Beta carotene is one of the family of highly pigmented fat soluble compounds that are present in many of the vegetables and fruits, grains and certain oils. This substance can be converted by the body into Vitamin A. Beta carotene can be found in yellow, red and deep green foods such as carrots, squash, apricots, sweet potatoes, green peppers and greens such as turnip greens and spinach. Other carotenes that we do not hear much about that can also be converted to Vitamin A are your alpha and gamma carotenes.
Beta carotene is essential to our health as stated above it converts to Vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is responsible for helping to improve eyesight. It works on adjusting our eyes when we move from areas of dark to light and vice versa. Vitamin A also is responsible for helping to keep all of the mucous membranes of the body such as the eyes, nose, and mouth moist. When these membranes are moist and healthy it keeps harmful bacteria from entering the body and infecting us with disease. It helps keep the skin healthy along with Vitamin E as well.
Some research has pointed to the fact that diets that are rich with beta carotene may be helpful in reducing the chances of contracting cancer in the future. It has been shown in the past that deficiency or low levels of Vitamin A are typically present in people who are more susceptible to viral illness. Vitamin A deficiencies have been known to lead to abnormal bone development eye disorders, problems with the reproductive system, and ultimately if not rectified, death.
Crude palm oil has one of the highest amounts of beta carotene of any vegetable or nut known at this time however it is usually refined out of the oil before it reaches store shelves for consumers. That being said most beta carotene supplements and other carotenes that are used for medical or other health purposes come from natural sources come from palm oil, algae or other fungal sources. Beta carotene can be converted to retinol which is used widely to combat a lot of skin conditions as well as being used to combat dry eye syndrome and other conditions of the eye. Retinol is widely used to treat acne both in over the counter preparations and prescription creams and ointments as well.
There are many health benefits of eating a diet that is rich in beta carotene. As stated above, beta carotene is a powerful antioxidant in its own right. Antioxidants are responsible for keeping our cell production and rejuvenation.
Researchers have linked having adequate amounts of antioxidants in the diet such as the beta carotenes to prevent premature aging. As stated above Vitamin A is used in many skin preparations. It stands to reason that having a diet that is rich in beta carotene would be beneficial to having healthy skin.
Other benefits that have been attributed to antioxidants such as beta carotenes are the ability to reduce our risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease. Vitamin A has been linked to being helpful in helping to reduce our risk of disease. Researchers have found that people who have chronic viral illnesses such as Hepatitis A or AIDS are very likely to have Vitamin A deficiencies. They believe that the deficiency in Vitamin A increases our risk of contracting viral illness.
Beta carotene is readily available in many fruits and vegetables so there should be no reason that anyone could not include it in their daily diet. For those who are unable or chose not to however there are supplements readily available that are easily attained at your local pharmacy or health food store. As with any health food supplement if you have any questions, concerns, or have any type of chronic medical issue please contact your medical professional prior to taking any of these supplements to make sure of their safety in your daily routine.
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