Tags: beta | carotene | risks

Diets High in Beta-carotene Risky

Thursday, 03 May 2012 12:09 PM

When it comes to beta-carotene, it’s possible to get too much of a good thing, a new study finds.
Ohio State University scientists have identified potential health hazards associated with diets high in beta-carotene, according to research published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.
The antioxidant, which gives foods such as carrots and sweet potatoes their color, is an essential nutrient that converts to vitamin A in the body and boosts health by activating hundreds of genes. But OSU researchers found that certain molecules that derive from beta-carotene actually block some actions of vitamin A, which is critical to human vision, bone and skin health, metabolism and immune function. As a result, consuming a large amount of it can counter-act vitamin A’s health benefits.
The findings might explain why a recent decades-old clinical trial found more people who were heavily supplemented with beta-carotene developed lung cancer than those who took none. The trial was ended early because of that unexpected outcome.
But the scientists aren't recommending against eating foods high in beta-carotene.
"We determined that these compounds are in foods, they're present under normal circumstances, and they're pretty routinely found in blood in humans, and therefore they may represent a dark side of beta-carotene," said lead researcher Earl Harrison. "These materials definitely have anti-vitamin-A properties, and they could basically disrupt or at least affect the whole body metabolism and action of vitamin A. But we have to study them further to know for sure."
The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center.

© HealthDay

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High levels of the antioxidant may, in fact, reduce the action of beneficial vitamin A, study suggests.
Thursday, 03 May 2012 12:09 PM
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