All About Vitamins

Betacarotene
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Why betacarotene is good for you

Betacarotene is part of the powerful carotene family of vitamins and is the precursor of Vitamin A. Betacarotene is responsible for the orange colour of carrots and other other orange coloured fruits and vegetables.

Some of the betacarotene in foods eaten gets converted to Vitamin A in the liver and small intestine, as necessary by the body, while the rest acts as a powerful antioxidant within the body to remove free radicals.

Betacarotene is the most abundant of the carotenes.

CAUTION:
Heavy smokers
, former smokers and heavy drinkers should NOT take high levels of betacarotene supplements. See below for the evidence about this.

 

Important betacarotene facts

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Groups at risk of betacarotene deficiency

Talk to a medical professional about betacarotene supplements BEFORE taking them.

 

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Symptoms of betacarotene deficiency

None known.
 

 

Betacarotene and health

Talk to a medical professional about betacarotene supplements BEFORE taking them.

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Betacarotene in food

Food Amount Betacarotene (mcg)
Sweet potato, cooked 1 medium 9230
Carrot 1 medium 8100
Collard greens cooked ½ cup 7400
Spinach, cooked ½ cup 7290
Winter squash, cooked ½ cup 6560
Kale, cooked ½ cup 4560
Apricots, fresh 3 2890
Rockmelon (cantaloupe) 1 cup 2720
Pepper, sweet red ½ cup 2225
Peach, yellow 1 large 2030>
Broccoli, cooked ½ cup 1940
Tomato Juice 1 cup 1460
Asparagus, cooked 1 cup 1220
Tomato 1 medium 1110
Prunes, stewed ½ cup 1065
Watermelon, cubed 1 cup 940
Peas ½ cup 430
Brussels sprouts ½ cup 405
Orange 1 medium 400
Green beans, cooked ½ cup 340
Zucchini ½ cup 270
Banana 1 medium 230
Pepper, green ½ cup 210
Apple 1 medium 120
Cabbage ½ cup 90
Cauliflower 1 cup 80
Grapefruit ½ medium 80

 

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Betacarotene recommended daily intake (RDI)

There is currently no tolerable upper limit for betacarotene. There is, though, a tolerable upper limit for vitamin A (which is also shown in the table below).

RDA lifestage age amount
  INFANTS 0-6mths
7-12mths
400mcg (1320IU)
500mcg (1650IU)
  CHILDREN 1-3yrs
4-8yrs
300mcg (1000IU)
400mcg (1320IU)
  CHILDREN 9-13yrs
male: 14-18yrs
female: 14-18yrs
600mcg (2000IU)
900mcg (3000IU)
700mcg (2310IU)
  ADULTS male: 19-50yrs
female: 19-50yrs
900mcg (3000IU)
700mcg (2310IU)
  SENIORS male: 51+yrs
female: 51+yrs
900mcg (3000IU)
700mcg (2310IU)
  PREGNANT <18yrs
19-50yrs
750mcg (2500IU)
770mcg (2565IU)
  LACTATING <18yrs
19-50yrs
1200mcg (4000IU)
1300mcg (4300IU)
 
TOLERABLE UPPER LIMIT Lifestage Age Amount
  INFANTS 0-12mths 600mcg (2000IU)
  CHILDREN 1-3yrs
4-8yrs
600mcg (2000IU)
900mcg (3000IU)
  CHILDREN 9-13yrs
14-18yrs
1700mcg (5610IU)
2800mcg (9240IU)
  ADULTS 19-50yrs 3000mcg (10000IU)
  SENIORS 51+yrs
3000mcg (10000IU)
  PREGNANT <18yrs
19-50yrs
2800mcg (9240IU)
2000mcg (10000IU)
  LACTATING <18yrs
19-50yrs
2800mcg (9240IU)
3000mcg (10000IU)
 
TOXIC LEVELS >60mg for otherwise healthy adults

smokers, former smokers and heavy drinkers should NOT take betacarotene at any dosage (see cautions below)


The tolerable upper limits should only be taken for short periods and only under medical supervision.

 

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Betacarotene works best with

Betacarotene works in synergy with the other major antioxidant vitamins:

 

Overdosage, toxicity and cautions for betacarotene

Overdosage of betacarotene causes the following symptoms:

Betacarotene overdosage symptoms are usually reversible.

Smokers, former smokers and heavy drinkers should NOT take betacarotene supplements. This group should get their betacarotene requirements from the fruits and vegetables they eat.

CAUTIONS

Published in 1996, the CARET (beta-Carotene and Retinol Efficacy Trial) study tested betacarotene and vitamin A supplements in people at high risk for lung cancer — smokers, former smokers, and asbestos-industry workers, as well as heavy drinkers. This study was done to determine how good these supplements were in reducing lung cancer in these groups of people, as it is well known that people with higher levels of betacarotene (from eating foods high in this nutrient) in their body had lower incidence of lung cancer.

The study was stopped when it became obvious that the people taking betacarotene (not even a high dose—just 30 milligrams a day) actually had a higher rate of lung cancer and higher mortality rate than those taking a placebo.

The betacarotene supplements increased the lung cancer risks only in people who smoked more than a pack a day and/or drank "above-average" amounts of alcohol.

Another large Finnish study published two years earlier showed similar results.

People who fall into these groups (heavy smoker, former smoker, current or former asbestos-industry workers and heavy drinkers) should NOT take betacarotene supplements. These people should instead get their betacarotene requirements from the foods they eat.



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Last reviewed: 1 January 2009 || Last updated: 1 January 2009

 

NOTE: Mega doses of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, or other supplements cannot cure illnesses and in fact can be very dangerous and produce toxic side effects and interfere with medicine you are taking. Always ensure you consult your doctor before taking any type of nutrient supplement.
Disclaimer: This guide is not intended to be used for diagnostic or prescriptive purposes. For any treatment or diagnosis of illness, please see your doctor.

 

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