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What Is Beta-Carotene?

Beta-carotene is a phytochemical, found in fruits and vegetables, that is converted in the body into vitamin A. Vitamin A is needed for good vision and eye health, for a strong immune system, and for healthy skin and mucus membranes.

This conversion is a safer way to get your vitamin A, than eating large quantities of vitamin A-rich foods such as liver, or vitamin supplements (which contain Ďpre- formedí vitamin A). Pre-formed vitamin A can accumulate in the body to harmful levels, but the body canít store and accumulate beta-carotene. Itís only converted as you need it, so you canít overdose. The worst that could happen to you if you ate too much beta-carotene-rich foods, such as carrots, is that your skin could turn an orangey color! This hue would soon disappear as your diet returned to normal.

Food sources of beta-carotene include sweet potatoes, carrots, kale, spinach, turnip greens, winter squash, collard greens, cilantro and fresh thyme.

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