That Healthy Glow

Reader Lucy wants to know if there’s beta-carotene in sweet potatoes, and if there is, is it really true that too much beta-carotene can turn your skin orange? The answer is that it can indeed, Lucy! Turning orange as a result of too many carotenoids is a clinical condition known as carotenodermia. It’s harmless, usually seen in babies (and aggressive vegetarians), but it can give the skin a noticeable orange-y or yellowy tint. Supposedly, pediatricians are seeing a lot more carotenodermia these days, presumably because parents are becoming increasingly vigilant about giving kids their veggies.

A wide range of fruits and vegetables contain carotenoids, so you can get it even if you don’t eat carrots. Spinach is full of them, as are apples, even milk has some. Clearly I’m going to have to be careful with my bumper crop of sweet potatoes. If my hands start to look tan in my tutorial photos, you’ll know why.

6 thoughts on “That Healthy Glow”

  1. There was a lady who worked for my mother when I was a teenager. She was always eating full-sized carrots at work. She definitely had an orange-ish glow to her. The best way to describe it was like a spray-on tan gone terribly wrong. :-}


    1. Heh. That’s what I see in my mind’s eye when I try to imagine what this condition looks like. Somewhere between that and a Willy Wonka oopa-loompa. Thanks Eva!

      – Joe

  2. It happened to me last year but I was eating something like 4 raw carrots a day (300g – I love those crunchy things) plus a lot of veggies. A colleague of mine said that I looked yellow :-).
    Since I learned that if the white of your eyes isn’t yellow too, it is harmless so I carried on eating my carrots.
    The positive is : I keep my cycling tan all year long !

    1. Hehe…yes the yellow eyes would point to something much worse. But why not a little orange in the complexion? It would do me good with my Scots/Irish pallor!


      – Joe

  3. I worked at Subway in college and the assistant manager was vegan. She most definitely had a perma-tan that she attributed to carrots. 🙂

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