is the plant source
of Vitamin A
. It is the yellow
that colors carrot
s, apricots, peaches, melons, mangoes, and pumpkins. It is also present in dark green
vegetables but the yellow is masked by the green chlorophyll
. If you eat enough carrots your skin
can turn yellow. Breastmilk can also turn yellow from high levels of beta carotene in a mother's diet. Our body splits the beta carotene molecule into two molecules of Vitamin A.
Vitamin A (another type - retinol) can also be had from meat, especially liver. A well nourished adult can get by without new sources of Vitamin A for about 2 years (because of liver stores). However, most of the world gets their Vitamin A as beta carotene from plant sources. Vitamin A deficiency can cause blindness or in less severe cases bad night vision. This is the "eat your carrots, they are good for your eyes" basis. In much of our world where meat and fruit or vegetables are not available, large populations just doesn't get enough Vitamin A. The resulting deficiency is responsible for "at least a million children who die every year because they are weakened by vitamin-A deficiency and an additional 350,000 who go blind."
Rice is a stable amoung many of the poor and malnourished people of the developing world (for those who have food at all). But rice alone didn't provide enough Vitamin A. Recently genetic engineering has created a "golden rice" by blending the gene's of common rice with DNA from bacteria and daffodils yielding a rice with built in beta carotene.
reference: Friday, March 16, 2001
Grains Of Hope
BY J. MADELEINE NASH/ZURICH
Thanks to enkidu
for pointing out and noding on carotenemia
, which is the name of the benign phenomenon of skin turning yellow (but not the whites of the eyes) when excess beta-carotene is ingested (happens a lot with little kids).