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Beta-carotene is one of a group of red, orange, and yellow pigments called carotenoids. Beta-carotene and other carotenoids provide approximately 50% of the vitamin A needed in the American diet. Beta-carotene can be found in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. It can also be made in a laboratory.

Beta-carotene is used for an inherited disorder marked by sensitivity to light (erythropoietic protoporphyria or EPP). It is also used to prevent certain cancers, heart disease, cataracts, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses.

There are many global health authorities that recommend getting beta-carotene and other antioxidants from food instead of supplements. Eating five servings of fruits and vegetables daily provides 6-8 mg of beta-carotene.

Natural Medicines rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.
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Beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A, an essential nutrient. It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity, which help to protect cells from damage.

When taken by mouth: Beta-carotene is LIKELY SAFE in adults and children when taken in appropriate amounts for certain medical conditions. However, beta-carotene supplements are not recommended for general use.

Beta-carotene supplements are POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth in high doses, especially when taken long-term. High doses of beta-carotene can turn skin yellow or orange.

There is growing concern that taking high doses of antioxidant supplements such as beta-carotene might do more harm than good. Some research shows that taking high doses of beta-carotene supplements might increase the chance of death from all causes, increase the risk of certain cancers, and possibly cause other serious side effects. In addition, there is also concern that taking large amounts of a multivitamin plus a separate beta-carotene supplement increases the chance of developing advanced prostate cancer in men.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Beta-carotene is LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth in appropriate amounts. However, large doses of beta-carotene supplements are not recommended for general use during pregnancy and breast-feeding.

Children: Beta-carotene is LIKELY SAFE when used orally and appropriately.

History of asbestos exposure: In people who have been exposed to asbestos, beta-carotene supplements might increase the risk of cancer. Don't take beta-carotene supplements if you have been exposed to asbestos.

Smoking: In people who smoke, beta-carotene supplements might increase the risk of colon, lung, and prostate cancer. Don't take beta-carotene supplements if you smoke.

Medications used for lowering cholesterol (Statins)

Interaction Rating=Moderate Be cautious with this combination.

Taking beta-carotene, selenium, vitamin C, and vitamin E together might decrease the effectiveness of some medications used for lowering cholesterol. It is not known if beta-carotene alone decreases the effectiveness of some medications used for lowering cholesterol.

Some medications used for lowering cholesterol include atorvastatin (Lipitor), fluvastatin (Lescol), lovastatin (Mevacor), and pravastatin (Pravachol).

Niacin

Interaction Rating=Moderate Be cautious with this combination.

Taking beta-carotene along with vitamin E, vitamin C, and selenium might decrease some of the beneficial effects of niacin. Niacin can increase the good cholesterol. Taking beta-carotene along with these other vitamins might decrease the good cholesterol.

Lutein: Taking beta-carotene supplements might lower levels of lutein in the body.

Alcohol (Ethanol): Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can reduce the level of beta-carotene in the body and increase the level of another chemical called retinol. Researchers are concerned that this might increase the risk of cancer. But more research is needed to find out whether this concern is justified.
Olestra (fat substitute): Olestra may interfere with the action of beta-carotene in the body. Olestra lowers serum beta-carotene concentrations in healthy people by 27%.

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

ADULTS

BY MOUTH:

  • For an inherited disorder marked by sensitivity to light (erythropoietic protoporphyria or EPP): 180 mg of beta-carotene per day has been used. If this dose is not effective, the dose can be increased to 300 mg per day.
  • For preventing sunburn: A specific product (Betatene by Betatene Ltd or Cognis Australia Pty. Ltd) containing 24-25 mg of beta-carotene along with other carotenoids has been used for 12 weeks.
  • For preventing complications after childbirth: 42 mg of beta-carotene weekly
CHILDREN

BY MOUTH:
  • For an inherited disorder marked by sensitivity to light (erythropoietic protoporphyria or EPP): Dosage is based on age. For age 1 to 4, the daily dose is 60-90 mg; age 5 to 8 years, 90-120 mg; age 9 to 12 years, 120-150 mg; age 13 to 16 years, 150-180 mg; and age 16 and older, 180 mg. If people still remain too sensitive to the sun using these doses, beta-carotene can be increased by 30-60 mg per day for children under 16 years old, and up to a total of 300 mg per day for people older than age 16.
The recommended daily intake of beta-carotene has not been set because there hasn't been enough research.

Beta-carotene supplements are available in two forms. One is water-based, and the other is oil-based. Studies show that the water-based version seems to be absorbed better.

A-Beta-Carotene, A-Bêta-Carotène, Beta Carotene, Bêta-Carotène, Bêta-Carotène Tout Trans, Beta-Caroteno, Carotenes, Carotènes, Carotenoids, Caroténoïdes, Caroténoïdes Mélangés, Mixed Carotenoids, Provitamin A, Provitamine A.

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