Beta Carotene is an antioxidant that protects the body against damage from molecules known as free radicals; however, scientists now believe that in large amounts, it could create more harm than good.
Beta Carotene is converted into vitamin A by the body. It is found in fruits and vegetables that are colorful. It is also available in supplement form. If we go back several decades we will find that doctors and scientists touted the health benefits of beta carotene, especially in relation to eye health and aging. Even today, many doctors encourage their patients to consume carrots and other bright colored vegetables to stave off aging and problems like macular degeneration. There is strong evidence to support the theory that Beta Carotene is key to good eye health and a strong immune system.
The problem according to scientists at Ohio State University is when Beta Carotene is consumed in excessive amounts. What the researchers have discovered is that too much of the substance creates the opposite effect…it actually blocks Vitamin A, which helps with eye health and the immune system. Vitamin A activates literally hundreds of genes. Not enough Vitamin A leads to damage within the body. The suspicion at this point is that the anti-vitamin action taking place within the body is having an impact on metabolism. The team of scientists involved in the study says they need to conduct more research to know for certain.
The researchers believe their findings could explain why previous clinical trials showed that people who were heavily supplementing with Beta Carotene had an increased risk of lung cancer.
The Ohio State University research isn’t the first signs of concern over the consumption of Beta Carotene. Countless warnings have gone out to smokers about the damage it can create. If you are a smoker, you are advised to avoid Beta Carotene supplements or consuming excessive amounts of Beta Carotene through fruits and vegetables. Studies show that it could actually increase your risk of lung cancer.
Despite the latest findings about Beta Carotene, researchers are not suggesting that the general population avoid foods rich in color. The benefits in terms of eye health, our immune system and anti-aging are relevant. The U.S Department of Health and the Mayo Clinic insist that if you are going to get your Beta Carotene through supplements then simply follow proper guidelines for consumption and discuss your intake with your doctor.
If you plan on using food as your only Beta Carotene source then here are some good suggestions:
• Red Peppers
Scientists believe that damage from any vitamin source can be avoided when proper dosage and consultation with medical professionals takes place. It’s when people take matters into their own hands, experiment, and over consume that problems arise.