Natural Standard® Patient Monograph, Copyright © 2014 (www.naturalstandard.com). All Rights Reserved. Commercial distribution prohibited. This monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions.

Common Brand Name(s)
Optimax

Background
Beta-carotene is a carotenoid. Carotenoids are red, orange, or yellow, fat-soluble compounds. These compounds are naturally present in many fruits, grains, oils, and vegetables. Alpha, beta, and gamma carotene are considered provitamins because they can be converted to active vitamin A.

Commercially available beta-carotene is man-made or taken from palm oil, algae, or fungi. Beta-carotene is converted to retinol, which is essential for vision and growth.
Studies in humans show that beta-carotene has promising use for oral leukoplakia (pre-cancerous mouth lesions) and for sunburn. However there was a lack of benefit for sun damaged skin, mole prevention, heart disease risk, infection with H. Pylori, cataract prevention, diabetes, and stroke.

Research shows that beta-carotene increased the risk of bladder, lung, stomach, and prostate cancer. Also the general incidence of cancer in asbestos workers, smokers, or high risk individuals increased. Additionally, some research suggested increased risk of heart disease and death with beta-carotene supplementation.

Related terms

A-beta-carotene, A-bêta-carotène (French), A-caro-25, alpha carotene, alpha-carotene, B-caro, beta carotene, beta-carotene, bêta-carotène (French), bêta-carotène tout trans (French), beta-caroteno (Spanish), beta-cryptoxanthin, biotene, Caroguard®, Caro-Plete™, caro-t, carotene, carotenes, carotenes (French), carotenoids, caroténoïdes (French), caroténoïdes mélanges (French), dry beta-carotene, eyebright, gamma carotene, gamma-carotene, green leafy vegetables, Lumitene®, marine carotene, Max-Caro®, Mega Carotene®, mixed carotenoids, Oceanic Beta®, orange fruit, orange vegetables, palm oil, provitamin A, provitamine A (French), red palm oil, retinol, sunflower oil, Superbeta Carotene®, synthetic all-trans beta-carotene, Ultra Beta Carotene®.

Dosing

The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.
Adults (18 years and older)

The American Heart Association recommends beta-carotene from a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains rather than through supplements. Consuming five servings of fruit and vegetables daily provides 6-8 milligrams of beta-carotene.
For age-related macular degeneration, 20-50 milligrams beta-carotene has been taken by mouth daily for 5-14.2 years.

For cancer prevention, 6-75 milligrams of beta-carotene has been taken by mouth daily or every other day for 1-14.2 years. Note: Some research has found an increased risk of death or cancer with beta-carotene supplementation.
For cataracts, 20-50 milligrams of beta-carotene has been taken daily or every other day for 5-8 years.

For chemotherapy side effects, 250 milligrams beta-carotene has been taken by mouth daily for 21 days followed by 75 milligrams daily.

For chronic lung conditions, 20 milligrams of beta-carotene has been taken by mouth daily for 5-8 years.

For cystic fibrosis, 10-300 milligrams of beta-carotene has been taken daily for 14 days to 14 months.

For diabetes, 50 milligrams of beta-carotene has been taken every other day for nine years.

For erythropoietic protoporphyria, 25-300 milligrams of beta-carotene has been taken by mouth daily.

For HIV, 60mg of beta-carotene has been taken three times by mouth daily for 1-3 months.

For mortality reduction, 1.2-50 milligrams of beta-carotene has been taken daily or on alternate days for 28 days to 14.1 years. Note: Some research has found an increased risk of death or cancer with beta-carotene supplementation.
For oral leukoplakia, 60-360 milligrams of beta-carotene has been taken by mouth daily or weekly for six months to one year.

For polymorphous light eruption, 75-180 milligrams of beta-carotene has been taken by mouth daily.

For pregnancy, 4.5 milligrams of beta-carotene has been taken daily beginning before 20 weeks pregnancy; also 2.173-2.307 milligrams of beta-carotene in red palm oil has been taken by mouth daily for eight weeks beginning at 26-28 weeks of pregnancy.
For sunburn, 15-180 milligrams of beta-carotene has been taken by mouth daily for 3-24 weeks.

Children (younger than 18 years)
For erythropoietic protoporphyria, for ages 1-4 years, the daily dose was 60-90 milligrams beta-carotene by mouth, for age 5-8 the daily dose was 90-120 milligrams, for age 9-12 the daily dose was 120-150 milligrams, for age 13-16 the daily dose was 150-180 milligrams, and for age 16 and older the daily dose was 180 milligrams beta-carotene by mouth, with a potential to increase by 30-60 milligrams daily in children under 16 years, and up to a total of 300 milligrams daily in those over 16 if there is resistance. Also, 30-150 milligrams of beta-carotene has been taken daily by mouth.

For polymorphous light eruption 30-150 milligrams of beta-carotene has been taken daily by mouth.

Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

Allergies

Avoid in people with known allergy or sensitivity to beta-carotene, vitamin A, or any other ingredients in beta-carotene products, such as food preservatives or dyes.
Side Effects and Warnings
Beta-carotene is likely safe when consumed by adults and children in food, in amounts found naturally in food.

Beta-carotene is possibly safe when used short-term as a supplement under the direction of a health care provider.

Beta-carotene may cause burping, constipation, diarrhea, dizziness, headache, increased risk of disease (including bladder cancer, colds, coronary heart disease, lung cancer, mortality, prostate cancer, and stomach cancer), joint pain, lung problems, muscle pain, stomach and intestine problems, vision problems, worsening cholesterol levels, yellow deposits in the eyes, and yellowing of the skin.
Beta-carotene may increase the risk of bleeding or bruising. Caution is advised in people with bleeding disorders or taking drugs that may increase the risk of bleeding. Dosing adjustments may be necessary.

Use cautiously in people who have eating disorders, eye disorders, kidney disorders, lung disorders, musculoskeletal disorders, or nervous system disorders.

Use cautiously in combination with antibiotics, cholesterol-lowering agents, fat substitutes, iron, lutein, mineral oil, nicotine, orlistat, plant sterols, proton pump inhibitors, very low-fat diets, and vitamin E.

Avoid using beta-carotene supplements alone or with other antioxidant vitamins, immediately before and after angioplasty (surgery for blocked arteries).

Avoid in children and in pregnant or breastfeeding women.

Avoid in people who smoke, drink high levels of alcohol, and have an increased risk of cancer, a history of exposure to asbestos, a liver disorder, or heart disease.

Avoid in people with known allergy or sensitivity to beta-carotene, vitamin A, or any other ingredients in beta-carotene products, such as food preservatives or dyes.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
There is a lack of scientific evidence on the use of beta-carotene supplementation during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Interactions

Interactions with Drugs
Beta-carotene may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with drugs that increase the risk of bleeding. Some examples include aspirin, anticoagulants (“blood thinners”) such as warfarin (Coumadin®) or heparin, anti-platelet drugs such as clopidogrel (Plavix®), and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) or naproxen (Naprosyn®, Aleve®).

Beta-carotene may also interact with agents for the skin, eyes, stomach, intestines, lungs, or liver; agents for Alzheimer’s, asthma, cancer, diabetes, gout, inflammation, or ulcers; agents that affect the immune, nervous, or musculoskeletal systems; alcohol; antibiotics; antivirals; cholesterol-lowering agents; heart agents; iron; mineral oil; nicotine; orlistat (Xenical®); or thyroid hormones.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements
Beta-carotene may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with herbs and supplements that are believed to increase the risk of bleeding. Multiple cases of bleeding have been reported with the use of Ginkgo biloba, and fewer cases with garlic and saw palmetto. Numerous other agents may theoretically increase the risk of bleeding, although this has not been proven in most cases.

Beta-carotene may also interact with alcohol; antibiotics; antioxidants; antiviral herbs and supplements; canthaxanthin; cholesterol-lowering herbs and supplements; fish oil; heart herbs and supplements; herbs and supplements for the skin, eyes, stomach, intestines, lungs, or liver; herbs and supplements for Alzheimer’s, asthma, cancer, diabetes, gout, inflammation, or ulcers; herbs and supplements that affect the immune, nervous, or musculoskeletal systems; iron; lutein; lycopene; mineral oil; multivitamins; nicotine; plant sterols; red palm oil; sunflower oil; thyroid hormones; vitamins A, C, and E; or zinc.

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