Submitted to: Encyclopedia of Dietary Supplements
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/1/2004
Publication Date: 12/29/2004
Citation: Johnson, E.J., Russell, R.M. 2004. Beta-carotene. In: Coates, P., Blackman, M., Cragg, G.M., Levine, M.A., Moss, J., White, J.D. Editors. Encyclopedia of Dietary Supplements. New York, NY: Marcel Dekker. p. 81-87.
Technical Abstract: Beta-carotene is a fat soluble plant pigment found in red, orange and yellow vegetables and fruits. Beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A, when the body is in short supply. Beta-Carotene is an antioxidant, a compound that blocks the action of activated oxygen molecules that can damage cells. Dietary intake of beta-carotene containing foods has been associated with cancer prevention. As a supplement, there is not enough evidence to show that it prevents cancer and cardiovascular disease. In fact, beta-carotene supplementation may increase the risk of lung cancer among people already at high risk, such as smokers. Also, beta-carotene treatment trials found that beta-carotene supplementation led to a small but significant increase in all-cause mortality and a slight but significant increase in cardiovascular disease. There is no evidence to suggest that beta-carotene intake from foods is harmful.