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Carrots Carotenoids and Beta Carotene

Carotenoids & Beta Carotene in Carrots and Carrot Juice

Carrots

  • When traditional diets were studied in native populations consuming these diets rich in unprocessed natural foods, it was found that these diets were 10 times higher in Vitamin A and Vitamin D47.
  • The paleolithic diets of the hunter-gatherer were rich in beta-carotene from vegetables and fruit and beta-carotene is a precursor to Vitamin A.
  • When our ancient ancestors ate an animal, the organ meats were prized and for good reason as these were a rich source of omega-3 essential fatty acids and a multitude of micronutrients with the liver being a rich source of Vitamin A .
  • Vitamin A deficiency emerged after the agricultural revolution with increasing use of grains in the diet. Grains have no Vitamin A48.
  • A lack of Vitamin A will lead to a condition called 'xerophthalmia' which describes dry eyes. In its severe form, this can lead to blindness.This is a preventable disease where very inexpensive supplementation with Vitamin A can prevent this disease progressing to irreversible corneal ulceration.Up to 500,000 children become blind each year in developing countries due to malnourishment.
  • Night blindness is one of the first signs of Vitamin A deficiency.
  • Zinc deficiency often accompanies Vitamin A deficiency and this adds to the insult because zinc is needed to synthesize Retinol Binding Protein (RBP) a carrier protein required for Vitamin A transport49.

Concentration of beta-carotene in carrot juice vs raw carrots

Food Serving Beta-Carotene (mg)
Carrot Juice 1 cup (236 ml) 22
Carrot, Raw 1 Medium 5.1

Reference: LPI

  • It can be seen by the table above, that just 1 cup or 1 standard glass of  carrot juice, will supply a significant amount beta-carotene far beyond that of eating raw carrots.
  • The carotenoids are associated with proteins in the plant matrix and this lowers the bioavailability of these compounds.
  • Chopping, cooking and juicing disrupts this plant matrix thus increasing carotenoid bioavailability significantly .

Beta-carotene and Retinol Equivalents

  • In food, beta-carotene has 1/12th the activity of retinol which is pre-formed Vitamin-A
  • As a result, it would take 12 mcg (micrograms) of beta-carotene from foods to provide the equivalent of just 1 mcg (0.001 mg) of retinol. Reference: LPI

Conversion to Vitamin-A - A braking mechanism for safety

  • Vitamin-A can be toxic in high amounts and thus it is far safer to have beta-carotene in the form of carrot juice daily.
  • The reason for this is that the body decreases the conversion of beta-carotene when the body has produced adequate amounts of Vitamin-A.

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