Skip to content
    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Beta-Carotene

    Beta-carotene is a carotenoid, one of a group of plant pigments known to have antioxidant and other effects. This is a substance in plants that's quickly converted into vitamin A inside the body. Beta-carotene is often thought of as a form of vitamin A itself. Having normal levels of vitamin A is key for good vision, strong immunity, and general health.

    Why do people take beta-carotene?

    Beta-carotene has become popular in part because it's an antioxidant -- a substance that may protect cells from damage. A number of studies show that people who eat lots of fruits and vegetables that are rich in beta-carotene and other vitamins and minerals have a lower risk of some cancers and heart disease. However, so far studies have not found that beta-carotene supplements have the same health benefits as foods.

    Beta-carotene supplements may help people with specific health problems. Supplements might be used in someone with a clear vitamin A deficiency. They also might help those with the genetic condition erythropoietic protoporphyria (EPP). Both conditions are rare.

    How much beta-carotene should you take?

    While there is a recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for vitamin A, there is no RDA for beta-carotene specifically. Studies have used dosages ranging between 15 and 180 milligrams a day.

    There is no set tolerable upper intake level (UL) for beta-carotene. However, high doses or long-term use may be dangerous.

    Many experts recommend a combination of supplemental carotenoids (lutein, carotenes, zeaxanthine, lycopene, etc), rather than simply beta-carotene. The correct dose of mixed carotenoids for temporary or long-term use is unclear.

    Can you get beta-carotene naturally from foods?

    The American Heart Association suggests that you get beta-carotene (and other antioxidants) from food rather than supplements. Good food sources of beta-carotene include:

    • Carrots
    • Sweet potatoes
    • Winter squash
    • Spinach and kale
    • Fruits like cantaloupe and apricots

    Beta-carotene levels are highest in fresh fruits and vegetables. Frozen and canned varieties generally have less.

    Hot Topics

    WebMD Video: Now Playing

    Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

    Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

    Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

    Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

    disciplining a boy
    Types, symptoms, causes.
    fruit drinks
    Eat these to think better.
    embarrassed woman
    Do you feel guilty after eating?
    diabetes highlighted
    4 early warning signs.
    handful of vegetables and vitamins
    Diet tips and mistakes.
    birth control pills
    Which kind is right for you?
    Remember your finger
    Are you getting more forgetful?
    sticky notes on face
    10 tips to clear your brain fog.
    Close up of eye
    12 reasons you're distracted.
    Trainer demonstrating exercise for RA
    Exercises for your joints.
    apple slices with peanut butter
    What goes best with workouts?
    woman having a good day
    Revitalize your life.

    Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

    It's nothing to sneeze at.

    Loading ...

    Sending your email...

    This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

    Thanks!

    Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

    Women's Health Newsletter

    Find out what women really need.