As you crunch on that carrot, did you ever wonder where it got its color?  Beta carotene is a pigment that is an orange color and gives color to orange, yellow and red fruits and vegetables.  Everyone has heard of vitamin A, but did you know that it comes from beta-carotene?  Vitamin A is well known for helping your eyes and keeping your skin healthy. With the help of its precursor beta carotene, vitamin A can help keep you in tip top shape.  Keep in mind that too much of a good thing can be bad.  Vitamin A does have a toxicity point so it is important to be mindful of any supplements you are taking while eating vitamin A rich foods.  One good thing is that your body only converts beta carotene into the vitamin when needed, so don’t be too worried about eating a couple extra carrots. 

On another note, beta carotene is an antioxidant.  It protects the body from free radicals that damage your cells.  Having a diet rich in antioxidant foods can boost your immune system and may lower the risk of getting some chronic diseases.  Beta carotene has shown to be beneficial treating certain sun sensitivity and metabolic syndrome when received from natural food sources.  Beta carotene is found in many different foods and not all of them are a shade of orange.  Some foods containing a lot of beta carotene include red peppers, lettuce (ex: romaine, red leaf), kale, spinach, carrots, and pumpkin.  Orange, red, and yellow fruits and vegetables, as well as leafy greens have beta carotene.  If you see a food rich in color, there is a good chance it contains beta carotene.  So crunch on a carrot or make yourself a nice salad because beta carotene is just waiting to help you out

Fun Fact: Flamingos get their color from the beta carotene found in their crustacean and algae diet!