Class: Vitamin A
ATC Class: A11HA
VA Class: VT050
Molecular Formula: C40H56
CAS Number: 7235-40-7
Medically reviewed on Sep 18, 2017
Uses for Beta Carotene
Increases the development time for minimal erythema in EPP patients exposed to artificial light and sunlight.a
Other Photosensitivity Reactions
Beta carotene supplementation has not been shown to reduce the risk for developing lung or other cancers.e
Beta Carotene Dosage and Administration
Patients should not increase time of exposure to the sun until carotenodermia is evident (e.g., yellowness of palms and soles).a f When carotenodermia occurs, cautiously and gradually increase exposure to the sun.a f
1 IU beta carotene is equivalent to 0.6 mcg beta carotene.g
No special populations dosage recommendations at this time.f
Cautions for Beta Carotene
Some preparations of beta carotene (Lumitene) contain peanut oil.f
Excessive beta carotene ingestion may cause reversible carotenodermia (yellowish skin discoloration); carotenodermia usually disappears when beta carotene is reduced or discontinued.f
Common Adverse Effects
Interactions for Beta Carotene
May decrease GI absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (e.g., beta carotene)119
Beta Carotene Pharmacokinetics
Supplemental forms of beta carotene have markedly greater bioavailability than dietary beta carotene.e
Only 20–30% of supplemental beta carotene is absorbed unchanged.a
Photosensitivity protecting action occurs after at least 2–4 weeks and usually coincides with the development of carotenodermia.a
Decreased tolerance to light usually is evident within 1–2 weeks after discontinuing beta carotene therapy.a
Blood carotene concentrations reach a maximum and carotenodermia usually develops about 4–6 weeks after beginning beta carotene therapy.a
Absorption is greatly decreased in patients with steatorrhea and chronic diarrhea.a
Tight, light-resistant containers.a
No effect on the basic biochemical abnormality of EPP (i.e., erythrocyte, plasma, and stool concentrations of protoporphyrins are not altered by the drug).a
Advice to Patients
Advise EPP patients that the protective effect of beta carotene is not total and that they may still develop considerable burning and edema after sufficient exposure to sunlight.a f Explain that each patient must establish his own time limit of exposure to sunlight.a f
Importance of women informing clinicians if they are or plan to become pregnant or plan to breast-feed.f
Importance of informing clinicians of existing or contemplated concomitant therapy, including prescription and OTC drugs, as well as any concomitant illnesses.f
Importance of informing patients of other important precautionary information.f (See Cautions.)
Excipients in commercially available drug preparations may have clinically important effects in some individuals; consult specific product labeling for details.
Please refer to the ASHP Drug Shortages Resource Center for information on shortages of one or more of these preparations.
* available from one or more manufacturer, distributor, and/or repackager by generic (nonproprietary) name
Lumitene (with peanut oil and methyl and propyl parabens)
AHFS DI Essentials™. © Copyright 2019, Selected Revisions September 18, 2017. American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc., 4500 East-West Highway, Suite 900, Bethesda, Maryland 20814.
Only references cited for selected revisions after 1984 are available electronically.
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c. Food and Drug Administration. Food Labeling: Health Claims; Antioxidant Vitamin A and Beta-Carotene and the Risk in Adults of Atherosclerosis, Coronary Heart Disease, and Certain Cancers. Final rule. [21 CFR Part 101] Fed Regist. 1998; 63:34092-97.
d. Department of Health and Human Services, Food and Drug Administration. Part 101---Food Labeling. Subpart C---Specific Nutrition Labeling Requirement and Guidelines. Sec 101.36---Nutrition Labeling of dietary supplements. (21 CFR (4-1-03 Ed.)). 2003:79-91.
e. Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary reference intakes for vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium and carotenoids. A report of the Panel on Dietary Antioxidants and Related Compounds. Washington DC, National Academy Press: 2000;25-72.
f. Tishcon Corp. Lumitene (beta carotene) capsules prescribing information. Westbury, NY; Undated.
g. World Health Organization. WHO report on vitamin and mineral requirements in human nutrition. Vitamin A. Geneva; WHO. 2004:17–44.
h. Now Natural Foods. Beta Carotene softgels (25,000 IU as pro-Vitamin A 15 mg, Vitamin E 5 IU and Lecithin 10 mg) product information. Bloomingdale, IL; Undated.