A-Z Nutrition: Beta Carotene

What is beta-carotene? 

Beta-carotene is a carotenoid, or color containing (red, orange or yellow), fat-soluble compound. Beta-carotene is cleaved to form two molecules of retinal, a form of Vitamin A (1).

Vitamin A is important for cell function including DNA transcription which is essential for healthy growth and development especially in children and pregnant women. Vitamin A is also important for vision, which might be why you’ve heard carrots are good for your eye-sight (1).

Important to Know about beta-carotene:

Since Vitamin A is fat soluble, it requires fat for best absorption: only a small amount of fat is needed. So the next time you have a salad, be sure to include a little of your favorite salad dressing to help your body absorb the vitamins you’re consuming. Beta-carotene will not fix any underlying vision problems you may have. Regular eye exam are highly recommended by a licensed professional to maintain vision health.

Sources of beta-carotene:

  • Red, orange, or yellow peppers
  • Carrots 
  • Pumpkin
  • Sweet Potato


1. Lindshield BL. Kansas State University HN 400 Flexbook. 489-496

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