Beta Carotene: Benefits and Dietary Sources

(Dr Waseem Razaq, )

Beta Carotene is an antioxidant which is converted into vitamin A inside our body and plays an important role in health especially eye health. Basically it is red-orange pigment found in plants and vegetables like carrots and other colorful fruits and vegetables. The name come from the Greek "Beta" and Latin "Carota" (Carrot)
Beta Carotene is a member of the carotenes, which are terpenoids (isoprenoids) , it is synthesized biochemically from eight isoprene units and thus having 40 carbons . Beta carotene is distinguished from other carotenes due to having beta-ring at both end of molecule.

Benefits of Beta Carotene

Beta carotene is the best known provitamin A carotenoid. Its absorption and conversion in to vitamin A depends on its form, intake of fats or oils at the same time and thus its absorption efficiency is estimated from 9 to 20% .
Following are important benefits of beta carotene.

1. Plays role as an antioxidant: Like all carotenoids, beta carotene is an antioxidant and thus helps people' s improving immune systems, protect against free radicals and lower the risk of cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
2. Promotes Eye Health: According to researchers, taking beta carotene in combination with vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, and copper may reduce the risk of Age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Macular degeneration is a medical condition which may result in blurred or no vision in the center of the visual field.
3. Improves cognitive function:Cognitive functioning refers to multiple mental abilities, including learning, thinking, reasoning, remembering, problem solving, decision making, and attention. People with long term consumption of beta carotene are considerably less likely to experience cognitive decline. Oxidation stress is believed to be a key factor in cognitive decline and being an active antioxidant beta carotene may help prevent the deterioration cognition.
4. Keeps lungs healthy:Researchers have suggested that eating more fruits and vegetables rich in beta carotene may have protective effect against lung cancer.
5. Promotes skin health:Taking beta carotene improves skin health through reducing sun sensitivity and having very good effect for people with photosensitive diseases. It may also reduce the effect of phototoxic drugs.
Dietary Sources of Beta Carotene :

The following foods are rich in beta carotene :

• Carrots
• Apricots
• Broccoli
• Chives
• Grapefruits
• Cabbages
• Kale
• Herbs and spices
• Tomatoes and its products
• Peppers
• Onion
• Plums
• Peas
• Pumpkins and squash
• Spinach
• Sweet potatoes
• Margarine
Through consumption of healthy diet rich in beta carotene, we will not need of supplements as supplements can lead to undesirable excesses levels of beta carotene in the body which may have toxic effect: for instance, higher levels of beta carotene have been linked to higher incidence of lung cancer for smokers. but food sources are always the safest source of beta carotene and actually decrease the risk of cancer.
 

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18 Jan, 2021 Views: 697

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