I eat loads of carrots when I am stressed. Am I overdosing on beta carotene?

I hope you might be able to answer my dietary query. I have recently lost a lot of weight– over 100 pounds. In order to do this, I have been eating loads of carrots, as I need to eat something when I am stressed, which is quite often.

When I recently went to the doctor, they commented that I looked tan/orange. I am I suppose eating so many carrots that I am overdosing on beta-carotene. I read your Q & A on beta-carotene and it was talking about not taking too many vitamin A or beta-carotene supplements, but to eat fresh veggies instead. So the question is: is eating loads of carrots bad for me (I probably eat a pound a day)? Do I need to stop completely to get rid of the slight orange tint? How much can I eat and not turn orange? Also, my other veggie of choice is pickled beetroot. Will that contribute to my coloring as well? Do I need to stop eating that as well – nightmare! What veggies can I safely eat large quantities of?

I hope you can answer my query. Thank you very much. I enjoyed your Healthy Body Calculator very much, and have recommended it to others.

Hey, big congratulations on the weight loss! You are one success story.

With regards to carrots, yes you can eat so many of them that your skin will turn yellow. One carrot (7 1/2″ long) has 2025 RE (Retinol Equivalents) of vitamin A, which is 203% of your Daily Value. One pound of carrots has 1276% of your RDA for vitamin A. So since you have eaten more than 3 carrots in a day (> 34,000 IU or International Units), you have probably saturated your body’s ability to store vitamin A over a short time and is showing up as an orange tint on your skin. I would suggest you decrease your carrot consumption and increase another low vitamin A vegetable.

Broccoli (1 spear has 232 RE of vitamin A) and other foods high in vitamin A or carotene will do the same, but you would have to eat almost 9 broccoli spears to equal the vitamin A in one carrot. Eat any raw vegetable that you like and try a greater variety. Vegetables higher in carbohydrate and calories like corn, peas, lima beans, winter squash aren’t too tasty raw. Try including cauliflower, bell peppers, pea pods, cherry tomatoes and celery and lay off the carrots till the yellow cast to your skin fades. Take a stroll through the fresh vegetable section in your favorite grocery store to find what interests you. Be bold in trying vegetables you’ve never had like raw jicama.

Is pickled beetroot the same thing as pickled beets in your part of the country? If so, they contain 0 vitamin A. Beets may redden your stool and make your urine pink to red, but that is about it. But did you know that 1/2 cup of pickled beets contains 80 calories and 19 grams carbohydrate, mostly as sugar? Don’t want to burst your routine if this satisfies your sweet tooth though.

To complete your journey, I would recommend you explore why you eat when stressed. Now that you have been successful at weight loss, do some work on your food behaviors. Don’t just continue substituting a low-calorie food for high-calorie foods when you get stressed. This is difficult work to do poking around in your brain, but you can do it as your self-confidence and self-esteem is probably stronger now that you have tasted success.