beta-Carotene is a strongly-colored red-orange pigment abundant in plants and fruits.
It is an organic compound and chemically is classified as a hydrocarbon and specifically as a terpenoid (isoprenoid), reflecting its derivation from isoprene units.
Plant carotenoids are the primary dietary source of provitamin A worldwide, with beta-carotene as the most well-known provitamin A carotenoid. Others include alpha-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin.
Carotenoid absorption is restricted to the duodenum of the small intestine and dependent on Class B scavenger receptor (SR-B1) membrane protein, which are also responsible for the absorption of vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol).