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Beta-carotene is also known as provitamin A, which means it is a precursor, or parent molecule for this important vitamin. The breakdown of beta-carotene takes place in the small intestine, where it is converted into the retinol form of vitamin A, which is then stored in the liver as retinyl esters.
Beta-carotene can be found in abundance in carrots, spinach, winter squash, cantaloupe, broccoli, sweet potatoes, oranges, lettuce, tomatoes and other richly colored, yellow, orange and green leafy fruits and vegetables. Beta-carotene is one of the pigments that give fruits and vegetables their deep red, orange and yellow coloration. The greater the intensity of the color, the more beta-carotene is contained within.
Vitamin A deficiency can lead to eye problems, dry skin and hair, insomnia and fatigue.
Health benefits of vitamin A
* Taking more than 10,000 IU of vitamin A per day may cause birth defects.