Caution:Synthetic beta-carotene has been linked to increased risk of lung cancer in smokers. Until more is known, smokers should avoid all beta-carotene supplements.
Beta-carotene supplementation, even in very large amounts, is not known to cause any serious side effects,338, 339 however, excessive intake (more than 100,000 IU, or 60 mg per day) sometimes gives the skin a yellow-orange hue. People taking beta-carotene for long periods of time should also supplement with vitamin E, as beta-carotene may reduce vitamin E levels.340 Beta carotene supplementation may also decrease blood levels of lutein, another carotenoid.341
Preliminary studies in animals indicate that beta-carotene supplementation, when combined with heavy alcohol consumption, may enhance liver toxicity.342 Until more is known, alcoholics and persons who consume alcohol on a daily basis should avoid supplementing with beta-carotene.
One study showed a slightly increased risk of vascular surgery among people with intermittent claudication who took beta-carotene supplements.343 Until more is known, persons wishing to use beta-carotene supplements should first consult with their doctor.
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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2014.