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Ask Tufts Experts March 2016 Issue

Q. Is it possible to get an overdose of vitamin A from eating carrots?

A. Rosy Rojas, a dietetic intern at Tufts' Frances Stern Nutrition Center, answers: "No. Though uncommon, people do overdose on vitamin A; however, when it comes to eating carrots an overdose is impossible. Since they are known for benefiting eye health and vision, carrots are thought to be loaded with vitamin A, but they actually don’t have any vitamin A in its active form. Instead, carrots are filled with carotenoids, mainly beta-carotene, that can be converted to active vitamin A. Our body is able to regulate this conversion, so toxicity is not an issue, but there is a real side effect of eating an excessive amount of carrots that may be surprising: Beta-carotene gives carrots their vibrant orange color, and eating too many carrots can actually tint your skin a yellowish-orange in a condition called carotenemia. Having an orange glow may not suit your tastes, but this condition is completely harmless, and may be just what you need to stand out next Halloween."

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