Nutritional & health benefits: overall immune system, good vision, healthy lungs, protection of mucus membrane lining
Beta-carotene is an inactive form of vitamin A that is found in many fruits and plants. Because it is so similar to vitamin A, Beta-carotene provides a lot of the same benefits that vitamin A does.
One of vitamin A's most well known health benefits, improved night vision, is also provided by beta-carotene. Taking healthy
doses of either vitamin A or beta-carotene can improve overall vision, and can also protect against serious vision problems like cataracts.
Like vitamin A, beta-carotene is an antioxidant which can be found in many fruits, vegetables, and supplements. Antioxidants major benefit to the body is neutralizing free radicals, which are naturally occurring unstable molecules that can cause damage to healthy cells in the body. Free radicals can contribute to a number of ailments, including heart disease, neurological disease, and many types of cancer.
Free radicals are also partially responsible for the physical aging of the human body. Taking antioxidants like beta-carotene can help protect against free radicals, and in turn help prevent all the health problems that free radicals cause.
Specifically, beta-carotene has been shown to help battle such conditions as lung cancer and oral cancer, but because of its antioxidant properties, it is likely that beta-carotene could be used to help with many types of cancer.
One caveat to this, however, is for smokers. Research has shown that smokers who take beta-carotene supplements actually have an increased chance of developing lung cancer. However, those who derived beta-carotene naturally from food did not show the same adverse efffects. So smokers and non-smokers alike - eat your carrots!
For those looking to increase their beta-carotene intake, it can be found in a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Beta-carotene actually has a red-orange pigment so foods that are red, orange, or yellow - like papayas, yams, mangoes, cantaloupe
and carrots - will contain high amounts of beta-carotene. Spinach and lettuce (especially the red-leaf variety) also offer up high amounts of this important nutrient.
Around the Web, learn more about the relationship of beta carotene and Vitamin A, along with related food sources and
studies suggesting its possible use in treating diseases....
More information about beta-carotene around the Web:
beta-carotene - Good factoids on the nutrient including a history of its discovery, what gives it its orange color, how it's converted to Vitamin A, natural sources and synthetic manufacturing with related links and references.
Beta-Carotene - WebMD - Get expert information from WebMD on recommended dosages, interactions, risks and benefits.