CAROTENOIDS and VITAMIN A
Carotenoids are a class of compounds (phytochemicals; phyto meaning from plants) that give plants their yellow, red, green and orange color and can act as precursors of, and are related to, vitamin A. Some of these compounds act as antioxidants. Most widely recognized is the subclass known as carotenes, of which beta-carotene is best known. This subclass also includes alpha- and gamma-carotene, lutein and lycopene. The liver is responsible for converting beta-carotene to vitamin A. Beta-carotene wears another hat as an antioxidant, scavenging the body neutralizing free radicals and enhancing the immune system. This antioxidant form of beta-carotene, created from the leftovers after the liver converts beta-carotene to vitamin A, also prevents damage to our eyes, lungs and skin resulting from our exposure to sunlight and air pollution. Carotenoids also act as anticancer agents and inhibit heart disease.
Tomatoes, carrots,spinach, tomato juice, any orange, yellow, red or green vegetable. Remember to eat a "colorful" variety of vegetables every day. For a complete list of "healthy color", CLICK HERE.
Even though there are over 600 known carotenoids, science has not yet discovered all of the carotenoids.
- Xanthophylls, including Lutein (its role in preventing age-related eye disease is currently under investigation)
If you are pregnant, it is better to take beta-carotene than vitamin A. Use an emulsified form which is easier on the liver. Unlike vitamin A, no overdose can occur with beta-carotene although you make notice an orange/yellow tinge to your skin. Unless your liver cannot convert beta-carotene to vitamin A, beta-carotene is not harmful in larger amounts.
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