Carrot is one of the most nutritive vegetables in nature. Low in calories and saturated with vitamin A (retinol), falcarinol, minerals and antioxidants, it is essential for our health. The orange color of carrot is due to the presence of carotenoids, a group of lipid-soluble compounds. The major component of carotenoids is a chemical named beta-carotene which protects our skin from the damage caused by ultraviolet rays from the sun. Beta-carotene is converted into vitamin A in liver. The vitamin is necessary for healthy eyes and reproduction. The carotenoids including carotene contribute to the natural color of human skin.
However, as the old saying goes, too many carrots can turn you orange. Yes, that is true. Eating excessive amount of carrots can cause a person’s color to turn to a yellow-orange shade, a condition named cartenosis. Also known in the names of carotenemia, xanthemia and xanthosis, the state arises from the habitual consumption of carrots, usually the daily drinking of carrot juice. It is mostly found in vegetarians and young children and most apparent in light-skinned people since the less amount of melanin. Infants who are starting to take in solid food are often fed with excessive amount of vegetables including carrots which may result in carotenosis. People regard carrot as a safe food, which prompt them to consume it in more than necessary amounts.
Usually the carotene is converted into Vitamin A in liver. But the increased intake of carrots raises the levels of carotene in the blood. This carotene is carried in plasma to the peripheral tissues of our body. The excess amount is then stored in the fat under our skin and secreted through sweat resulting in the yellow-orange pigmentation on the skin. The color will appear most prominently on the nose, the palms of hands and the soles of feet, where the skin layer is comparatively thicker.
Carotenosis is generally a harmless condition. It doesn’t produce any other ill effects, and can be solved by cutting back the consumption of carrots. The levels of carotene in blood will drop quickly even though the skin may take several weeks to change back to normal color due to the carotene accumulated in the tissues.
People develop carotenosis by taking excessive supplements of beta-carotene as well, which is a harmful medical condition named hypervitaminosis A. It can be accompanied by symptoms like blurred vision, dizziness and bone pain. Immediate medical consultation is suggested in those cases.
You might also like: