Nights out on the town, sunbathing and many other enjoyable activities in life can all take their toll on your skin. This can leave you looking older than your years. Beta-carotene, whether in food or supplement form, can help keep your skin healthy and alleviate symptoms of certain skin conditions.
If you’ve ever wondered what gives carrots and yellow and orange peppers their vibrant hues, it’s beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is a pigment found in plants. When you eat these foods, the beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A in your body. Vitamin A is essential for healthy cell growth, including skin cells.
Free radicals are formed in your body through internal processes, such as metabolism, and external factors, such as smoke. They damage your cells, including skin cells. Beta-carotene is an antioxidant. Antioxidants seek out free radicals in your body and prevent them from damaging your skin cells. Additionally, beta-carotene signals your body to shed old skin cells and make new ones, helping you maintain that youthful glow.
Beta-carotene may have additional benefits for those suffering from melasma. Melasma is characterized by darkened skin patches on the face, especially the upper cheeks, nose, lips and forehead. It is particularly common in women and even more so in pregnant women. In fact, it’s commonly referred to as the mask of pregnancy. According to Jessica Wu, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Southern California, beta-carotene may improve skin discoloration associated with melasma.
Scleroderma is a connective tissue disorder. Those suffering from it have hardened skin. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, scleroderma patients have low beta-carotene levels, making beta-carotene supplements a potential treatment for this condition.
Healthy adults need 15 to 25 milligrams of beta-carotene per day. Quality sources of this vitamin include carrots, squash, pumpkin, spinach and cantaloupe. It is a fat-soluble vitamin, so consume a little bit of fat with it so your body absorbs the vitamin better. For instance, toss carrots lightly in olive oil. While beta-carotene helps maintain healthy skin, you can have too much of a good thing. In this case, too much beta-carotene can leave your skin orange and bruised and may cause joint pain. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should consult a physician before supplementing with beta-carotene, as too much may harm the fetus or newborn.
Michelle Fisk began writing professionally in 2011. She has been published in the "Physician and Sports Medicine Journal." Her expertise lies in the fields of exercise physiology and nutrition. Fisk holds a Master of Science in kinesiology from Marywood University.