Can you really get a tan by eating carrots? TikTok trend explained

Can you really get a tan by eating carrots? TikTok trend explained
TikTok’s viral ’carrot tanning’ trend explained
TikTok’s viral ’carrot tanning’ trend explained

If some influencers on TikTok are to be believed, eating a handful of carrots a day will give you a tan.

An account called isabelle.lux posted last week to claim that eating three carrots each day would make you orange. And the fad is spreading like wildfire.


#stitch with @Isabelle ⚡️ Lux 🥕CARROT TAN 101 take Astaxanthin (i get mine on amazon) #carrottan #selftan #selftanroutine Tanning hack routine Carrot tan before and after results

But like most things promoted by beauty grifters on the internet, all is not what it seems.

Two dieticians wrote in The Conversation on 27 September that, no, you probably won't get that golden tan just from eating a couple of root vegetables.

They are Lauren Ball, professor of community health and wellbeing at The University of Queensland, and Emily Burch, a dietitian, researcher and lecturer, Southern Cross University.

Here’s what they had to say.

What is Carotene?

The reason carrots are orange is because they contain beta-carotene, a natural pigment.

When you eat it, your gut breaks it down into vitamin A, which helps vision, reproduction, immunity and growth.

If you eat too much beta-carotene, it stops breaking it down into vitamin A. Then your poo goes orange. (No, really.)

The excess beta-carotene gets stored in the liver and fat tissue, write Ball and Burch, and is excreted through your poo, or removed via sweat glands in the outer layer of the skin. This is when your skin goes orange, or “tanned”.

There’s even a medical name for the condition – carotenoderma – which sees the orange pigmentation concentrated in the palms of your hands, the soles of your feet and the smile lines near your nose.

So how many carrots do you need?

“A few days of high carrot intake will unlikely result in a change in skin colour,” Bell and Burch write.

Moreover, “no high quality trials have been conducted to test the relationship between number of carrots eaten per day and skin colour changes or other outcomes”.

One published case report found that for a person who ate around 3kg of carrots per week (about seven large carrots a day) found the colour of their skin started to change.

Other experts have suggest you would need to eat at least ten carrots per day, for at least a few weeks, for colour changes to occur.

The experts added: “Most people would find this carrot intake challenging.”

Is that even good for you?

And while they continue that myths around beta-carotene being toxic for humans don’t quite stack up, there is a potential danger.

“There is, however, some evidence that taking high-dose beta-carotene supplements (20 mg per day or more) increases lung cancer risk in people who smoke cigarettes or used to smoke,” they wrote. “This may be due to changes to chemical signalling pathways.”

The Cancer Council therefore recommends avoiding high doses of beta-carotene supplements (more than 20 mg per day).

But the good news is that if you really want to go a strange orange hue, beta-carotene is also found in parsley, basil, chives, chilli powder and sun-dried tomatoes.

So as far as real fruit and veg is concerned, you might as well crack on.

Read the full article in The Conversation here.

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