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Anyone experiencing Carotenemia?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created November 11, 2010 at 8:41 PM

Since going paleo, my complexion has improved greatly and my skin is glowing. After recently seeing myself in a photograph next to my brother, I seem to have a distinctly yellowish-tone to my complexion. I don't have jaundice and I don't feel ill, so it's likely carotenemia. I definitely eat lots of vitamin A rich foods (beef, eggs, all kinds of veggies like kale, spinach, carrots, etc), everyday - they are delicious.

Has anyone else experienced this, and if so, did you do something about it? Is there another solution besides introducing more variety or cutting back slightly on vitamin A rich foods? I'm starting to look like Bart Simpson...

A8d95f3744a7a0885894ee0731c9744c

(3761)

on November 11, 2010
at 09:30 PM

I see. I think you're probably OK. I would check with a Dr. if it gets to be a bigger problem, like I said, it could be related to thyroid issues. You would have to be ingesting MASSIVE amounts of carotenoids to tint your skin.

A0b8c4cc369f93ee987ce15b1bf323fe

on November 11, 2010
at 09:12 PM

I may have mistakenly tied the cause to vitamin A, whereas it could be carotenoid-rich foods only. Even so, I eat a lot of the foods found here... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carotene#Dietary_sources

Ef9f83cb4e1826261a44c173f733789e

(13635)

on November 11, 2010
at 09:06 PM

I wonder how much carrot is required to get carotenemia. I go through a pound a week.

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6 Answers

3
E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on November 12, 2010
at 06:28 PM

First thing, is that it'll only be the plant source vitamin A (carotenoids) that induce carotenemia, not the animal sources, so there's no reason to hold back from the liver. Indeed, the animal sources of vitamin A are massively more useful than are the plant sources, only a limited amount of which is converted. That said I have read that retinol can give the skin a red shade, but have never been able to locate the reference.

I had this (carotenemia) occur to me (I think- it certainly wasn't obvious), but the only comments I received were people wondering how my skin looked so healthy when I notoriously never got out in the sun. At that point I was probably eating up to 500g of carrots per day; now I consume far more beta-carotene from spinach, but if it is tinting my skin then the effects aren't ludicrously noticeable. Certainly the effects seems to dissipate pretty quickly when I reduce my intake of either food.

I wouldn't worry about it if it's a purely cosmetic effect, if anything it might be a good thing. If there's something to worry about regarding excess carotenoid intake, it would be that supra-natural levels of carotenes might distort other important processes. The dire results of giving people (smokers) supplemental mega-doses of carotenes (they die quicker) might be easily dismissed in the case of natural plant sources, nevertheless it's possible that they are harmful. Despite being touted as healthful antioxidants, it's important to remember that oxidation is an important tool of the body for defense (e.g. against infection, cancers) and signalling. Hopefully such hypothetical negative effects only apply to the levels you'd reach by deliberately juicing or otherwise ingesting as many carrots as you can though, not from mere fondness for vegetables.

2
40e925ddc9657e211c9a2ee83c2cc579

(364)

on November 11, 2010
at 10:56 PM

When I was hypothyroid my skin was yellow, but mainly on my hands and feet. Low thyroid prevents conversion of beta-carotene to vitamin A (and lots of other things).

0
62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on November 12, 2010
at 04:04 AM

Could be a ton of things. Excess bilirubin the blood is well known to cause yellowing of the skin. Excess bilirubin is often the result of liver problems or blockage of the biliary tree in the liver which causes the bilirubin to back up into the blood. However, most people with liver problems typically feel bad already before turning yellow, so this prob seems less likely. Blockage of the biliary tree could also cause it, and typically you don't feel very sick with this problem but it is said that excess bilirubin in the blood often makes you feel itchy so watch for that symptom. However, it is said that excess bilirubin usually causes yellowing of the eyes as well as the skin, so if the eyes are clear, seems less likely it is bilirubin to blame.

I've also read a lot of accounts of all kinds of dietary foods causing skin color change, everything from greens and carrots to excess consumption of Sunny Delight (that crap orange juice like stuff). If the problem really is excess carotene in the blood, research suggests this is a benign condition and my even provide some additional UV photoprotection to the skin. My advice would be to have a doctor check blood levels of bilirubin just in case, but doesn't sound like it's worth worrying about if it's just excess carotene.

0
7431586c21bca496c5a7ec7bd0ca4d6e

(974)

on November 11, 2010
at 11:24 PM

My father had his hands turn orange after buying a juicer and juicing bags of carrots. He backed off the carrot consumption and the color disappeared.

Stancel made a good suggestion about Vitamin D. Vitamin D and Vitamin A interact. Get more Vitamin D, back off the Vitamin A.

0
8287c6ddae0d78eae0a09fdd5999617c

(2581)

on November 11, 2010
at 10:31 PM

I actually think something like this can be caused by deficiencies. Not saying that is the case with you, but for other people who it might happen to who don't get a lot of Vitamin A. I was not only a junk food vegan but I was very sun deprived and I had some orange spots some with rough textures and I think this is a sign that the skin is becoming thinner and weaker.

thankfully I think finally getting more sun and supplementing regularly with Vitamin D and getting more nutrition has helped and I no longer have those awful skin spots. Even though I can find nothing to show that Vitamin D is essential to skin health it's a theory of mine....I mean that's where Vitamin D is synthesized, in the skin, it has to be important for the skin.

but if you think I'm wrong, I probably am...just wanted to share.

0
A8d95f3744a7a0885894ee0731c9744c

(3761)

on November 11, 2010
at 08:57 PM

Perhaps I'm just ignorant, but I thought carotenemia was brought on my carotene rich foods (carrots, citrus fruit). Do vitamin A and carotene have a link?

Thyroid problems have also been known to add a yellow tint to the skin.

A0b8c4cc369f93ee987ce15b1bf323fe

on November 11, 2010
at 09:12 PM

I may have mistakenly tied the cause to vitamin A, whereas it could be carotenoid-rich foods only. Even so, I eat a lot of the foods found here... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carotene#Dietary_sources

A8d95f3744a7a0885894ee0731c9744c

(3761)

on November 11, 2010
at 09:30 PM

I see. I think you're probably OK. I would check with a Dr. if it gets to be a bigger problem, like I said, it could be related to thyroid issues. You would have to be ingesting MASSIVE amounts of carotenoids to tint your skin.

Ef9f83cb4e1826261a44c173f733789e

(13635)

on November 11, 2010
at 09:06 PM

I wonder how much carrot is required to get carotenemia. I go through a pound a week.

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