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Carotenoids are pigments that naturally occur in some vegetables and fruits. The most commonly consumed kinds of provitamin carotenoids can be turned into vitamin A in the intestines.

Carotenoid Foods & Sources

Look for dark green, yellow or orange vegetables—they're most likely to have significant levels of carotenoids. Cooked or juiced carrots have the most provitamin carotenoids - a half-cup of cooked carrots contains enough beta-carotene to provide 450 percent of the average daily requirement of vitamin A (after the beta-carotene is converted into vitamin A in the body).

Other good sources of beta-carotene and other carotenoids include spinach, kale, cantaloupe, mango and oatmeal. Lutein and zeaxanthin are found in dark green vegetables like kale and collard greens (the richest source of these carotenoids) as well as spinach, swiss chard and parsley.

Lycopene is found in abundance in tomatoes, especially in cooked and juiced tomatoes. A cup of tomato sauce will provide the daily recommended 30 mg of lycopene, as will a cup and a half of tomato juice. Other good sources include watermelon and pink grapefruit.

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