Excerpt from Healthy Diet and Nutrition for Women
Beta-carotene is the plant-based, water-soluble precursor to vitamin A. Beta-carotene is abundant in the ovaries, and is found in very high concentrations in the corpus luteum and the adrenal glands—both of which produce progesterone. Some research even suggests that a proper balance between carotene and the retinal form of vitamin A is necessary for proper luteal function.
Researchers have been aware of the reproductive benefits of beta-carotene for more than a century. For example, cows whose diets were deficient in beta-carotene experienced delayed ovulation, decreased progesterone levels, and an increased prevalence of ovarian cysts, as well as cystic mastitis (breast cysts). Both conditions are typically found in women who are progesterone deficient.
Research studies have also found carotenoids such as beta carotene, as well as vitamin A, to be useful in treating conditions related to estrogen dominance, including ovarian cancer, heavy menstrual bleeding, and benign breast disease. A study from the International Journal of Cancer found that high carotenoid intake decreased a woman’s risk for ovarian cancer. In fact, beta-carotene rich carrots were among the foods most strongly associated with decreased risk.
Studies have also determined that vitamin A helps prevent heavy menstrual bleeding. Researchers tested the blood levels of 71 women suffering with excessive bleeding. They found that all the women had lower than normal levels of vitamin A. After taking vitamin A supplements for just two weeks, 90 percent of them returned to normal menstruation levels.
Finally, a study from Preventative Medicine found that high doses of vitamin A can help reverse one form of benign breast disease. Researchers gave 150,000 IU of vitamin A to 12 women with fibrocystic breasts. After three months, more than half the women reported complete or partial remission of the cysts. While I would never suggest that women take this high a dose of vitamin A for fear of toxicity, I believe that beta-carotene would have a similar effect.
To ensure that you are getting enough beta-carotene in your diet, be sure to include plenty of the following foods: carrots, kale, spinach, squash, sweet potatoes, mangoes, cantaloupe, apricots, and cabbage. I also suggest taking between 10,000–25,000 IU a day.
For more information about beta-carotene and other super antioxidant foods for womens health see Healthy Diet and Nutrition for Women available on Amazon, Amazon-Kindle and Womens Wellness Publishing .