02/05/2012 09:19 BST | Updated 02/05/2012 11:22 BST

Too Much Beta-Carotene Found In Carrots ‘Damages Health'

Not a day goes by without news of the latest ‘antioxidant superfood’ and their health-boosting powers.

However, a recent study has suggested that too much of a good thing could be damaging our health, as researchers claim they’ve found a potentially dangerous ‘dark side’ to the ‘healthy’ pigment found in carrots.

Scientists from the Ohio State University discovered that if the body absorbs too much of the natural beta-carotene pigment mostly found in carrots (it’s what gives carrots its orange reddish colour), it partially ‘blocks’ the vitamin from metabolising in the body.

Vitamin A is essential for maintaining eye, bone and skin health, as well as keeping the immune system and metabolism healthy. If vitamin A absorption is blocked, researchers warn that it could cause a number of health hazards.

A potential danger could be an increased chance of lung cancer (as noted in a previous study), which found people who ate beta-carotene were more likely to be diagnosed with the condition than those who never ate foods with the pigment.


Happy International Carrot Day! Celebrities Who Favour The Orange Hue (PICTURES)

However, although researchers claims the pigment found in carrots “represent a dark side of beta-carotene” and “could basically disrupt or at least affect the whole body metabolism and action of vitamin A”, they added that they aren't recommending individuals stop eating foods high in beta-carotene as more study is needed "to know for sure”.

The results will be published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

The main food sources of beta-carotene are:

  • Yellow and green (leafy) vegetables, such as spinach, carrots and red peppers
  • Yellow fruit such as mango, melon and apricots

How much beta-carotene is safe?

According to the Department of Health, people should be able to get the amount of beta-carotene they need by eating a varied and balanced diet. However, if you decide to take beta-carotene supplements, it is important not to take too many because this could be harmful.

Do not take more than 7mg of beta-carotene supplements per day - unless advised by a doctor. People who smoke or who have been exposed to asbestos are advised not to take any beta-carotene supplements.

Surprisingly Healthy Foods