Beta Carotene

By: Taylor

What is Beta Carotene?

In simple terms, Beta Carotene is an inactive form and a precursor to Vitamin A. It is a reddish orange pigment usually found in plants and fruits. It is commonly used to treat several disorders and is often prescribed to women before menopause to reduce the chance of breast cancer.

Functions of Beta Carotene

It is considered a provitamin because it can be converted into Vitamin A.
Beta Carotene helps promote healthy bone growth and development in children. As a result it is also prescribed to patients suffering bone diseases at later stages.
Beta Carotene can help reduce or heal disorders related to the reproductive system.
It is an essential drug for enhancing or improving vision. Several children are administered Beta Carotene to heal eye related problems and diseases in their growing years.
Since it is an anti-oxidant it helps strengthen the immune system.
It actively helps patients suffering from cystic fibrosis and arthritis.
It is a requirement for normal body growth and is used to repair body tissues.
Beta Carotene also helps improve the quality of skin.
It protects the mucous membranes of the mouth, nose and throat thereby reducing occurrence of viruses and similar diseases.
It reduces the risk of lung cancer and oral cancer.
Sources of Beta Carotene

Fruits and Vegetables: Carrots, Pumpkin, Sweet Potato, Spinach, Collards, Tomatoes, Sweet Broccoli, Lettuce. Most green and leafy vegetables contain a certain amount of Beta Carotene.

Beta Carotene Deficiency

Beta Carotene deficiency may not affect a personís short term health however the long term health complications are several. Continuous deficiency may result in severe heart diseases, various cancers, and severe damage from free radicals. Overall, patients who suffer from Beta Carotene deficiency will have immune system related problems and may fall ill more often. Dry skin, night blindness, vision problems etc are also associated with Beta Carotene deficiency. However it is important to note that not many people suffer from Beta Carotene deficiency because it is abundantly found in most fruits and vegetables that are consumed.

Recommended Dietary Allowance of Beta Carotene

In most cases a dietary allowance of 4.8 mg is advised to adults across the world. However, in case patients are known to be heavy smokers it is safer to have lower quantities of the drug.

Tips and Warnings

By and large, Beta Carotene is considered to be safe. However constant use may result in diarrhea and other stomach related ailments.
Some patients may suffer from a yellow tinge on their hands and feet which will disappear over time.
If used frequently for long periods of time it may result in heart disease.
Long term use may also result in lung cancer in older patients.
As a precaution, the drug should be administered for short periods of time only.
It is better to use natural sources for your Beta Carotene intake, increase your intake of fruits and vegetables instead of relying on medication.
Patients who abuse alcohol and consume Beta Carotene may eventually suffer from alcoholic liver diseases.

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