Friday, May 22, 2009

Carrots, Hair, and Body

Why are carrots great for the hair? Well, carrots are high in beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A, a critical nutrient for our follicles. Additionally, vitamin A is essential for good vision and other body functions.

SHORT BACKGROUND ON BETA-CAROTENE:
Beta-carotene is a provitamin absorbed from plant food sources, such as carrots, and converted to vitamin A in the body. Beta-carotene differs from retinyl esters (an ester form of vitamin A) absorbed from animal food sources, such as eggs or chicken. Both beta-carotene and retinyl esters may be converted to various forms of vitamin A in the body, including retinol (alcohol form of vitamin A), retinal (aldehyde form), and retinoic acid (acid form).

VITAMIN A FOR THE HAIR:
- improves scalp skin condition & promotes hair growth
According to this study, vitamin A:
- has an important role in the growth and maintenance of follicles
- prolongs the anagen (growth) phase of the hair cycle
- plays a role in converting vellus hair (shorter, finer hair) to terminal (longer, thicker, more developed) hairs

VITAMIN A FOR THE BODY:
- promotes good vision; deficiency may result in night blindness (impaired vision in dim light and darkness; indication of poor retina health)
- commonly known as the "anti-infection" vitamin; promotes strong immune system
- promotes cell growth
- contributes to healthy skin - e.g., acne reduction
- may lower the risk of certain cancers according to some studies

INCORPORATING CARROTS:
It is best to consume fresh carrots rather than canned or frozen. Carrots may be eaten with a salad, as a side dish, or snack. Not a fan of carrots? Sweet potatos, cantaloupes, mangoes, papayas, spinach, and apricots are also good sources of beta-carotene. It is not enough to merely munch on carrots daily, though. Beta-carotene conversion to vitamin A depends on your overall diet (including how much zinc, lipids, etc. you absorb from other foods). Speak with your doctor about the best way to get the most from your diet. Many Americans generally obtain sufficient vitamin A.

ABOUT SUPPLEMENTS:
Please speak with your doctor before taking beta-carotene supplements due to certain risks that may arise. Smokers and those on medication are especially at an increased risk for lung cancer and other diseases.

SOURCES:
10 HEALTHY HAIR FOODS
VITAMIN A FUNCTIONS
BETA-CAROTENE
WIKI: BETA-CAROTENE
BETA-CAROTENE & VITAMIN A
RETONOIDS WIKI
RETINOL WIKI
VITAMIN A WIKI
VITAMIN A/RETINOID
RETINOL & HAIR STUDY
NIGHT BLINDNESS

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