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Alpha-carotene is part of the fat-soluble carotenoid family and is one of the most abundant carotenoids in a healthy diet. The body can convert alpha- and beta-carotene into vitamin A for the maintenance of healthy skin and bones, good vision and a robust immune system. Because of this, it is called a precursor to vitamin A, or a pro-vitamin A compound but it is only half as effective as beta-carotene. However, its antioxidant properties are more powerful than those of beta-carotene. Alpha-carotene contains flavonoids, which are antioxidant substances that give colour and flavour to many orange  and red coloured fruits and vegetables which is why it is important to consume all colours of fruits and vegetables every day.

Antioxidants remove destructive free radicals from the body before they cause the tissue damage that can lead to chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer. In addition, alpha-carotene may help prevent cancer by stimulating cell-to-cell communication, a process which researchers now believe is necessary to ensure proper cell division.

Alpha-carotene is a fat-soluble substance, which requires the presence of dietary fat for proper absorption. Medical conditions that interfere with the digestion of fats, such as Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, surgical removal of the stomach, pancreatic enzyme deficiency and gall bladder and liver disease can inhibit the body’s ability to absorb alpha-carotene and other carotenoids.

People that take cholesterol-lowering medications, tobacco smokers, those that regularly consume alcohol and those that have diets low in calories or lacking fruits and vegetables may also have lower than normal blood levels of alpha-carotene.

A common carcinogen found in cigarettes called benzopyrene can cause vitamin A deficiency. Consuming foods rich in carotenoids helps the body to produce vitamin A. Supplements should be avoided though as they have been known to worsen lung disorders in smokers.

NOTE: Most of the carotenoids in fruits and vegetables are in the skin, so it is wise best not to peel fruits and vegetables when possible. However, lightly steaming some foods, such as carrots, spinach and tomatoes can actually improve the body’s ability to absorb them.

NOTE: Carotenoids are fat-soluble which means they must be consumed with a little oil in order for the body to absorb them. Add a tablespoon of a cold-pressed oil such as coconut, fish, nut, olive, rapeseed or other nut or seed oils.


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 Highest sources of alpha-carotene in micrograms per 100 grams

  • Pumpkin 4795 µg

  • Carrots 3776 µg

  • Chilli powder 2076 µg

  • Parsley 1461 µg

  • Squash 682 µg

  • Plantains 437 µg

  • Pimento 241 µg

  • Tomatoes 101 µg

  • Tangerines 101 µg

  • Prunes 57 µg

  • Red bell peppers 55µg

  • Peas 53 µg

  • Sweet potatoes 43 µg

  • Red chilli peppers 36 µg

  • Egg yolk 36 µg

  • Jalapeno peppers 30 µg

  • Raspberries 29 µg

  • Avocado 28 µg

  • Broccoli 25 µg

  • Cabbage 25 µg

  • Bananas 25 µg

  • Star fruit 24 µg

  • Green chillies 22 µg

  • Apricots 20 µg

  • Mango 16 µg

  • Melon 15 µg

Other natural sources of alpha-carotene in alphabetical order

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"Nature cures not the physician..." Hippocrates 460 BC


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