Macular Degeneration. The age related eye disease study found that taking a vitamin supplement high in zinc, beta carotene, vitamin c and e reduced the risk of vision loss in eyes at intermediate to high risk of macular degeneration. Many people now recommend the version of the vitamin containing lutein instead, although the original vitamin continues to be effective. This can be extrapolated as a general dietary recommendation, and dietary studies have also found foods containing carotenoids to be useful in reducing the risk of macular degeneration.
Yes. Although high dose beta carotene has been associated with an increase in mortality in smokers, high doses of dietary carotenoids are associated in epidemiological studies with a decrease in cardiovascular disease and some cancers. Some excellent information on carotenoids is available here: http://lpi.Oregonstate.Edu/infocenter/phytochemicals/carotenoids/. Eat your carrots!