Because you store retinol in your liver, megadoses of preformed vitamin A can build up to toxic levels. Not so with carotenoids, which serve up another form of that vitamin. They aren't stored in the liver, so these red and yellow pigments in fruits and vegetables are safe even in very large amounts.
But that doesn't mean that excess carotenoids don't have side effects. Carotenoids, like retinoids, are stored in body fat. If you wolf down large quantities of carotenoid-rich foods like carrots and tomatoes every day, day after day, for several weeks, your skin — particularly the palms of your hands and the soles of your feet — will turn a nifty shade of dusty orange, brighter if your skin is naturally light, darker if it's naturally dark. It sounds fantastic, but it has actually happened to people eating two cups of carrots and two whole tomatoes a day for several months. When they cut down on the carrots and tomatoes, the color faded.
Now, let's see . . . it's September 1, and you've been invited to a Halloween party. Maybe this year you'll go as a pumpkin. If you start packing in the carrots and tomatoes right now. . . .
Was this article helpful?