What is beta-carotene?
Beta-carotene is one of the micro-nutrients that makes up what we call vitamin A.
That's right – vitamin A isn't actually a single vitamin. It's made up of over a dozen compounds, that are broken into two categories: retinoids and carotenoids.
Beta-carotene is one of the most well-researched carotenoids.
It's the pigment that gives carrots their orange color.
It's a pro-drug for vitamin A (retinol) and beta-carotene in itself doesn't actually demonstrate that many benefits for the human body.
However, vitamin A does – and beta-carotene is the most efficient way for the body to create its own vitamin A.
Beta-carotene is part of the family known as carotenoids. Carotenoids are easily absorbed by the body and can create healthy concentrations of vitamin A.
The other class of nutrients that make up vitamin A are retinoids. These aren't easily metabolized by the body without the ideal nutritional balance.
For vegetarians or those who eat an extremely balanced and varied diet, the body can turn some carotenoids into retinoids.
How does beta carotene benefit our health?
Beta-carotene does a lot more for our bodies than just maintain the health of our eyes. These can all be attributed to this source.
- Beta-carotene is shown to slow cognitive decline.
- Beta-carotene can help people maintain their lung strength.
- Beta-carotene is a potent antioxidant. Antioxidants reduce the damage from oxidative stress which can cause cancer and other degenerative diseases.
- People who consume beta-carotene rich fruits or vegetables are shown to have a lower risk of developing cancer.
- Antioxidants like beta-carotene help the immune system grow stronger.
- Beta-carotene reduces the risk of heart disease.
- Beta-carotene reduces the symptoms of asthma.
- Beta-carotene reduces high blood pressure and the related symptoms.
Beta-carotene is only a pro-drug to vitamin A. For the full scope of benefits attributed to beta-carotene and vitamin A, you must eat a well-balanced diet with a full assortment of vitamins and minerals.
5 Best Beta Carotene Supplements
1. Solgar Oceanic Beta Carotene
- Solgar's Oceanic Beta-Carotene supplement contains other natural carotenoids, including zeaxanthin, cryptoxanthin, and lutein.
- There is no salt, starches or sugars included in the product.
- Contains 25,000 IU of beta-carotene.
Personal review: This is a great supplement for those hoping to get a wide variety of carotenoids in a single supplement for a very reasonable price.
2. Bulk Supplements Pure Beta Carotene
- This product is a pure powder containing nothing but beta-carotene, one of the constituents of vitamin A.
- it's been tested in laboratories to verify its purity.
- Comes in a factory sealed pouch.
- Contains no additives or fake coloring.
One customer had an allergic reaction and believes there is extra ingredients not listed in the product description.
Personal review: This is a great supplement for those who like to make their own dosage schedule. This is much easier than using a pre-weighed capsule or pill.
3. Lutein Vision
- Lutein vision contains a bunch of different compounds for maximum maintenance of eye health.
- Contains bilberry, which reduces inflammation in the retina.
- Contains taurine, which s an amino acid found in the eye.
- Contains lutein which is another crucial antioxidant for helping your eyes.
Some claim that immediately after starting this supplement, their burning or itching eyes ceased to be a problem.
They have helped people drive better at night. Some say that daily vision isn't much enhanced, but night vision is. Others are unsure as to whether the supplement will do anything.
Personal review: Lutein Vision is a great product for overall eye health. It contains some of the most important nutrients responsible for maintaining vision and can, at the very least, stop your eyesight from deteriorating.
4. Activa Naturals
- Activa Naturals contains a lot of different nutrients, including beta-carotene, lutein, bilberry, and quercetin.
- Activa is a trusted brand that makes many nutritional supplements.
- There are no fillers, no chemical additives or artificial coloring or flavoring.
- This product comes with a 60-day warranty.
Some customers claim that this product eliminated the 'floaters' that obstructed their eyesight.
Some questions about quality control, having found a hair in one of their capsules. Others say the ingredients, while proclaimed to be great, did nothing for them.
Personal review: This product has a lot of health supplements in it that don't just affect the human eye. This is a good product with a lot of antioxidants that can help all sorts of different areas in your body.
5. One Elevated
- Contains lutein, zeaxanthin, Ginkgo biloba and lycopene in addition to beta-carotene.
- One of the most complex carotenoid mixtures on the market.
- Specialized for helping to ease 'computer vision' and protecting eyes from blue light and ultraviolet damage.
Some customers claim that this product makes the most difference out of any product. It helps dry eyes and helps eliminate computer-related eye damage.
Personal review: The carotenoid content of this product is quite impressive. It has a great variation of carotenoids, and these nutrients work together to combat health. For the price, this product has great value.
Do we really need beta-carotene supplements?
Beta-carotene supplements are only necessary for people who are deficient in the nutrient. This means that people who don't consume a regular amount of fruits and vegetables.
If you follow the dietary regulations set by the government, then you shouldn't need to supplement with anything.
A varied, natural diet high in different types of fruits and vegetables is the best way to efficiently reach the recommended amounts of any vitamin or nutrient.
Absorbing vitamins and nutrients with the natural fiber that comes in fruits & vegetables will make the body make better use.
The side effects of beta-carotene
While beta-carotene has a whole host of awesome benefits for the body, there are some side effects you should be wary of.
1. Beta-carotene can interact with antibiotics and other medicines.
2. Beta-carotene particularly interacts with alcohol, antibiotics, and antivirals.
3. Beta-carotene can have digestive effects. It can make you burp more, it can cause constipation or diarrhea.
4. Beta-carotene can cause dizziness and headaches.
5. Beta-carotene can cause worsening of cholesterol levels, which can interact with medication that lowers cholesterol.
6. Beta carotene can increase the risk of bleeding and bruising. For those with hemophilia should be careful consuming too much beta-carotene.
Beta-carotene allergies can be very serious. People who are allergic to carrots might want to be wary of consuming other fruits and vegetables that contain high amounts of vitamin A.
People with allergies to carrots can display the following symptoms:
• Swelling of the mouth and lips.
• Typical allergy responses caused by histamine release – hives, welts, etc. on the skin.
• Coughing, sore throat, provoked asthma symptoms also caused by histamine release.
• Runny nose and watery eyes.
• In serious cases, anaphylaxis can occur. The throat might swell up preventing breathing which can cause someone to suffocate.
• Redness and itchy skin emerging soon after consuming carrots or beta-carotene containing products.
For mild allergies to beta-carotene, one can hope that taking an antihistamine like Benadryl will reduce the symptoms.
The average allergy – something like hay fever – is easily remedied by taking anti-histamines. This reduces symptoms like coughing, runny nose, and watery eyes.
Beta-carotene can be a very powerful supplement for the health.
It can do a vast number of things – it can heal your eyes, help your digestive system function better, improve the function of your lungs, and many other things.
Unfortunately, these benefits don't stack if you take huge amounts of beta-carotene.
In fact, quite the contrary can happen: taking too much of the supplement can be pretty dangerous and be destructive to your body.
Excess intake of beta-carotene can cause a number of harsh side effects – strangely, on the same areas of your body that it can help to heal and strengthen.
Excess beta-carotene can damage your digestive system, cause asthma, and even damage your eyes.
When taking beta-carotene, its best to take a physician-regulated dosage schedule. You don't want to take too much or too little.
Check with your doctor before embarking on a beta-carotene supplementation regimen.
Do you know how much beta-carotene you get in your diet? Don't forget to leave your feedback.