Can Carrots Really Make Your Skin Orange?
You’ve probably heard stories of people’s skin turning orange because they ate too many carrots. But is this true?
Can eating too many of these delicious and crunchy vegetables really make your orange?
In short, yes! But why does this happen?
Carrots get most of their orange color from a pigment called beta-carotene. It’s the same molecule that’s found in other orange vegetables like sweet potatoes, pumpkins, and bell peppers. Along with adding color to these foods, beta-carotene is important because it is a vitamin A precursor. Basically, this means that your body can use beta-carotene to make vitamin A, which is an essential nutrient. Certain foods (like carrots) are really high in beta-carotene, and therefore high in vitamin A. In fact, one medium (78g) carrot provides about 110% of the recommended intake (FDA, 2017). But if you’re regularly eating lots of carrots (or other orange vegetables), your body doesn’t need to break down all that beta-carotene. Instead, it stores that extra beta-carotene in the stratum corneum, a layer in your skin. This makes your skin appear yellowish-orange, a condition known as carotenemia (Edigin, Asemota, Olisa, & Nwaichi, 2019). However, carotenemia is harmless and only affects your physical appearance. If you simply consume less vitamin A, your body will eventually use up that stored beta-carotene and your skin will return to normal. So if you don’t mind looking a little orange… crunch away!
FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. (2017, December 13). Nutrition Information for Raw Vegetables. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/food/food-labeling-nutrition/nutrition-information-raw-vegetables
Edigin, E., Asemota, I. R., Olisa, E., & Nwaichi, C. (2019). Carotenemia: A Case Report. Cureus, 11(7), e5218. https://doi.org/10.7759/cureus.5218