Beta carotene is one group of natural chemicals which render yellow-orange color to certain vegetables. It is required by the body for the synthesis of vitamin A. It has magnificent antioxidant properties. Besides, it also offers several health benefits, which include:
- Prevention against cancer and heart diseases
- Delaying the progression of cataracts
- Prevention of muscular degeneration
- Immune boosting
- Protecting the skin against sunburn
- Parkinson's disease
- High blood pressure
- Cervical dysplasia
- Intermittent claudication.
Beta Carotene Toxicity
Toxicity is the result of over-intake of beta carotene, especially the supplements. Its symptoms include nausea, vomiting, blurring of vision, loss of senses, etc. These symptoms occur pretty instantly after you consume large doses of beta carotene supplements. You must immediately see a doctor during such an occasion. Even a little delay can prove fatal. Active symptoms of may lead to initial stages of hypervitaminosis A.
Hypervitaminosis A is the condition which refers to the effects of over-intake of vitamin A. There is a recommended limit for the intake of vitamin A. If the dosage exceeds this recommended limit, then you may suffer from hypervitaminosis. Skin discoloration or a yellowish tint to the skin is the main symptom of hypervitaminosis. Besides, there are many problems involved, such as birth defects, liver problems, osteoporosis, hair loss, etc. Yet another reason for hypervitaminosis apart from excess beta carotene is an excessive consumption.
This is yet another effect of beta carotene toxicity. As the name suggests, it affects the skin the most. Excessive intake of beta carotene supplements is responsible for this. Palms and soles of feet turn yellowish and pale. However, the effects of this disorder can be easily reversed by completely stopping the consumption of supplements, until the symptoms vanish completely. Later on, you can derive the benefits of beta carotene from it's natural sources.
Beta carotene toxicity is particularly harmful for smokers. It increases the risk of lung cancer among people who smoke. Active smokers should never take beta carotene supplements. The reason is, that metabolites in beta carotene destroys retinoic acid, an element that suppresses cancer growth in lungs. Moreover, these metabolites also activate the proteins responsible for cell division.
Although, it is true that beta carotene has several health benefits, its excess intake has equal health risks. The best way to fulfill body's requirement of beta carotene is, by incorporating beta carotene rich vegetables like carrots, sweet potato, pumpkin, dark green vegetables, etc. Adequate consumption of these natural sources alleviates the need of supplements and thus, reduces the risk of toxicity.