Beta Carotene and its Health Benefits
Authors: Priti Saha1, Rajesh Bajaj2
1 Ph.D Scholar, Dairy Chemistry Division, National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal-132001, Haryana, India
2 Principal Scientist, Dairy Chemistry Division, National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal-132001, Haryana, India
Beta (β)-carotene belongs to a class of chemical compounds called carotenoids. It is a red-orange pigment found in plants and fruits, especially carrots and colorful vegetables. β-carotene is the most abundant form of provitamin A in fruits and vegetables. The human body converts β-carotene into vitamin A (retinol). It is also a very potent antioxidant.
Chemical nature of β-carotene:
The chemical formula of β-carotene is C40H 56. β-carotene is an organic compound and is classified as a hydrocarbon, specifically as a terpenoid. In addition, β-carotene is a non-polar compound and is lipophilic, which means that it has the ability to dissolve in fats, oils, lipids, and other nonpolar solvents. Its molar mass is 536.87g/mol, has a density of 0.94g/cm 3, melting point of 180 degrees Celsius, and boiling point of 633 to 677 degrees Celsius.
Source of β-carotene:
The following foods are rich in β-carotene:
Apricots, asparagus, broccoli, carrots, chinese cabbage, chives, dandelion leaves, grapefruit
herbs and spices - chilli powder, oregano, paprika, parsley, kale, ketchup, many margarines
onions, peas, peppers, plums, pumpkin, spinach, squash, sweet potatoes.
Health benefits of β-carotene:
β -carotene has also been shown to protect from photo aging associated mitrochondrial DNA mutations which may play a role in carcinogenesis. The various effect of β-carotene against the cancer is still under study.
Supplementation of β-carotene, Vitamin C, and Vitamin E, independently or in combination has shown to positive effect to decrease cataract.
People whose diets are rich in β-carotene have lower risk of heart disease. β-carotene works with vitamin E to reduce the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, which lowers the risk of atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease.
Respiratory system problems-
High intakes of β-carotene and vitamin C found to increased lung capacity and relieve respiratory problems, as well as protect from breathing disorders such as asthma, bronchitis and emphysema.
β -carotene helps activate thymus gland, one of the most important sources of immune protection. The thymus gland stimulates your immune system to fight off infections and viruses, as well as destroy cancerous cells before they can spread.
Combining β-carotene with Vitamins E and Vitamins C offers significant protect against ultraviolet radiation from the sun, as well as from chemotherapy.
Studies have shown that people with low levels of β-carotene in their bodies are much more likely to suffer from impaired glucose tolerance and diabetes. In combination of β-carotene with Vitamins E and Vitamins C has potential effect on diabetes.
Low levels of β-carotene have been found to be a risk factor for rheumatoid arthritis.
Additional β-carotene benefits include-
• Plays a significant role in prevention vision problems
• Effective as a treatment for dry skin, eczema and psoriasis
• Prevents oxidative damage from strenuous exercise
About Author / Additional Info:
I am currently working as a Dairy Development Officer under government of Tripura