A wooden bench with a bunch of carrots layered on top of one another.

Carrot vitamin: Are carrots as good for you as your parents promised?

Does eating carrots really protect your peepers? What about carrot vitamin C content? Will eating too many send you a shade of orange? Here we celebrate carrot vitamin and give this roast dinner regular a well-deserved moment in the spotlight.

Carrots are an everyday vegetable. A staple for Sunday dinners and the vegetable every young child is fed with an exaggerated promise that it will help them develop superhero-like night vision. Yet it’s easy to overlook the true nutritional value of this humble root vegetable. It’s often overshadowed in the nutritional stakes by broccoli, kale and the other greens. So, you might be surprised to hear that the humble carrot actually adds some unique forms of nourishment to your meals.

What are the benefits of eating carrots?

With a naturally sweet taste and a satisfying crunch, carrots are a widely appreciated vegetable. They’re also incredibly versatile. Boil or steam, roast them, grate them into salads, add them to casseroles or purée into soups. Or simply peel, chop and dip into houmous for a healthy snack.

And in addition to this, carrots are also packed with beta-carotene, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

A rich source of beta-carotene

Many of the health benefits of carrots come from the high beta-carotene content of the vegetable. Beta-carotene is the chemical that gives fruits and vegetables a yellow-orange pigment. With their vibrant orange colouring, carrots are an excellent source of this nutrient. But why is it important? Firstly, it works as an antioxidant1, so it can help counteract some of the cell and tissue damage provoked by oxidative stress. Some studies also show evidence that beta-carotene could contribute to reducing cognitive decline later in life2.

But the overwhelming benefit of consuming beta-carotene is that once inside your body it converts into vitamin A. This means it fulfils the same crucial roles in the body as this very important nutrient.

Benefits of vitamin A 3 

  • Aids immunity. Vitamin A can help build your body's natural resistance to illness and infection.

  • Supports healthy vision. It can help eyesight in dim light.

  • Skin health. It can help preserve skin and the lining of some parts of the body, such as inside the nose.

High in vitamins and minerals

Beta-carotene definitely grabs the headlines when it comes to the nutritional profile of the carrot. But there’s also a lot of other vitamin and mineral value in a portion of this popular veggie. Carrots make a worthy contribution to your general wellness, from maintaining glowing skin and luscious locks to supporting your immune system.

A snapshot of a few carrot vitamins and minerals

  • Vitamin K1. The K groups of vitamins aids blood clotting, which is important for helping wounds to heal.

  • Vitamin B6. This vitamin helps with the conversion of food into energy.

  • Vitamin C. Also known as ascorbic acid, this vitamin provides extra support for immunity and healing. This mineral plays an important role in blood pressure regulation. By helping to control the balance of fluids in the body, potassium takes the pressure off your heart and helps the muscle function properly.

High water content

Carrots are packed full of water. In fact, they are made of mainly water and carbohydrates.

Benefits of carrot water content

  • Aids weight management. Sticks of raw carrot are not only a low-calorie snack, the water content also means they’ll make you feel fuller too.

  • More water helps. As up to 60% of the human body is water 4, keeping this topped up is a very helpful thing.

5 carrot facts

Here are a few things you might not know about the orange veggie.

  • Fact 1: Carrots are made up of 88% water 5

  • Fact 2: A single, large carrot can give you more than 200% of your daily target for vitamin A.6

  • Fact 3: Not all carrots are orange. There are approximately 20 species of the vegetable worldwide. This includes white, yellow and purple varieties.7

  • Fact 4: Carrots have a higher sugar content than many vegetables. But this shouldn’t deter you from eating them.

  • Fact 5: Did you know rabbits don't naturally eat carrots? In fact, due to their sugar content they should be restricted to an occasional treat for our fluffy-tailed friends.8

Raw v cooked - a carrot vitamin breakdown 9

Eating this vegetable in any form is going to give you a good dose of carrot vitamins. But if you’re wondering how to get the biggest hit of beta-carotene, cooking your carrots maximises your intake of this nutrient10/11. So, eating them puréed into soup, roasted, cooked or added to a casserole is a great way to get the most carrot vitamin from a meal.

The nutritional profile of cooked and raw carrots


Raw (per 100g 12 ) Cooked (per 100g 13)
Calories 41 (172KJ) 35 (147KJ)
Carbohydrates 9.6g 8.2g
Fibre 2.8g 3.0g
Fat 0.2g 0.2g
Protein 0.9g 0.8g
Vitamin A 16,705 IU 17,036 IU
Vitamin C 5.9mg 3.6mg
Vitamin E 0.7mg 1.0mg
Vitamin K 13.2mcg 13.7mcg
Vitamin B6 0.1mg 0.2mg
Calcium 33mg 30mg
Iron 0.3mg 0.3mg
Magnesium 12mg 10.0mg
Potassium 320mg 235mg
Sodium 69mg 58.0mg
Zinc 0.2g 0.2mg
Water 88.3g 90.2g

 

Is carrot rich in vitamin C? How much vitamin C is in carrot?

Vitamin C is the go-to nutrient to keep your immune system ticking over nicely. You can get a good dose of vitamin C from a wide range of fresh fruit and vegetables. Carrots included. Compared to red bell pepper, oranges, kiwi and broccoli,  carrot vitamin C content is modest. However, as your body can’t store this nutrient, it’s a good idea to eat a wide range of foods containing vitamin C so you get a regular dose.

Is it OK to eat carrots every day?

Low calorie, low fat and an abundance of vitamins and minerals make carrots a great addition to a healthy diet. Eating carrots every day is unlikely to cause you any side effects unless you eat excessive quantities. If you consume an unusually large quantity, it's possible to develop a condition called carotenemia14. It’s harmless, but a build-up of beta-carotene can cause your skin to take a yellow hue. It’s easily resolved by simply reducing carrot consumption.

Does carrot help sexually?

Back in Roman times carrots were regarded as aphrodisiacs. And even nowadays you may see them listed as a libido-enhancer 15 . But there’s also some science to suggest a link between cartenoids in carrots and sperm count and motility16.

Summary: The lowdown on carrot vitamins

Eating a variety of vegetables is one of the easiest ways for people to enhance their health and wellness. All vegetables contain a helpful dose of vitamins, minerals and fibre, but what carrots stand out for is offering a plentiful supply of beta-carotene.

As well as bringing a vibrant orange hue to your plate, this chemical also offers a number of wellness benefits, including helping with weight management, supporting the immune system and aiding healthy vision. They also just so happen to be rather tasty in everything from soups to salads.

Last Updated: 16th November 2020

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FoodNutrition

Donia Hilal,
Nutritionist

Joined Holland & Barrett: Jan 2018

Bsc in Nutrition, Registered Associate Nutritionist and Certification in Pre and Post Natal Nutrition

Donia started her career as a freelance nutritionist, later she joined Nestle as their Market Nutritionist to help support their healthier product range, before joining the team at Holland & Barrett in January 2018.

Donia has over 6 years experience as a Nutritionist and also works with clients on a one to one basis to support their goals which include weight loss, prenatal and postnatal nutrition and children’s health.