Hypercarotenemia

Originally Published: February 24, 2006 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: November 20, 2009
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Alice,

Do people really turn orange if they eat too many carrots?

Dear Reader,

Yes, you can turn orange if you eat too many carrots. But not to worry, this condition, called hypercarotenemia, is neither poisonous nor permanent. 

Hypercarotenemia is the excessive intake of carotene into one's system. Carotene is found commonly in foods such as carrots, yellow and green vegetables, and citrus fruits. Overindulgence in carotene-containing foods can lead to the skin, especially the soles of the feet and palms of the hands, and the whites of your eyes to turn tints of yellow and orange. If a person ingests over 20 mg of carotene per day (about three eight-inch carrots), they begin to run the risk of developing hypercarotenemia. 

It is important for people to get enough carotene daily, as the body's chemistry later converts it into Vitamin A (retinol). This fat-soluble nutrient has very important roles in reproduction, growth and development, vision, the development and maintenance of healthy skin, hair, and mucous membranes, and immune functions. While Vitamin A can be toxic in large quantities, carotene itself is not. Thus, if you ingest large quantities of carotene, there is little reason to worry. 

So, keep eating your veggies with every meal! If you really like carrots and are turning a bit orange, there isn't any harm... as long as you don't clash with what you are wearing. 

Alice