Frequently (and not so frequently) Asked Questions
BRIEF: Is too much carotene bad for you?
My recent blood test showed a carotene serum level of 376 (the normal range indicated was 6-77). Should I be worried? Should I stop eating carrots altogether, or at least cut down (Even if I don't want to) ? If I am not now at a dangerous level, what would be? Are there any symptoms that this level of carotene would generate? What is available for me to read on the subject?
Conventional wisdom is that our bodies pretty much quit converting carotene to vitamin A when they take in lots of extra carotene like you have, so you shouldn't worry too much about vitamin A poisoning unless you have some defect in its regulation. And we don't think carotene is all that toxic. So the direct effects of your carrot mania are probably mostly cosmetic. Indirect effects are another story. If you are eating that many carrots, then you are probably not eating much of a lot of other foods. Most conventional, alternative, corporate, communal, old fogey and hippie nutritionists all agree that humans are healthiest eating a very wide variety of foods. They will tell you that this is because the known nutrients are not all found in a few foods. What they won't tell you is that there is an even better reason: We have not yet discovered all of the essential nutrients! And if we restrict our diet too much, we might not get one of these unknowns! Carrots are a wonderful food, so don't quit eating them. If I were you, I would eat fewer of them (at least until I became less orange) and make sure I was getting a wider variety of both plant and animal foods. Give you body a shot at the full range of known and unnkown nutrients!