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Beta-carotene is one of the most powerful antioxidants

Vitamin A has several forms that are used for vital functions.
Provitamin A, betacarotene, performs antioxidant functions that none of the other forms of vitamin A can achieve. In addition to its vital antioxidant functions, beta-carotene can be split apart into retinal and converted to all other forms of preformed vitamin A.
vegetables-fruitsBeta-carotene is one of the most powerful antioxidants in food. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals to reduce the risk of macular degeneration, cancer, heart disease, and stroke. Some of the beta-carotene in foods and supplements can be converted into the retinal form of vitamin A.

About 10 percent of the carotenoids (beta-carotene is one of the carotenoids) in plant foods can be converted into retinal. The remaining carotenoids may be used as antioxidants.
The other forms of vitamin A do not exhibit antioxidant activity. The forms of vitamin A found in meat (retinyl esters), dairy products, and eggs do not possess antioxidant activity.

Vitamin A supplements made without beta-carotene or other sources of antioxidants also do not possess antioxidant activity. Many supplements are made with retinyl palmitate and retinyl acetate; these forms of vitamin A are not antioxidants.
Beta-carotene is plentiful in yellow and orange vegetables and fruit. Green vegetables also are rich in beta-carotene; the colorful pigments are masked by the green chlorophyll. Some of the other carotenoids that can be converted into retinal include alpha-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin. Some carotenoids that cannot be converted into retinal are lycopene (from tomatoes) and lutein. All carotenoids have antioxidant activity.

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