beta-carotene (generic name)

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Tradition

WARNING: DISCLAIMER: The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.
Acute respiratory infections, anemia, angina pectoris (chest pain), asbestosis (chronic lung disease), benign breast diseases, bone marrow transplantation, bronchial asthma, bronchopulmonary dysplasia in premature infants, diabetes, gastritis, glioblastoma, Graves' disease, high cholesterol, HIV, infections (sepsis), iron deficiency (prevention), leukemia (chronic myeloid), low birth weight (prevention), lung function (improving), nasal polyposis, nutrition supplementation (during alcohol rehabilitation), Streptococcal infections (group A), weight loss (HIV, post-partum).

Dosing

General

Formulations: Beta-carotene supplements are available in both oil matrix gelatin capsules and water-miscible forms. Some clinical trials have used water-miscible beta-carotene (10%) beadlets. The water miscible form seems to produce a significantly higher response in plasma beta-carotene (approximately 47% to 50%) than oil matrix gelatin capsules. Oral dosage is available in capsules (United States and Canada), tablets (United States and Canada), and chewable tablets (Canada).

Dietary intake: Consuming 5 servings of fruit and vegetables daily provides 6-8 milligrams of beta-carotene. Beta-carotene requires some dietary fat for absorption, but supplemental beta-carotene is similarly absorbed when taken with high-fat or low-fat meals. 1,800 micrograms of beta-carotene has been reported to maintain adequate vitamin A levels.

Consensus recommendations: The American Heart Association recommends obtaining antioxidants, including beta-carotene, from a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains rather than through supplements, until more information is available from randomized clinical trials. Similar statements have been released by the American Cancer Society, the World Cancer Research Institute in association with the American Institute for Cancer Research, and the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer. The Institute of Medicine has reviewed beta-carotene, but has not make recommendations for daily intake, citing lack of sufficient evidence. Routine use of beta-carotene supplements is not considered necessary in the general population.

Adults (18 years and older)

15-180 milligrams taken by mouth of supplemental beta-carotene has been studied for various indications.

Children (younger than 18 years)

There is insufficient available data to recommend high-dose oral (by mouth) supplementation in children.

Safety

DISCLAIMER: Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.

Allergies

People who are sensitive to beta-carotene, vitamin A, or any other ingredients in beta-carotene products should avoid supplemental use.

Side Effects and Warnings

Supplemental beta-carotene in children should be limited to specific medical indications. There is insufficient reliable information available about the safety of large doses of beta-carotene in pregnant or breastfeeding women.

Supplemental beta-carotene may increase the risk of lung cancer, prostate cancer, intracerebral hemorrhage, and cardiovascular and total mortality in people who smoke cigarettes or have a history of high-level exposure to asbestos. Beta-carotene from foods does not seem to have this effect.

In people who smoke, beta-carotene may increase cardiovascular mortality. In men who smoke and have had a prior myocardial infarction (MI or heart attack), the risk of fatal coronary heart disease increases by as much as 43% with low doses of beta-carotene. There is some evidence that beta-carotene in combination with selenium, vitamin C, and vitamin E might lower high-density lipoprotein 2 (HDL2) cholesterol levels. HDL levels are protective so this is considered to be a negative effect. Dizziness, reversible yellowing of palms, hands, or soles of feet and to a lesser extent the face (called carotenoderma) can occur with high doses of beta-carotene. Loose stools, diarrhea, unusual bleeding or bruising, and joint pain have been reported.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Pregnancy Risk Factor C.

Insufficient data are available on larger oral doses of beta-carotene in pregnant and breastfeeding woman.

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