ALERTS & COVID-19 UPDATES Learn more: COVID-19 Resources; COVID-19 Testing; Vaccine Info; Visitor Policy; Support Us.

Introduction

Beta-carotene is a red-orange compound found in fruits and vegetables. The body turns it into vitamin A. Beta-carotene has been used to help the body fight illness. It has also been used as an antioxidant to help slow damage to cells. Beta-carotene can be taken as a pill or powder.

Dosages

5 to 15 milligrams once per day

What Research Shows

May Be Effective

Beta-carotene may help:

Unlikely to Be Effective

Beta-carotene does not appear to be effective for:

Not Enough Data to Assess

There is not enough information to show if beta-carotene is or is not effective for:

Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.

Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.

Safety Notes

It is likely safe for most people to take beta-carotene in small doses for a short time, but it may increase the risk of cancer, stroke, and other health problems in smokers and people with a history of asbestos exposure.N1-N7 Large amounts of beta-carotene should not be taken, especially by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Smokers and people with a history of asbestos exposure should not use beta-carotene. Not enough studies have been done to say whether it is safe for others to use for a long period.

Interactions

Talk to your doctor about any supplements or therapy you would like to use. Some can interfere with treatment or make conditions worse.

References

REFA Cancer

REFA1 Jiang L, Yang KH, et al. Efficacy of antioxidant vitamins and selenium supplement in prostate cancer prevention: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Nutr Cancer. 2010;62(6):719-727.

REFA2 Jeon YJ, Myung SK, et al. Effects of beta-carotene supplements on cancer prevention: meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Nutr Cancer. 2011 Nov;63(8):1196-1207.

REFA3 Cortés-Jofré M, Rueda JR, et al. Drugs for preventing lung cancer in healthy people. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012 Oct 17;10:CD002141.

REFA4 Pais R, Dumitraşcu DL. Do antioxidants prevent colorectal cancer? A meta-analysis. Rom J Intern Med. 2013 Jul-Dec;51(3-4):152-163.

REFA5 Fortmann SP, Burda BU, et al. Vitamin and mineral supplements in the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease and cancer: An updated systematic evidence review for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Ann Intern Med. 2013 Dec 17;159(12):824-834.

REFA6 Leoncini E, Nedovic D, et al. Carotenoid Intake from Natural Sources and Head and Neck Cancer: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Epidemiological Studies. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2015 Jul;24(7):1003-1011.

REFA7 Park SJ, Myung SK, et al. Effects of Vitamin and Antioxidant Supplements in Prevention of Bladder Cancer: a Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. J Korean Med Sci. 2017 Apr;32(4):628-635.

REFB Cardiovascular Disease

REFB1 Fortmann SP, Burda BU, et al. Vitamin and mineral supplements in the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease and cancer: An updated systematic evidence review for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Ann Intern Med. 2013 Dec 17;159(12):824-834.

REFB2 Ye Y, Li J, Yuan Z. Effect of antioxidant vitamin supplementation on cardiovascular outcomes: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. PLoS One. 2013;8(2):e56803.

REFC Cataracts

REFC1 Wang A, Han J, et al. Association of vitamin A and β-carotene with risk for age-related cataract: a meta-analysis. Nutrition. 2014 Oct;30(10):1113-1121.

REFD Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

REFD1 Tsiligianni IG, van der Molen T. A systematic review of the role of vitamin insufficiencies and supplementation in COPD. Respir Res. 2010 Dec 6;11:171.

REFE Cognitive Function

REFE1 Butler M, Nelson VA, et al. Over-the-Counter Supplement Interventions to Prevent Cognitive Decline, Mild Cognitive Impairment, and Clinical Alzheimer-Type Dementia: A Systematic Review. Ann Intern Med. 2018 Jan 2;168(1):52-62.

REFE2 Rutjes AW, Denton DA, et al. Vitamin and mineral supplementation for maintaining cognitive function in cognitively healthy people in mid and late life. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018 Dec 17;12:CD011906.

REFF Cystic Fibrosis

REFF1 F1. de Vries JJ, Chang AB, et al. Vitamin A and beta (β)-carotene supplementation for cystic fibrosis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018 Aug 9;8:CD006751.

Dementia

REFG1 Li FJ, Shen L, et al. Dietary intakes of vitamin E, vitamin C, and β-carotene and risk of Alzheimer's disease: a meta-analysis. J Alzheimers Dis. 2012;31(2):253-258.

REFH Diabetes

REFH1 Asemi Z, Alizadeh SA, et al. Effects of beta-carotene fortified symbiotic food on metabolic control of patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus: A double-blind randomized cross-over controlled clinical trial. Clin Nutr. 2016;35(4):819-825.

REFI Endometrial Cancer

REFI1 Bandera EV, Gifkins DM, et al. Antioxidant vitamins and the risk of endometrial cancer: a dose-response meta-analysis. Cancer Causes Control. 2009 Jul;20(5):699-711.

REFJ Hip Fracture

REFJ1 Xu J, Song C, et al. Carotenoids and risk of fracture: a meta-analysis of observational studies. Oncotarget. 2017 Jan 10;8(2):2391-2399.

REFK Liver Disease

REFK1 Bjelakovic G, Gluud LL, et al. Antioxidant supplements for liver diseases. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011 Mar 16;(3):CD007749.

REFL Macular Degeneration

REFL1 Sin HP, Liu DT, et al. Lifestyle modification, nutritional and vitamins supplements for age-related macular degeneration. Acta Ophthalmol. 2013 Feb;91(1):6-11.

REFL2 Evans JR, Lawrenson JG. Antioxidant vitamin and mineral supplements for preventing age-related macular degeneration. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017 Jul 30;7:CD000253.

REFM Pregnancy Outcomes

REFM1 Thorne-Lyman AL, Fawzi WW. Vitamin A and carotenoids during pregnancy and maternal, neonatal and infant health outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol. 2012 Jul;26 Suppl 1:36-54.

REFN Safety

REFN1 Rapola JM, Virtamo J, et al. Randomised trial of alpha-tocopherol and beta-carotene supplements on incidence of major coronary events in men with previous myocardial infarction. Lancet. 1997 Jun 14;349(9067):1715-1720.

REFN2 Heinonen OP, Albanes D, et al. Prostate cancer and supplementation with alpha-tocopherol and beta-carotene: incidence and mortality in a controlled trial. J Natl Cancer Inst. 1998 Mar 18;90(6):440-446.

REFN3 Leppälä JM, Virtamo J, et al. Controlled trial of alpha-tocopherol and beta-carotene supplements on stroke incidence and mortality in male smokers. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2000 Jan;20(1):230-235.

REFN4 Leppälä JM, Virtamo J, et al. Vitamin E and beta carotene supplementation in high risk for stroke: a subgroup analysis of the Alpha-Tocopherol, Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention Study. Arch Neurol. 2000 Oct;57(10):1503-1509.

REFN5 Bjelakovic G, Nikolova D, et al. Mortality in randomized trials of antioxidant supplements for primary and secondary prevention: systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA. 2007 Feb 28;297(8):842-857.

REFN6 Druesne-Pecollo N, Latino-Martel P, et al. Beta-carotene supplementation and cancer risk: a systematic review and metaanalysis of randomized controlled trials. Int J Cancer. 2010 Jul 1;127(1):172-184.

REFN7 Bjelakovic G, Nikolova D, et al. Meta-regression analyses, meta-analyses, and trial sequential analyses of the effects of supplementation with beta-carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin E singly or in different combinations on all-cause mortality: do we have evidence for lack of harm? PLoS One. 2013 Sep 6;8(9):e74558.

REFO Sunburn

REFO1 Köpcke W, Krutmann J. Protection from sunburn with beta-Carotene--a meta-analysis. Photochem Photobiol. 2008 Mar-Apr;84(2):284-8. Epub 2007 Dec 15. PubMed PMID: 18086246.

REFP Thyroid Cancer

REFP1 Zhang LR, Sawka AM, et al. Vitamin and mineral supplements and thyroid cancer: a systematic review. Eur J Cancer Prev. 2013 Mar;22(2):158-168.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO NAT Review Board Eric Hurwitz, DC
  • Review Date: 07/2019
  • Update Date: 09/09/2019