Search Ask the Dietitian
Vitamin A & Carotenes
I am becoming concerned about the yellowish - orangish tint that my skin has developed. It is most noticeable on my palms and the pads of my feet, however my entire body has it to some degree.
I made drastic changes to my diet about two years ago. I have since lost 65 pounds and am down to 210 pounds, at 6 feet 2 inches tall.
During that time my eating have evolved to a regimen whereby I only eat fruits, vegetable, whole grains and beans. I feel healthy both mentally and physically, however, I will admit that I am beginning to get a number of comments from coworker about my skin color. Should I be concerned? Should I make an effort to work meat and dairy back into my diet?
If you are not doing either of above, I would suggest you make an appointment to see your doctor to check your liver and pancreatic enzymes levels in your blood. Are the whites of your eyes yellow or orange tint? Tell your doctor of any other symptoms you have.
Is your weight loss due to your reduced food intake and was your weight loss planned? Have you lost 65 pounds over the last 2 years?
If your yellow / orange skin color is due to the amount of beta carotene you are consuming, it is not necessary to work meat and / or dairy back into your diet. A vegetarian diet is healthy if you eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, beans and peas as well as legumes. Perhaps you should also make an appointment to see a registered dietitian.
I hope you might be able to answer my dietary query. I have recently lost a lot of weight- over 100 lbs. In order to do this, I have been eating loads of carrots, as I need to eat something when I am stressed, which is quite often.
When I recently went to the doctor, they commented that I looked tan / orange. I am I suppose eating so many carrots that I am overdosing on beta carotene. I read your Q & A on beta carotene and it was talking about not taking too many vitamin A or beta carotene supplements, but to eat fresh veggies instead. So the question is: is eating loads of carrots bad for me (I probably eat a pound a day)? Do I need to stop completely to get rid of the slight orange tint? How much can I eat and not turn orange? Also, my other veggie of choice is pickled beet root. Will that contribute to my coloring as well? Do I need to stop eating that as well - nightmare! What veggies can I safely eat large quantities of?
I hope you can answer my query. Thank you very much. I enjoyed your Healthy Body Calculator very much, and have recommended it to others.
Hey, big congratulations on the weight loss! You are one success story.
With regards to carrots, yes you can eat so many of them that your skin will turn yellow. One carrot (7 1/2" long) has 2025 RE of vitamin A, which is 203% of your Daily Value. One pound of carrots has 1276% of your RDA for vitamin A. So since you have eaten more than 3 carrots in a day (> 34,000 IU), you have probably saturated your body's ability to store vitamin A over a short time and so it is showing up as an orange tint on your skin. I would suggest you decrease your carrot consumption and increase other low vitamin A vegetables.
Broccoli (1 spear has 232 RE of vitamin A) and other foods high in vitamin A or carotene will do the same, but you would have to eat almost 9 broccoli spears to equal the vitamin A in one carrot. Eat any raw vegetable that you like and try a greater variety. Vegetables higher in carbohydrate and calories like corn, peas, lima beans, winter squash aren't too tastey raw. Try including cauliflower, bell peppers, pea pods, cherry tomatoes and celery and lay off the carrots till the yellow cast to your skin fades. Take a stroll through the fresh vegetable section in your favorite gocery store to find what interests you. Be bold in trying vegetables you've never had like raw jicama.
Is pickled beet root the same thing as pickled beets in your part of the country? If so, they contain 0 vitamin A. Beets may redden your stool and make your urine pink to red, but that is about it. But did you know that 1/2 cup of pickled beets contains 80 calories and 19 gms carbohydrate, mostly as sugar? Don't want to burst your routine if this satisfies your sweet tooth though.
To complete your journey, I would recommend you explore why you eat when stressed. Now that you have been successful at weight loss, do some work on your food behaviors. Don't just continue substituting a low calorie food for high calorie foods when you get stressed. This is difficult work to do poking around in your brain, but you can do it as your self confidence and self esteem is probably stronger now that you have tasted success.
I am a young student presently in the 9th grade. Your site is awesome! I am doing a project in biology class and I chose to do it on vitamin A. Your site was the only one that had some vital information on vitamin A. I was hoping that you could somehow give me some more information on vitamin A. It would be a tremendous help if you could give me some sites with some info on vitamin A. I live in Canada. Thanks for even considering this message.
What is known about Vitamin A at this time is that there are animal sources (retinol) and vegetable sources (carotenes) in foods. Animal sources are about six times more potent than vegetable sources and can be toxic if taken in excess. Because of this, Vitamin A supplements are restricted to carotenes and under limited to under 25,000 IU per pill. One ounce of polar bear liver contains enough Vitamin A (retinol) to kill a person!
Your body uses Vitamin A for growth, healthy skin and cells (epithelial) that line any opening to the body (nose, throat, lungs, mouth, stomach, intestines, vagina and urinary tract) and good night vision. Absorption of vitamin A is dependent on fat from food sources and bile (cholesterol substance produced by your liver and stored by your gall bladder and used to break down fats, seeds and skins). Your body can store two year's worth of Vitamin A in your liver. If you don't eat enough Vitamin A, it can cause blindness or in milder cases, your ability to see or drive at night.
Good food sources are fish oil, liver (pork, lamb, chicken, turkey or beef), eggs, butter and orange or yellow vebetables or fruits. Broccoli is a good source of Vitamin A, but the cholorphyll (green) camoflages the yellow carotene color. If it weren't for chlorophyll, broccoli would be yellow or orange.
Some researchers have found that large amounts of Vitamin A can prevent the development of cancer in epithelial cells and yet other researchers have found the opposite is true. But, if you take large quantities of Vitamin A, your skin and even the whites of your eyes can turn yellow when your body stores for Vitamin A become saturated. If this happens, discontinue the vitamin A supplements and the yellow coloring in the whites of your eyes, palms of your hands and soles of your feet will go away in a few months. If the whites of a person's eyes are yellow and not caused by Vitamin A supplements, they could have liver disease like cirrhosis and should see their doctor immediately.
Hope this info helps your understanding of Vitamin A.
I am taking a vitamin supplement called carotene with 15 milligrams. The label says it can be converted to vitamin A, maximum 25,000 IU Also, I take Stresstabs. Is that too much?
Carotene is a pre-cursor form of retinol vitamin A that your body uses. It is not as toxic as retinol, but at 25,000 IU per day, that is excessive. It equals 4,166 RE of retinol vitamin A. Males (ages 11 to 51+) Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) for vitamin A is 1,000 RE and a females (ages 11 to 51+) RDA is 800 RE Why do you feel you need to take more than four times your RDA?
Your RDA of vitamin A could be achieved by eating two or three carrot sticks, one tablespoon of cooked carrots, two tablespoons of cooked winter squash, sweet potatoes or pumpkin, 1/4 cup of dark green leafy vegetables (spinach, beet greens or Swiss chard), 4 asparagus spears, 1/4 cup broccoli, one apricot, 1/2 peach or 1/4 cup cantaloupe. All of these are probably less expensive than your vitamin A pills.
Vitamin A is fat-soluble and is stored in your body along with vitamins D, E and vitamin K. Your body can store up to two years worth in your liver. Levels above 100,000 IU of vitamin A are considered toxic (hypervitaminosis). Loss of hair can occur with megadoses of vitamin A. Excess carotene can cause your skin and the whites of your eyes to turn yellow. I have seen a patient with a jaundice look to their skin and eyes because of excess carotene intake from supplements. Generally, carotene will turn the skin yellow when the intake is above 20 mg per day (about 34,000 IU). The yellow skin tint is most noticeable on the hands and soles of your feet where there is little underlying tissue between the skin and bones. If the carotene supplement is discontinued, the skin will lose the yellow tint.
Your body uses vitamin A for good night vision and for maintaining the health of your epithelial cells. These cells are found in skin as well as lining your respiratory tract and gastrointestinal tract. Research has found that persons who have an adequate intake of vitamin A have a lower incidence of epithelial cancers. Epithelial cells line the lungs as well as the gastrointestinal tract, urinary tract and vagina. Research has not advocated megadosing vitamin A to prevent cancer though. A new Finish research project showed that smokers increased their rate of cancer if they took Vitamin A supplements.
Stresstabs by Lederle are vitamin B complex, C, D and E pills. They do not contain vitamin A. Only your vitamin supplement contains A.
In the early 1980's the FDA restricted the vitamin A content of multivitamin supplements to a maximum of 1,000 RE to limit the possibility of vitamin A toxicity. You can buy vitamin A supplements up to 5,000 RE (25,000 IU).
I would suggest, you discontinue your vitamin A supplements and try eating bright orange or dark green leafy vegetables for vitamin A. Liver is also an excellent source.
Search Ask the Dietitian