The carotene is a terpene provitamin which in nature is contained in carrots and in many plants, giving them a red or orange color. From the metabolism of carotene two molecules of vitamin A are produced. This molecule is made up of 8 isoprenic units, which are cycled to extremes and we find it in the two forms called: alpha and beta. In nature the most common form of carotene is beta.
Carotene plays a very important role in human nutrition because it is the main source of vitamin A, especially for vegetarians. In cases of necessity beta carotene is metabolized by the body and transformed into vitamin A (or retinol), which is the essential vitamin for many important biological functions (for example in the synthesis of glycoproteins). The other properties are antioxidants, counteracting the onset of free radicals.
The carotene is also converted into vitamin A (essential for vision), which in turn is converted into retinoic acid, an indispensable molecule for cell growth and differentiation. The lack of vitamin A causes the consequent abnormal growth of the bones, dryness of the ocular cornea (xerophthalemia) and reproductive disorders. Another role that is still being confirmed due to the scientific confirmation is that of its potential utility against the appearance of cancer and diseases affecting the cardiovascular system.
For the body the intake of beta-carotene is better than the assumption of retinol; in fact, while the body takes the amount of beta-carotene it needs, expelling the excess, the same thing can not happen with the retinol which, in excess, can go to damage some organs and the liver. However, it is good to know that the metabolism that transforms carotene into vitamin A is slow; for this reason excess amounts of carotene may originate carotenosis: pathology in which the skin (but not the sclerae) has an intense yellow complexion, especially at the level of the palm of the hands and the soles of the feet.
Warning: The information reported is not medical advice and may not be accurate. The contents are for illustrative purposes only and do not replace medical advice.