What are the symptoms of a beta-carotene overdose?

The most common effect of a beta-carotene overdose is orange or yellow discoloration of the skin. This coloration is usually more concentrated on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, although it has also been known to develop on the face. Diarrhea, uncharacteristic bruising or bleeding, and dizziness are other reported effects of beta-carotene overdose.

In general, a beta-carotene overdose is not considered serious if it is treated right away. The effects are generally easy to treat. In most cases, an overdose can be treated by discontinuing use of the supplement. It is also possible to treat side effects by lowering the dose.

To avoid beta-carotene overdose, it is recommended to only use the supplement temporarily to treat specific conditions. General use for long periods of time can put an individual at higher risk of side effects. Current or past regular use of cigarettes and excessive consumption of multivitamins may increase the risk of an adverse reaction. Previous exposure to asbestos can also make taking the supplement problematic.

There are some medications and supplements that can lose their effectiveness when taken with beta-carotene supplements. Cholesterol-lowering medications may be less effective if taken in combination with the supplement and vitamin C, vitamin E, and selenium. This includes any of the drugs in the class known as statins. Taking this combination of vitamins with niacin can also reduce its effectiveness.

Several organizations, such as the World Institute for Cancer Research, the World Health Organization, and the American Cancer Society, recommend getting beta-carotene from fresh, whole foods. This is mainly because there has been little evidence to support the safety of obtaining this or any other antioxidant from supplements. Historically, no condition has been determined to require beta-carotene supplementation.

There are also some substances that impede the effectiveness of beta-carotene supplements. Excessive alcohol consumption can decrease the level of the substance in the body. It can also increase the amount of retinol, which is thought to have a connection to increased cancer risk. Fat substitute products may also reduce the effectiveness of beta-carotene supplements.

Beta-carotene is one of many pigments that provide a significant amount of vitamin A. Some of the foods it can be found in include whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. In food or as a supplement, it is used to treat symptoms of a wide range of conditions, including asthma, epilepsy, and Alzheimer's disease.

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