A vegetable superfan ate so many carrots that she was left with a Bright orange glitter “like an Oompa Loompa.”
Dena Rendall, who lives in Edinburgh, ate up to 10 carrots, three peppers and a sweet potato a day in a bid to improve her health.
But the 21-year-old became concerned when others noticed her skin had turned orange and assumed a dodgy fake tan, a makeup disaster or jaundice was to blame.
However, after looking up her condition online, she self-diagnosed carotenemia, a buildup in the blood of the pigment that gives carrots and other fruits and vegetables a yellow, orange or red color.
The customer experience worker only reduced her carrot intake to eight a day after a shocking photo showed her looking eerily similar to Roald Dahl’s orange-faced characters in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Mrs Rendall now eats around six carrots a day (she buys 6kg from Asda each week and spends £40 on vegetables in total), which she applauds as leaving her tanned “all year round”.
Dena Rendall, 21, from Edinburgh, says her bright orange glow comes from her love of carrots and she used to eat up to 10 a day.
Rendall’s love for carrots began at age 12, when he began eating about one or two a day, which slowly increased until he reached 10 a day.
She said: ‘When I started dieting, I started eating carrots, but in a normal amount, maybe one or two a day.
‘Then at some point I ate ten carrots every day.
“I really love carrots and enjoy eating a lot of them a day, but I know I don’t necessarily eat them in a way that is normal for other people.
“I have convinced myself that I never feel bad thanks to all the fruits and vegetables I eat in a day.”
Her classmates asked her what fake tan she was wearing or if she was wearing makeup, which made her feel insecure. This photo taken before her 18th birthday party exposed the striking color difference between her neck and her face.
The first time she noticed the change in her skin color was at school, when her classmates started asking her if she was wearing fake tan or makeup.
Rendall said: “People at school started to notice and asked me if I was wearing a fake tan, which made me a little insecure.”
‘Every time I walked into school people would say, “Oh, are you wearing makeup today?”
“I’m not someone who wears makeup and that’s why I think people were like, ‘Have you tried makeup and failed miserably?’ because you don’t wear makeup regularly.”
His mother also noticed the color of his skin and was concerned that he might have jaundice (yellowing of the skin due to a liver problem).
At the time, she had not linked her addiction to carrots to the yellowing of her skin.
However, her mother then remembered a cousin who used to eat a lot of carrots and sometimes looked a little orange.
After investigating her symptoms, Ms. Rendall self-diagnosed carotenemia.
The condition is caused by a buildup of beta-carotene (the pigment in red, orange, and yellow fruits and vegetables) in the blood, which can give the skin an orange hue.
It is not just carrots that cause this condition. Apricots, melons, mangoes, oranges, pumpkins and sweet potatoes are also high in beta-carotene and are therefore the culprits when consumed in large quantities.
Carotenemia is usually a sign that someone is following a restrictive diet by eating large amounts of a specific food, leaving them at risk of not getting enough nutrients from other types of foods.
Rendall ate up to ten carrots, three peppers and one sweet potato each day to improve his health.
He confesses to spending £40 a week on vegetables alone and buying 6kg of carrots at Asda.
After Googling his symptoms to get to the bottom of what was causing his orange glow, he revealed that he had carotenemia and was not tanned.
Rendall decided to reduce his carrot consumption from 10 to eight a day after a photograph exposed the shocking color difference between his neck and face.
She said: ‘I was on the way to my friend’s 18th birthday party and I was getting ready with all my friends and we were taking photos.
‘No one told me I looked particularly orange when we were getting ready, it was just when we turned on the flash and everyone started laughing.
‘I didn’t know what was so funny and I thought, Oh my God, that can’t be real. He looked like an Oompa Loompa! I put on mascara but no makeup at all, I haven’t worn makeup since I was 13.
‘At that moment I decided to reduce from 10 to eight carrots. It’s not something I would notice, but more people would notice and point it out to me.’
Once she reduced her carrot intake, her orange hue became less obvious and the comments about her tone calmed down. Rendall now eats about six carrots a day.
She said: “I’m a pale blonde girl with very light skin, but I eat so many carrots I can tan all year round.”
Rendall added: “I never think I have to eat carrots, that’s just what I eat, I don’t think about it.”
Rendall decided to reduce her consumption of 10 carrots a day to eight, which helped improve the appearance of her skin.
Reducing carrot consumption made their orange hue less obvious. Carotenemia can also cause the palms of the hands and soles of the feet to turn yellow.
‘When people ask me what suntan lotion I use and I tell them I eat a lot of carrots, they think I’m joking.
“Some days I look orange and other days it’s just a nice natural glow, it changes.”
He encouraged others to try adding more carrots to their diet, rather than resorting to sun loungers, which emit ultraviolet light that increases the risk of skin cancer.
She said: “It’s definitely healthier than sun loungers.” I’m very anti-sunbathers, I don’t think it’s healthy at all. I don’t think it’s worth risking the negative effects, so I think I’ll just stick with my carrots.
‘I would definitely encourage people looking to change their skin tone, why not? It’s not going to have a negative impact on you, but maybe not as much as I do, where it’s an obsession and a fixation.
‘I wouldn’t encourage people to go that far, but if you want to add carrots to your diet to change the pigment in your skin, it’s not harmful, so why not? Everything is in moderation.’
According to dermatologists, an average carrot has about 4 milligrams of beta-carotene and people would need to consume between 20 and 50 milligrams per day for weeks before noticing a difference in their skin color.
While carotenemia is not dangerous and disappears within a few months, it is recommended to consume a variety of nutritious foods in the correct amounts to maintain good health.
What is carotenemia?
Carotenemia is a condition characterized by discoloration of the skin with a yellowish-orange pigment. It can be caused by prolonged intake of foods rich in carotene.
Carotene is a lipochrome that adds a yellow color to the skin. It is found in pigmented fruits and vegetables such as orange, pumpkin, papaya, mango, carrot and cabbage.
It is synthesized in fruits as they ripen. In vegetables, it is hidden by the green color of chlorophyll. Often, the yellower or greener a vegetable is, the more carotene it contains.
Eating too much of any food naturally high in beta-carotene, such as apricots, mangoes, pumpkin, or sweet potatoes, has the potential to turn your skin orange.
This occurs due to high blood levels of beta-carotene that build up in the body.
It can also cause the palms of your hands and soles of your feet to turn yellow.
However, the desired orange glow could also mask other more serious health conditions, such as jaundice.