Carotene is an orange photosynthetic pigment found in carrots, tomatoes, and various other colored plants, including leafy green vegetables.


Most of the carotene absorbed from food is converted in the walls of the small intestine into vitamin A, which is essential for normal vision and the health of the skin and other organs.


Excessive intake of carotene-containing foods, especially carrots, results in carotenemia (abnormally high blood levels of carotene). This condition is harmless, but does cause yellowing of the skin, especially of the palms and soles. It can be differentiated from jaundice because the eyes remain white. The abnormal pigmentation rapidly disappears if carrots or other such carotene-containing plants are omitted from the diet.


Some recent research suggests that carotene may have some protective effect against certain types of cancer.