Beta carotene: A vitamin that acts as an antioxidant, protecting cells against oxidation damage. Beta carotene is converted by the body to vitamin A. Food sources of beta carotene include vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach and other leafy green vegetables; and fruit such as cantaloupes and apricots. Excessive carotene in the diet can color the skin yellow, a condition called carotenemia. Carotenemia is sometimes seen in infants fed too many mashed carrots and is a reversible condition. Beta carotene supplements have been found not to reduce the risks for cancer or heart disease.