Carotenes are substances found in food which can be converted to vitamin A as the body requires. Beta carotene is the best known of the carotenes as it is readily converted to vitamin A and is abundant in many foods. Other carotenes include lycopene, alpha carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin.

Carotenes are also beneficial because they act as antioxidants and help to protect the body against heart disease, cancer, eye damage and other disorders.

CarotenesAbsorption and metabolism

Carotenes require fat and bile acids for absorption.


Diets low in carotenes may lead to increased risk of cancer and heart disease.


Good sources include yellow, orange and dark green fruits and vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots, broccoli, spinach and apricots. Some carotenes are used by the food industry as yellow food coloring.

Daily recommended dietary intakes

There is no RDA for beta carotene. Some experts recommend a daily intake of 10 to 30 mg.

Toxic effects of excess intake

Beta carotene is safe even at high doses. Some areas of skin maybecome orange/yellow in color if high doses are taken for long periods. This clears when intake is reduced. There is the possibility of menstrual abnormalities with long-term excessive intake.

Therapeutic uses of supplements

Beta carotene supplements have been used to prevent cancer, heart disease, autoimmune diseases and eye damage; and to boost immune function. Lycopene may help to prevent prostate cancer and lutein may help to prevent macular degeneration.


Recent research suggests that large doses of beta carotene may actually increase the risk of cancer in those who drink alcohol and smoke heavily.

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Carotenes Categories:

Carotenes Health
Carotenes Absorption
Carotenes Sources



Other Vitamins:

Vitamin A
Beta carotene
Vitamin B6
Vitamin B12
Pantothenic acid
Vitamin C
Vitamin D
Vitamin E
Vitamin K