Alpha-carotene is part of the carotenoid family, and is one of the most abundant carotenoids in a healthy diet. Your body can convert alpha and beta-carotene into vitamin A for the maintenance of healthy skin and bones, good vision, and a robust immune system. Because the body converts alpha-carotene to vitamin A, alpha-carotene is called a precursor to vitamin A, or a provitamin A compound. As a precursor to vitamin A, alpha-carotene is only about half as effective as beta-carotene, another well-known carotenoid. However, alpha-carotene may be even more effective than beta-carotene in its role as an antioxidant. Antioxidants are enzymes that stop free radicals from causing cells to break down, or oxidize. Powerful antioxidants like alpha-carotene remove destructive free radicals from the body before they cause the tissue damage that can lead to chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer. In addition, alpha-carotene may help prevent cancer by stimulating cell-to-cell communication, a process which researchers now believe is necessary to ensure proper cell division.