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BETA-CAROTENE; THE PROVITAMIN A CAROTENOID

Eating foods with beta-carotene can improve respiratory and pulmonary function. It helps increase lung capacity and relieve respiratory ailments such as asthma, bronchitis, phlegm production, shortness of breath, and wheezing.

Audrey Wendy Woode
Audrey Wendy Woode

Why is there a growing collection of information or advice on the importance of eating fruits and vegetables? An answer that is most likely to come to mind immediately is: because they are healthy and very beneficial to our lives.  It isn’t only about fruits and vegetables but in general, there is a propagation of healthy and nutritious eating habits. A category of nutrient that has so many benefits and cannot be overemphasized is Vitamin A. Inferring from my topic, One may ask: what is a carotenoid?

Do you realize how vibrant the colours of most fruits and vegetables are? Well, carotenoids are those naturally occurring pigments that are found in plants and are responsible for giving them those vibrant colours. Another person may also ask: What is provitamin A Carotenoid then? Is it different from the Vitamin A we know of? Don’t be in a haste dear, I got you. If something is considered to be a provitamin A, it only means that it is not an Active Vitamin A that is commonly known as Retinol but then, it is easier for the body to do that conversion to turn it into Retinol for the body to use. Now, let us talk about the main subject: BETA-CAROTENE.

Generally, Vitamin A is in two forms: Active vitamin A, which is also known as Retinol and that comes from animal-derived foods. Active Vitamin A can be used directly by the body, there is no need for conversion and that is what makes it different from provitamin A. The second form of vitamin A is where our subject: Beta-carotene comes in. Beta-carotene is a type of carotenoid that is found primarily in plants and needs to be converted into Active Vitamin A before the body can make use of it.

When you hear the name, Beta-carotene, I am positive that the name of a vegetable will come to mind. Carrot right? If that came to mind, you’re not wrong and it is definitely not a coincidence because it is a derivation of the Latin name “carota”, because it was first derived from the carrot roots. It is a strongly coloured pigment that gives the yellow and orange fruits and vegetables their rich colours. My dear friend reading this, as humans, we need vitamin A for so many things such as for healthy skin, good eye health and vision, immune system, among many others and therefore, eating foods that are rich in beta-carotene will help us have these and many more. I will let you in on some of the benefits of consuming foods that are rich in beta-carotene and then from hence, stuff yourself with those foods! Don’t mind me, just eat them often. Let’s delve right in!

1.    Know that Beta-carotene, just like all carotenoids, is an antioxidant. Wait, I’ll explain.  You see, in our bodies, sometimes there can be some unstable atoms that can damage cells, cause illnesses, cause ageing etc. and these atoms are called free radicals. So, what antioxidant does is that, it protects the body from these free radicals, hence if your diet is rich in antioxidants, it helps your immune system as well.

2.    I believe you do not want to ever experience coronary heart disease, nor do you wish it for anyone you love. If that is the case, let your diet be rich in beta-carotene because it reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases when it works with vitamin E to reduce cholesterol. If someone has a lot of cholesterol, the person should consume beta-carotene rich foods so as not to stand a chance of heart diseases. Some studies have even suggested that those who consume at least four daily servings of beta-carotene rich fruits and vegetables have a lower risk of heart disease.

3.    I bet cancer is one disease no one ever wants to be a victim of, whether it is of the lungs, breast, stomach etc. Well, I’m here to let you know that our dear beta-carotene helps fight cancer. How? It helps keep your cells in proper communication hence preventing the development of cancer cells. You have a low risk of being a victim of breast, colon, oral cavity and lung cancers if your beta-carotene is part of your diet.

4.    A diet that is rich in beta-carotene is a must if you want your brain to be very active as opposed to cognitive ageing. It significantly delays cognitive ageing and fights oxidative stress that can damage your brain cells over time. Due to this, you have a low risk of dementia.

5.    This one is for my pregnant women and my lactating mothers. Vitamin A is one of the most essential vitamins needed during pregnancy and breastfeeding. It plays a very vital role in the healthy development of the fetus and the newborn, with lung development and maturation being particularly important, It also builds strong immune systems in infants and toddlers.

6.    Still around the subject of reproduction, consumption of beta-carotene before, during and after pregnancy might decrease complications after childbirth such as diarrhoea and fever. It also helps to reduce the risk of pregnancy-related death in underfed women.

7.    I know a lot of people especially, ladies are very particular about their skin and how it looks. Who enjoys walking under the sun and having the sunburn you anyway? 99% of people, both genders, don’t! Well, unless you’re sunbathing. Beta-carotene protects the skin against sunburn especially for people who are very sensitive to the sun and it increases the basal defence against skin damage caused by UV light.

8.    A common benefit of vitamin A that every tom, dick and harry is how good it is for eyesight or vision. Therefore, consuming beta-carotene delays the progression and reduces the risk of age-related degeneration in vision or eyesight which sometimes if very severe, can lead to irreversible blindness.

9.    Eating foods with beta-carotene can improve respiratory and pulmonary function. It helps increase lung capacity and relieve respiratory ailments such as asthma, bronchitis, phlegm production, shortness of breath, and wheezing.

10.  Can I let you in on something? Did you know that a lot of cosmetics have beta-carotene in them? This is because it is often used as a cosmetic colourant and it's also used as a food colouring. There are over 600 known carotenoids, but Beta-carotene is one of the best-known carotenoid used in cosmetics.

11. For glowing skin lovers, consume foods rich in beta-carotene because it prevents premature ageing, it gives a natural glow to your skin, thus making it beautiful and attractive. Avoid excess intake though as it can cause the soles of your feet, palms, nose and the white portion of your eyes to turn pumpkin yellow in colour.

12. It is also very effective in the treatment of skin conditions like dry skin, eczema, boils and removes age spots. It also speeds up the healing of skin cuts and wounds.

13. Who hates dandruff as I do? If you do, yaaaayyyy! Beta-carotene is good for preventing and treating dandruff as a deficiency in vitamin A is a causative factor for dry, dull, lifeless hair, and dry scalp which can flake off into dandruff.

14. Last but not least, for my ladies suffering from hair loss, it is mostly a result of poor nutrition and consuming foods that are rich in beta-carotene can stop hair loss and encourage hair regrowth.

Now that I have revealed to you the benefits of consuming beta-carotene, how about I let you know the examples of foods that are rich in beta-carotene. Someone may probably be saying, “you keep saying consume foods that are rich in beta-carotene, and how am I supposed to consume them, when I don’t even know them?” If you’re this person, I’m getting right into that. No worries!

Mangoes, watermelons, peaches, tomatoes, oranges, grapefruit, apricots, broccoli, carrots, cabbage, dandelion leaves, ketchup, onions, peas, pepper, pumpkin, spinach, squash, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, lettuce, kale, French beans, cantaloupes, guava, papaya, plums, walnuts, pistachio, basil, parsley, thyme, chilli powder, oregano, paprika etc. are good examples of fruits, vegetables as well as a few herbs that are rich in beta-carotene and are good for consumption.

If you didn’t know about beta-carotene, well you have been served. Consume foods rich in it and see the above-listed benefits. Thank me later! And oh, don’t forget to give me feedback on your overall health and your glowing skin the next time we meet. Good luck!

Audrey Wendy Woode

A determined, hardworking and result-oriented lady. I love to read, write, swim, etc. I'm a media enthusiast. I love to connect with people.