Beta-Carotene

How does Beta-carotene work?

Beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A, an essential nutrient. It has antioxidant activity, which helps to protect cells from damage.

Are there safety concerns?

Beta-carotene is safe when used for certain specific medical conditions and taken in appropriate amounts. However, beta-carotene supplements are not recommended for general use.

High doses of beta-carotene, especially taken long-term, are not safe. High doses of beta-carotene can turn skin yellow or orange. In people who smoke or who have been exposed to asbestos, beta-carotene supplements might increase the risk of cancer.

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 and possibly other serious side effects. 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.

Do not take beta-carotene if:
  • You are pregnant or breast-feeding.
  • You smoke.
  • You have been exposed to high-levels of asbestos.
  • You are going to have angioplasty, a heart procedure.

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Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

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