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Vitamins (VYE-ta-mins) are compounds that you must have for growth and health. They are needed in small amounts only and are usually available in the foods that you eat. Beta-carotene ( bay-ta-KARE-oh-teen) is converted in the body to vitamin A, which is necessary for healthy eyes and skin.
A lack of vitamin A may cause a rare condition called night blindness (problems seeing in the dark). It may also cause dry eyes, eye infections, skin problems, and slowed growth. Your health care professional may treat these problems by prescribing either beta-carotene, which your body can change into vitamin A, or vitamin A for you.
Some conditions may increase your need for vitamin A. These include:
Increased need for vitamin A should be determined by your health care professional.
Claims that beta-carotene is effective as a sunscreen have not been proven. Although beta-carotene supplements are being studied for their ability to reduce the risk of certain types of cancer and possibly heart disease, there is not enough information to show that this is effective.
Beta-carotene may be used to treat other conditions as determined by your doctor.
Beta-carotene is available without a prescription in the following dosage forms:
Importance of Diet
For good health, it is important that you eat a balanced and varied diet. Follow carefully any diet program your health care professional may recommend. For your specific dietary vitamin and/or mineral needs, ask your health care professional for a list of appropriate foods. If you think that you are not getting enough vitamins and/or minerals in your diet, you may choose to take a dietary supplement.It is documented that people who consume diets high in fruits and vegetables have a reduced risk of heart disease and certain cancers. Fruits and vegetables are rich in beta-carotene and other nutrients that may be beneficial.
Beta-carotene is found in carrots; dark-green leafy vegetables, such as spinach and green leaf lettuce; sweet potatoes; broccoli; cantaloupe; and winter squash. The body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A. Ordinary cooking does not destroy beta-carotene.
Vitamins alone will not take the place of a good diet and will not provide energy. Your body needs other substances found in food, such as protein, minerals, carbohydrates, and fat. Vitamins themselves often cannot work without the presence of other foods. For example, some fat is needed so that beta-carotene can be absorbed into the body.
Before Using This Medicine
If you are taking this dietary supplement without a prescription, carefully read and follow any precautions on the label. For beta-carotene, the following should be considered:
Allergies- Tell your health care professional if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to beta-carotene. Also tell your health care professional if you are allergic to any other substances, such as foods, preservatives, or dyes.
Pregnancy- It is especially important that you are receiving enough vitamins when you become pregnant and that you continue to receive the right amount of vitamins throughout your pregnancy. The healthy growth and development of the fetus depend on a steady supply of nutrients from the mother.
Beta-carotene has not been studied in pregnant women. However, no problems with fertility or pregnancy have been reported in women taking up to 30 milligrams (mg) of beta-carotene a day. The effects of taking more than 30 mg a day are not known.
Breast-feeding- It is especially important that you receive the right amounts of vitamins so that your baby will also get the vitamins needed to grow properly. However, taking large amounts of a dietary supplement while breast-feeding may be harmful to the mother and/or baby and should be avoided.
Children- Problems in children have not been documented with intake of normal daily recommended amounts.
Older adults- Problems in older adults have not been documented with intake of normal daily recommended amounts.
Other medicines- Medicines or other dietary supplements
Although certain medicines or dietary supplements should not be used together at all, in other cases they may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your health care professional may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. Tell your health care professional if you are taking any other dietary supplement or any prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicine.
Other medical problems- The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of beta-carotene. Make sure you tell your health care professional if you have any other medical problems, especially:
Proper Use of This Medicine
For use as a dietary supplement:
If you have high blood levels of vitamin A, your body will convert less beta-carotene to vitamin A.
If you miss taking a vitamin for one or more days there is no cause for concern, since it takes some time for your body to become seriously low in vitamins. However, if your health care professional has recommended that you take this vitamin, try to remember to take it as directed every day.
To store this dietary supplement:
Precautions While Using This Medicine
Use of beta-carotene has been associated with an increased risk of lung cancer in people who smoke or who have been exposed to asbestos. One study of 29,000 male smokers found an 18% increase in lung cancer in the group receiving 20 mg of beta-carotene a day for 5 to 8 years. Another study of 18,000 people found 28% more lung cancers in people with a history of smoking and/or asbestos exposure. These people took 30 mg of beta-carotene in addition to 25,000 Units of retinol (a form of vitamin A) a day for 4 years. However, one study of 22,000 male physicians, some of them smokers or former smokers, found no increase in lung cancer. These people took 50 mg of beta-carotene every other day for 12 years. If you smoke or have a history of smoking or asbestos exposure, you should not take large amounts of beta-carotene supplements for long periods of time. However, foods that are rich in beta-carotene are considered safe and appear to lower the risk of some types of cancer and possibly heart disease.
Side Effects of This Medicine
Side Effects of This Dietary Supplement
Along with its needed effects, a dietary supplement may cause some unwanted effects. The following side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the dietary supplement. However, check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome:
Other side effects not listed above may also occur in some individuals. If you notice any other effects, check with your health care professional.
Once a product has been approved for marketing for a certain use, experience may show that it is also useful for other medical problems. Although this use is not included in product labeling, beta-carotene is used in certain patients with the following medical conditions:
Beta-carotene has not been reported to cause problems in nursing babies.
This medicine has been tested in children and, in effective doses, has not been shown to cause different side effects or problems in children than it does in adults.
Many medicines have not been studied specifically in older people. Therefore, it may not be known whether they work exactly the same way they do in younger adults. Although there is no specific information comparing use of beta-carotene in the elderly with use in other age groups, it is not expected to cause different side effects or problems in older people than it does in younger adults.
The dose of beta-carotene will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of beta-carotene. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.
If you miss a dose of this medicine, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not double doses.
Other than the above information, there is no additional information relating to proper use, precautions, or side effects for these uses.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT