplementing beta-carotene can lead to a vitamin A overdose, while incorporating beta-carotene from a natural source can’t. An overdose of vitamin A may cause health risks, ranging from infertility to an increased risk of lung cancer for smokers and ex-smokers.
It is hard to set an exact advice on the amount of beta-carotene needed, as scientific research is limited and dose is dependend on age and health problem. It is therefore best to incorporate beta-carotene from natural sources, such as sweet potato, carrots and asparagus, as beta-carotene from natural sources can’t be converted into a vitamin A overdose.
Intrested in supplementing anyway? Consult your doctor for advice and your personal dosage.
Avoid the risk of a vitamin A overdose, stay on the safe side & eat fresh beta-carotene foods!
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