Vitamin A as Beta Carotene - Supports Eye and Skin Health
Vitamin A, better known as Beta Carotene, is a versatile vitamin that plays a key role in many bodily functions. Although it has also been found to combat free radicals, it also protects against infection and cancer.
Its major roles include supporting reproduction and growth, promoting vision, and participating in protein synthesis and cell differentiation thereby maintaining the health of epithelial tissues and the skin.
Beta carotene is known to improve night vision and is essential to the long lasting health of the eyes.
Taken as Beta Carotene, it's one of the best vitamins for the health and maintenance of the elasticity of your skin.
Beta Carotene, vitamin B complex, and vitamin E are the most important vitamins for healthy skin!
Many studies have been done in the last twenty years, on the side effects of taking a Beta Carotene supplement. Some conclusions were wildly enthusiastic however some were borderline alarmist. The varied conclusions were based largely on intrinsically flawed methods, peculiar dosing regimens, skewed patient populations, and varied supplement forms. This made a sensible interpretation down right impossible.
However, there was one consistency across the board; that people who consume plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables over a lifetime, are generally healthier and have a lower risk of heart attack, stroke, cancer, and dementia, than people whose intake of fresh fruits and vegetables is limited.
The National Cancer Institute in China found that taking just 15 mg. of beta carotene daily along with selenium and vitamin E, reduced the incidence of lung cancer in smokers.
The Harvard Nurses Study of 87,000 women found that high intake of the A vitamin reduced the risk of heart disease by 22 percent. In women consuming the highest amounts of vitamin C, E and A, the risk of heart disease dropped by almost 50 percent. High intakes of all three vitamins reduced the risk of stroke by 54 percent.
A study done at the University of Arizona found that older men and women taking 30-60 mg of supplement A vitamin daily for 2 months, increased the number of natural killer-T helper cells and activated lymphocytes.
Researchers at M.D. Anderson Cancer center in Houston found that middle aged men who consumed foods rich in vitamin C and A, had a significantly lower risk mortality than their counterparts who ate less of those nutrients.
Data from the Alzheimer's Clinic at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine showed that over a lifetime, healthy persons generally consume significantly greater amounts of vitamin C, A, and Carotenoids than do patients with Alzheimer's Disease.
According to the latest studies, if you`re deficient in vitamin A, vitamin D cannot function properly either. Proper balances of these two vitamins is essential, however the optimal ratios are unknown at this time.
The ongoing Physicians Study in Boston found that prostate cancer was 36 percent more likely to develop in men with the lowest Beta Carotene consumption.
Because carotenoid's are fat-soluble, they require the presence of dietary fat for proper absorption through the digestive tract. Consequently, they may be impaired by a diet that is extremely low in fat or if you have a medical condition that causes a reduction in the ability to absorb dietary fat such as pancreatic enzyme deficiency, Crohn's disease, celiac's disease, cystic fibrosis, surgical removal of part or all of the stomach, gall bladder disease, and liver disease.
Due to low consumption of fruits and vegetables, many young adults do not consume enough beta-carotene.
In addition, if you smoke cigarettes and/or drink alcohol, you may have very low blood levels of beta-carotene. Statistically, smokers and drinkers eat fewer foods that contain beta-carotene. Also, researchers suspect that cigarette smoke destroys carotenoids.
However, if you do smoke or drink, you may want to take Vitamin A with caution. The results of two research studies indicate that those who smoke heavily and drink alcohol regularly, may increase their chance of developing lung cancer and/or heart disease if they take beta-carotene supplements in amounts greater than 20-30 milligrams per day.
Unlike supplements, foods rich in beta-carotene pose no known lung cancer risk. Synthetic beta-carotene supplements may increase the risk of both colo-rectal and lung cancer in smokers, especially those who also drink alcohol regularly.
A study published in January 2004, indicated that beta-carotene consumed as part of whole foods has no such negative effects. This study pooled data from seven large cohort studies running between 7 and 16 years and involved a population of 399,765 participants in North America and Europe. Researchers found that beta-carotene from foods were not associated with any increased risk of lung cancer among current smokers or non-smokers.
Therefore, it is also recommended that you take a Beta Carotene supplement that is 'natural' rather than 'synthetic'.
Foods that Contain High Amounts of Beta Carotene Naturally
Foods with the most naturally occurring Beta Carotene activity are brightly colored – green, yellow, orange, and red.
Broccoli, Sweet Potatoes
1/2 C. Cooked
1/2 C. Raw
1 Hard Boiled
1/2 C. baked
Other foods which contain Vitamin A include: kale, spinach, turnip greens, winter squash, collard greens, cilantro and fresh thyme.
Benefits of Beta Carotene Food Consumption
Protect cells from the damaging effects of free radicals
Most of the articles I’ve read, (from the old school), recommend 10,000 IU per day, but it has been clinically shown that taking up to 50,000 IU daily would NOT be toxic, even though vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin. Levels higher than that may be toxic to the body because Beta Carotene is a fat soluble vitamin, so take caution taking larger doses of this vitamin. Of course, deficiencies also exist.
Always consult your physician before using natural remedies, especially for anyone with preexisting conditions or anyone currently taking prescription medications. Although many efforts are made to ensure that the advice given on this site is professionally sound, the advice is not intended to replace a mutual relationship with a medical provider.