Class: Vitamin A
ATC Class: A11HA
VA Class: VT050
Molecular Formula: C40H56
CAS Number: 7235-40-7
Medically reviewed on September 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 2018, 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.
100. Diaz MN, Frei B, Vita JA et al. Antioxidants and atherosclerotic heart disease. N Engl J Med. 1997; 337:408-16. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9241131?dopt=AbstractPlus
101. Stephens N. Anti-oxidant therapy for ischemic heart disease: where do we stand? Lancet. 1997; 349:1710-1.
102. Rowe PM. Beta-carotene takes a collective beating. Lancet. 1996; 347:249. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8551889?dopt=AbstractPlus
103. Greenberg ER, Baron JA, Karagas MR et al. Mortality associated with low plasma concentration of beta carotene and the effect of oral supplementation. JAMA. 1996; 275:699-703. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8594267?dopt=AbstractPlus
104. Rimm EB, Stampfer MJ, Ascherio A et al. Vitamin E consumption and the risk of coronary heart disease in men. N Engl J Med. 1993; 328:1450-6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8479464?dopt=AbstractPlus
105. Rapola JM, Virtamo J, Haukka JK et al. Effect of vitamin E and beta carotene on the incidence of angina pectoris: a randomized, double-blind, controlled trial. JAMA. 1996; 275:693-8. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8594266?dopt=AbstractPlus
106. Omenn GS, Goodman GE, Thornquist MD et al. Effects of a combination of beta carotene and vitamin A on lung cancer and cardiovascular disease. N Engl J Med. 1996; 334:1150-5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8602180?dopt=AbstractPlus
107. Hennekens CH, Buring JE, Manson JE et al. Lack of effect of long-term supplementation with beta carotene on the incidence of malignant neoplasms and cardiovascular disease. N Engl J Med. 1996; 334:1145-6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8602179?dopt=AbstractPlus
108. Jha P, Flather M, Lonn E et al. The antioxidant vitamins and cardiovascular disease: a critical review of epidemiologic and clinical trial data. Ann Intern Med. 1995; 123:860-72. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7486470?dopt=AbstractPlus
109. Reaven PD, Khouw A, Beltz WF et al. Effect of dietary antioxidant combinations in humans: protection of LDL by vitamin E but not by beta-carotene. Arterioscler Thromb. 1993; 13:590-600. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8466894?dopt=AbstractPlus
110. Jialal I, Norkus EP, Cristol L et al. β-Carotene inhibits the oxidative modification of low-density lipoprotein. Biochim Biophys Acta. 1991; 1086:134-8. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1954240?dopt=AbstractPlus
111. Greenberg ER, Sporn MB. Antioxidant vitamins, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. N Engl J Med. 1996; 334:1189-90. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8602188?dopt=AbstractPlus
112. National Research Council, Committee on Diet and Health, Food and Nutrition Board, Commission on Life Sciences. Diet and health: implications for reducing chronic diseases. Washington, DC: National Academy of Press; 1989.
113. The Alpha-Tocopherol, Beta Carotene Cancer Prevention Study Group. The effect of vitamin E and beta carotene on the incidence of lung cancer and other cancers in male smokers. N Engl J Med. 1994; 330:1029-35. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8127329?dopt=AbstractPlus
114. Blot WJ, Li JY, Taylor PR et al. Nutrition intervention trials in China: supplementation with specific vitamin/mineral combinations, cancer incidence, and disease-specific mortality in the general population. J Natl Cancer Inst. 1993; 85:1483-92. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8360931?dopt=AbstractPlus
115. Blot WJ, Li JY, Taylor PR. Lung cancer and vitamin supplementation. N Engl J Med. 1994; 331:614. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8047094?dopt=AbstractPlus
116. Greenberg ER, Baron JA, Tosteson TR et al for the Polyp Prevention Study Group. A clinical trial of antioxidant vitamins to prevent colorectal adenoma. N Engl J Med. 1994; 331:141-7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8008027?dopt=AbstractPlus
117. Greenberg ER, Baron JA, Stukel TA et al for the Skin Cancer Prevention Study Group. A clinical trial of beta carotene to prevent basal-cell and squamous-cell cancers of the skin. N Engl J Med. 1996; 323:789-95.
119. Roche Laboratories Inc. Xenical (orlistat) capsules prescribing information. Nutley, NJ; 1999 April.
120. Sjöström L, Rissanen A, Andersen T et al. Randomized placebo-controlled trial of orlistat for weight loss and prevention of weight regain in obese patients. Lancet. 1998; 352:167-72. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9683204?dopt=AbstractPlus
121. Davidson MH, Hauptman J, DiGirolamo M et al. Weight control and risk factor reduction in obese subjects treated for 2 years with orlistat. JAMA. 1999; 281:235-42. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9918478?dopt=AbstractPlus
122. Hollander PA, Elbein SC, Hirsch IB et al. Role of orlistat in the treatment of obese patients with type 2 diabetes: a 1-year randomized double-blind study. Diabetes Care. 1998; 21:1288-94. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9702435?dopt=AbstractPlus
123. Melia AT, Koss-Twardy SG, Zhi J. The effect of orlistat, an inhibitor of dietary fat absorption, on the absorption of vitamins A and E in healthy volunteers. J Clin Pharmacol. 1996; 36:647-53. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8844448?dopt=AbstractPlus
124. Zhi J, Melia AT, Koss-Twardy SG et al. The effect of orlistat, an inhibitor of dietary fat absorption, on the pharmacokinetics of β-carotene in healthy volunteers. J Clin Pharmacol. 1996; 36:152-9. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8852391?dopt=AbstractPlus
125. Roche Laboratories Inc. Xenical (orlistat) capsules patient information. Nutley, NJ; 1999 April.
126. James WP, Avenell A, Broom J et al. A one-year trial to assess the value of orlistat in the management of obesity. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 1997; 21(Suppl 3):S24-30. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9225173?dopt=AbstractPlus http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/picrender.fcgi?tool=pmcentrez&artid=3756588&blobtype=pdf
127. Roche Laboratories Inc, Nutley, NJ: Personal communication on Orlistat 56:40.
128. Age-Related Eye Disease Study Research Group. A randomized, placebo-controlled, clinical trial of high-dose supplementation with vitamins C and E, beta carotene, and zinc for age-related macular degeneration and vision loss. Arch Ophthalmol. 2001; 119:1417-36. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11594942?dopt=AbstractPlus
129. Omenn GS, Goodman GE, Thornquist MD et al. Effects of a combination of beta carotene and vitamin A on lung cancer and cardiovascular disease. N Engl J Med. 1996; 334:1150-5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8602180?dopt=AbstractPlus
130. Jampol LM. Antioxidants, zinc, and age-related macular degeneration. Arch Opthalmol. 2001; 119-1533-4. Editorial.
a. AHFS Drug Information 2007. McEvoy GK, ed. Beta carotene. Bethesda, MD: American Society of Health-System Pharmacists; 2007: 3618-9.
b. Briggs GG, Freeman RK, Yaffe SJ. Drugs in pregnancy and lactation, 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2005:154.
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.