When most people hear the word carotene, they picture carrots and other orange fruits and vegetables. The word may even conjure up thoughts of sharpening the eyesight by consuming massive amounts of carrots. But a little-known fact is that carotene is also very effective at preventing wrinkles and other signs of aging.
The two most common forms of carotene that humans consume or apply topically are the alpha and beta varieties. The main function of carotene is to convert into vitamin A as the body requires it. Vitamin A, in turn, promotes healthy vision and skin as well as gene transcription.
How it works. Basically, we consume alpha and beta-carotene, which is then broken down in the small intestine. The resulting product is retinal, a variety of vitamin A. You may recognize the root of retinal as a common ingredient used in acne treatments and anti-aging creams. It is also the same root as the retina of the eye. Both of these allude to the major benefits of retinal. Retinal translates light into visual cues. This form of vitamin A is also instrumental in reducing sebaceous gland secretion associated with acne and other skin conditions. Carotenes are also known as anti-inflammatories and antioxidants.
Where it’s found. There are many sources available for consuming an adequate amount of carotene. Carrots and sweet potatoes are perhaps the most common sources. But spinach, kale, broccoli, parsley, romaine lettuce, and pumpkin are also rich in anti-aging carotenes. Studies show that cooking these foods until the cell walls split aids with absorption. Carotenes are also fat soluble, so eating these foods with fatty foods may aid with absorption as well.
Alpha vs. Beta. Alpha and beta carotenes both help the body produce vitamin A. Most studies show that beta-carotene is more effective at releasing vitamin A than alpha carotenes. However, alpha carotenes have demonstrated more effective antioxidant properties than beta-carotenes in clinical studies, and are therefore more effective anti-aging elements. Do you want to refresh your skin and bring back that youthful glow? There are anti-aging creams on the market that can significantly reduce the appearance of wrinkles and other signs of aging.