Carotenoids are powerful anti-aging antioxidants, protecting the cells of the body from damage caused by free radicals. Carotenoids do not work in isolation, but in combination with each other and some of the network antioxidants, including vitamins C and E, alpha-lipoic acid, and the antioxidant enzymes manufactured by your body.
Beta carotene supplements are called "provitamin A" compounds because the body converts them into retinol, an active form of vitamin A. It's generally better to use beta carotene supplements instead of vitamin A; because they're water-soluble, you'll avoid the toxicity issue of large dosages of fat-soluble vitamin A.
Beta carotene supplements may offer
these specific benefits:
Carotenoids are found in fruits and vegetables that are red, orange, and deep yellow in color, and some dark green leafy vegetables. They are absorbed much better when you eat them with fats. Cooking vegetables also loosens the carotene from the fiber of the vegetable and greatly increases the amount available to the body.
The best food sources of beta carotene are:
For more information on beta carotene, go to my page on
Beta Carotene Benefits
Food Equivalents of Beta Carotene Supplements. One of the reasons for using a tablet or capsule form of carotenes is the high dosages you can get without eating greens all day. If you want to treat some existing health problem or symptom, you may have to use supplements in addition to your dietary intake to get a high enough dosage — usually about 25,000IU. This dosage is also typical of the dosages used in research studies to demonstrate beta carotene's powerful antioxidant protection from cancer and heart disease.
To put this in perspective, in order for you to get 25,000IU of beta-carotene from your diet, you would have to eat these amounts of any one of the following:
• 3 medium cooked carrots, or
• 3 sweet potatoes
This illustrates very clearly how much you'd have to eat to get the benefits of adding just one daily mixed carotene supplement to your diet.
Look for supplements containing natural, mixed carotenoids made from algae called Dunaliella salina. When taking carotenoid supplements, it's best to take a mixture that includes a number of varieties, including alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and cryptoxanthin. Taking beta-carotene alone, especially the synthetic form, can actually reduce absorption of other carotenoids, such as lutein.
The carotene content of supplements is usually listed in international units (IU). Look for a daily dose of 25,000IU. You'll need at least that much to get the full antioxidant benefits of the carotenoids.
Supplementing with Individual Carotenoids. Some carotenoids, such as lutein and lycopene, may be worth supplementing on their own if you are looking for specific benefits and need a very high dosage. Amounts included in mixed-carotene supplements aren't usually large enough for this.
Mixed-carotene supplements come in a water-soluble form of carotene, so high dosages are safe. Any excess will just be excreted in your urine. While each carotenoid has its own benefits, supplementing with a mix has proven to be more effective than using just any individual one.
Another way of easily increasing your intake of carotenes is to use one of the many concentrated green superfood powders made from chlorella, spirullna, wheat grass, barley grass powders, or some combination of them. Any of these can be blended into a smoothie with some protein powder and fruit to sweeten the taste.
Check out all of my recommended green superfood powders
at my page on Green Superfood Powders
For more information on all of the carotenoids,
go to my page on The Carotenoids
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