Beta Carotene & Carrots

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Carrots are rich in Beta Carotene

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Dictionary Definition - carotene (n.) Look up carotene at Dictionary.com hydrocarbon found in carrots and other plants, 1861, from German carotin, coined 1831 by German chemist H.W.F. Wackenroder (1789-1854) from Latin carota "carrot" (see carrot) + German form of chemical suffix -ine (2), denoting a hydrocarbon

Health Benefits - CharacteristicsMain SourcesDaily Needs

β-Carotene is an organic, strongly coloured red-orange pigment abundant in plants and fruits. It is a member of the carotenes, which are terpenoids (isoprenoids), synthesized biochemically from eight isoprene units and thus having 40 carbons. Among the carotenes, β-carotene is distinguished by having beta-rings at both ends of the molecule. β-Carotene is biosynthesized from geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate.[5] β-Carotene is the most common form of carotene in plants.

All the orange colour is beta carotene is the orange pigment found in carrots, therefore the whole of the orange carrots contains beta-carotene. One small raw carrot (100g) contains 8,353 international units of vitamin A, which includes 4,142 micrograms of beta-carotene.

Beta Carotene, along with other carotenoids, is a molecule that the body easily changes into Vitamin A.  While most nutrition labels will list a recommended amount of vitamin A to include in a healthy diet, most health professionals will recommend that beta carotene be the main source of that vitamin A consumption.  The reason for this is that beta carotene and other carotenoids are found mainly in fruits and vegetables which contain a host of other vitamins and minerals and are very low in fat.  Vitamin A, however, if consumed in its full form, is mainly found in butter and eggs.  Getting your recommenced daily allowance of vitamin A without using beta carotene would mean eating large amounts of saturated fats that would be incredibly unhealthy.  Once absorbed by the small intestines, beta carotene is changed directly into Vitamin A.


Of the 600 known carotenoids, beta-carotene is the most studied and the most physiologically and nutritionally important member of the carotene family. Beta Carotene

About 50 carotenoids have been identified in the human diet, 34 have been identified in the human serum, tissues, and breast milk. Of these, alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin are considered "essential " because they serve as precursors of vitamin A (converted to vitamin A by the body).

Discovery - Beta-carotene (C40 H56) is an orange pigment found in most fruits and vegetables. It was first isolated by Heinrich Wilhelm Ferdinand Wackenroder in 1831 in the roots of carrots and named the substance "carotin."  Wackenroder was an analytical chemist at the Pharmaceutical Institute in Jena, Germany.

The earliest studies on carotenoids date back to the beginning of the 19th century. Beta-carotene was first isolated by Wackenroder in 1831, and many other carotenoids were discovered and named during the 1800s, although their structures were still unknown. Not until 1907 was the empirical formula of beta-carotene, C40H56, established by Willstatter and Mieg. The structure was determined by the Nobel prize-winning research of Paul Karrer in 1930-31. This was the first time that the structure of any vitamin or provitamin had been established, and he received a Nobel prize for his work. Steenbock suggested in 1919 that there could be a relationship between beta-carotene and vitamin A. The concept of provitamins (molecules which are converted into vitamins by the body) was entirely new, and proved to have great significance scientifically and commercially.

The earliest use of synthesized beta-carotene was as a food colorant, but during the 1980s the vitamin precursor’s growing reputation as an antioxidant and a possible cancer-fighter resulted in its frequent inclusion in vitamin supplements. Since that time, however, conflicting findings about the benefits of taking synthesized beta-carotene have surfaced. In 1907, Richard Willstater assigned the formula C40 H56 to carotin - read more on carotenoids.   Or here - Live Science


Beta-carotene belongs to a class of chemical compounds called carotenoids. Among many other positive health benefits, carotenoids act as a precursor to vitamin A, so if you know about the benefits of vitamin A, you will completely understand the importance of beta-carotene.

Basically, when you consume foods or ingest supplements containing beta-carotene, it breaks down into vitamin A in your liver.

Beta-carotene is thought to possess many positive health benefits and in particular helps prevent night blindness and other eye problems.

It also effective in skin disorders, enhances immunity, protects against toxins and cancer formations, colds, flu, and infections. It is an antioxidant and protector of the cells while slowing the aging process.

It is considered that natural Beta-Carotene aids in cancer prevention. It is important in the formation of bones and teeth. No vitamin overdose can occur with natural Beta-Carotene. It has been reported that beta carotene offers a notable measure of photoprotection to individuals with porphyria. (Beta-Carotene helps to protect the eye and vision).

Vitamin A is necessary for a large number of metabolic functions similar to other vitamins.  One of the major unique functions of vitamin A is itīs role in vision, especially dim-light vision.  In third world countries where fruit and vegetables are not readily available, vitamin A deficiency is the leading cause of blindness in children.  Beta carotene is a rather cheap vitamin to produce, which means this type of blindness is easily preventable.beta carotene under miscroscope

Vitamin A produced from beta carotene is also necessary for normal cell growth and cell division.  DNA replication requires the presence of vitamin A to function properly.  Because of this, rapidly dividing cells often give the first signs of vitamin A deficiency.  These symptoms include poor skin quality, brittle hair