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Beta-Carotene

Beta-Carotene

Uses

What Are Star Ratings?

Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.

For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.

3 Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.

2 Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.

1 Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.

This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:

Used for Why
3 Stars
Leukoplakia
150,000 IU twice per week
Beta-carotene, the most widely used supplement in the treatment of leukoplakia, has been shown in studies to increase remission rate.

Caution: Synthetic beta-carotene has been linked to increased risk of lung cancer in smokers. Until more is known, smokers should avoid all beta-carotene supplements.

Beta-carotene is the most widely used supplement in the treatment of leukoplakia. In a clinical trial of betel nut chewers with leukoplakia, supplementation with 150,000 IU of beta-carotene twice per week for six months significantly increased the remission rate compared with placebo (14.8% vs. 3.0%).1 The effectiveness of beta-carotene for treating leukoplakia was also confirmed in a double-blind trial that used 100,000 IU per day for six months.2 In one trial, supplementation with 33, 333 IU of beta-carotene per day, alone or combined with 50 IU of vitamin E , was reported not to reduce the incidence of leukoplakia.3 These results have also been observed in smaller trials.4 , 5

Drug therapy with a synthetic, prescription form of vitamin A (known as Accutane, isotretinoin , and 13-cis retinoic acid) has been reported to be more effective than treatment with 50,000 IU per day of beta-carotene.6 However, because of the potential toxicity of the vitamin A-like drug, it may be preferable to treat leukoplakia with beta-carotene, which is much safer.

Before the research on beta-carotene was published, vitamin A was used to treat leukoplakia.7 One group of researchers reported that vitamin A (28,500 IU per day) was more effective than beta-carotene in treating people with leukoplakia.8 Another trial found that the combination of 150,000 IU per week of beta-carotene plus 100,000 IU per week of vitamin A led to a significant increase in remission time compared to beta carotene alone in betel nut chewers.9 Women who are or who could become pregnant should not take 100,000 IU of vitamin A per week without medical supervision.

3 Stars
Lung Cancer
Eat more carrots
Beta-carotene supplementation appears to reduce cancer risk in nonsmokers. Smokers should avoid beta-carotene supplements, including the amounts found in multivitamins.

In double-blind trials, synthetic beta-carotene supplementation has led to an increased risk of lung cancer in smokers,10 , 11 though not in groups consisting primarily of nonsmokers.12 Smokers should avoid synthetic beta-carotene supplements, including the relatively small amounts found in many multivitamins .

The researchers who conducted the lung cancer trials have been criticized for not having used the natural form of beta-carotene.13 Preliminary evidence suggests that natural beta-carotene supplementation results in better antioxidant activity14 and anticancer activity in humans15 than does supplementation with synthetic beta-carotene. Nonetheless, much less is known about natural beta-carotene and questions remain about its potential efficacy.16 The effect of natural beta-carotene supplementation on lung cancer risk has yet to be studied.

The strong association between increased intake of beta-carotene from food and a reduced risk of lung cancer17 does not necessarily mean that supplementation with natural beta-carotene supplements would reduce the risk of lung cancer. Dietary beta-carotene may be a marker for diets high in certain fruits and vegetables that contain other anticancer substances that may be responsible for the protective effects. Until more is known, some doctors advise smokers to avoid all forms of beta-carotene supplementation—even natural beta-carotene.

3 Stars
Night Blindness
If deficient: 10,000 to 25,000 IU daily
Night blindness may be an early sign of vitamin A deficiency. Supplementing with beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A, help correct such a deficiency and improve night blindness.

Caution: Synthetic beta-carotene has been linked to increased risk of lung cancer in smokers. Until more is known, smokers should avoid all beta-carotene supplements.

Night blindness may be an early sign of vitamin A deficiency.18 , 19 Such a deficiency may result from diets low in animal foods (the main source of vitamin A), such as eggs, dairy products, organ meats, and some fish. Low intake of fruits and vegetables containing beta-carotene , which the body converts into vitamin A, may also contribute to a vitamin A deficiency. Doctors often recommend 10,000 to 25,000 IU of vitamin A per day to correct a deficiency. Beta-carotene is less effective at correcting vitamin A deficiency than is vitamin A itself, because it is not absorbed as well and is only slowly converted by the body into vitamin A.

3 Stars
Photosensitivity
100,000 to 300,000 IU daily under medical supervision
Beta-carotene is able to protect against free-radical damage caused by ultraviolet light and may help increase tolerance to sunlight.

Caution: Synthetic beta-carotene has been linked to increased risk of lung cancer in smokers. Until more is known, smokers should avoid all beta-carotene supplements.

Years ago, researchers theorized that beta-carotene in skin might help protect against sensitivity to ultraviolet light from the sun. Large amounts of beta-carotene (up to 300,000 IU per day for at least several months) have allowed people with photosensitivity to stay out in the sun several times longer than they otherwise could tolerate.20 , 21 , 22 The protective effect appears to result from beta-carotene’s ability to protect against free-radical damage caused by sunlight.23

2 Stars
Asthma
64 mg a day of natural supplement
Some researchers have suggested that exercise-related asthma attacks might be caused by free-radical damage caused by the exercise. Supplementing with beta-carotene, an antioxidant, protects against free-radical damage and may prevent these attacks.

Caution: Synthetic beta-carotene has been linked to increased risk of lung cancer in smokers. Until more is known, smokers should avoid all beta-carotene supplements.

Some researchers have suggested that asthma attacks triggered by exercise might be caused by free-radical damage caused by the exercise. Beta-carotene is an antioxidant that protects against free-radical damage. Israeli researchers reported that 64 mg per day of natural beta-carotene for one week in a double blind trial protected over half of a group of asthmatics who experienced attacks as a result of exercise.24 More research is needed to confirm this promising finding.

2 Stars
Immune Function
25,000 to 100,000 IU per day for nonsmokers only
Beta-carotene has been shown to increase immune cell numbers and activity. It has also been shown to enhance cancer-fighting immune functions in healthy people.

Caution: Synthetic beta-carotene has been linked to increased risk of lung cancer in smokers. Until more is known, smokers should avoid all beta-carotene supplements.

Most,25 , 26 but not all,27 double-blind studies have shown that elderly people have better immune function and reduced infection rates when taking a multiple vitamin-mineral formula. In one double-blind trial, supplements of 100 mcg per day of selenium and 20 mg per day of zinc , with or without additional vitamin C , vitamin E , and beta-carotene , reduced infections in elderly people, though vitamins without minerals had no effect.28 Burn victims have also experienced fewer infections after receiving trace mineral supplements in double-blind research.29 These studies suggest that trace minerals may be the most important micronutrients for enhancing immunity and preventing infections in the elderly.

Beta-carotene and other carotenoids have increased immune cell numbers and activity in animal and human research, an effect that appears to be separate from their role as precursors to vitamin A.30 , 31 Placebo-controlled research has shown positive benefits of beta-carotene supplements in increasing numbers of some white blood cells and enhancing cancer-fighting immune functions in healthy people at 25,000–100,000 IU per day.32 , 33

In double-blind trials in the elderly, supplementation with 40,000–150,000 IU per day of beta-carotene has increased natural killer (NK) cell activity,34 but not several other measures of immunity.35

Controlled research has found that 50,000 IU per day of beta-carotene boosted immunity in people with colon cancer but in not those with precancerous conditions in the colon.36 Beta-carotene has also prevented immune suppression from ultraviolet light exposure.37 Effects on immunodefiency in HIV -positive people have been inconsistent using beta-carotene.38 , 39

2 Stars
Pancreatic Insufficiency
9,000 IU daily
Taking antioxidant supplements, such as beta-carotene, may lessen pain and prevent recurrences of pancreatitis.

Caution: Synthetic beta-carotene has been linked to increased risk of lung cancer in smokers. Until more is known, smokers should avoid all beta-carotene supplements.

Free radical damage has been linked to pancreatitis in animal and human studies,40 , 41 , 42 suggesting that antioxidants might be beneficial for this disease. One controlled study found that chronic pancreatitis patients consumed diets significantly lower in several antioxidants due to problems such as appetite loss and abdominal symptoms.43 Several controlled studies found lower blood levels of antioxidants, such as selenium, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin C, glutathione , and several carotenoids , in patients with both acute and chronic pancreatitis.44 , 45 , 46 , 47 , 48 , 49

There are few controlled trials of antioxidant supplementation to patients with pancreatitis. One small controlled study of acute pancreatitis patients found that sodium selenite at a dose of 500 micrograms (mcg) daily resulted in decreased levels of a marker of free radical activity, and no patient deaths occurred.50 In a small double-blind trial including recurrent acute and chronic pancreatitis patients, supplements providing daily doses of 600 mcg selenium , 9,000 IU beta-carotene , 540 mg vitamin C , 270 IU vitamin E , and 2,000 mg methionine significantly reduced pain, normalized several blood measures of antioxidant levels and free radical activity, and prevented acute recurrences of pancreatitis.51 These researchers later reported that continuing antioxidant treatment in these patients for up to five years or more significantly reduced the total number of days spent in the hospital and resulted in 78% of patients becoming pain-free and 88% returning to work.52 Another double-blind study using similar amounts of selenium, beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, and methionine as those in the study mentioned above reported significant improvements in pain and overall health in patients with chronic pancreatitis.53

2 Stars
Sunburn
6 mg daily of natural beta-carotene during periods of high sun exposure
Supplementing with beta-carotene may help protect the skin from ultraviolet rays and sunburn.

Caution: Synthetic beta-carotene has been linked to increased risk of lung cancer in smokers. Until more is known, smokers should avoid all beta-carotene supplements.

Antioxidants may protect the skin from sunburn due to free radical –producing ultraviolet rays.54 Combinations of 1,000 to 2,000 IU per day of vitamin E and 2,000 to 3,000 mg per day of vitamin C , but neither given alone, have a significant protective effect against ultraviolet rays, according to double-blind studies.55 , 56 , 57

Oral synthetic beta-carotene alone was not found to provide effective protection when given in amounts of 15 mg per day or for only a few weeks’ time in larger amounts of 60 to 90 mg per day, but it has been effective either in very large amounts (180 mg per day) or in smaller amounts (30 mg per day) in combination with topical sunscreen.58 , 59 , 60 , 61 , 62

Natural sources of beta-carotene or other carotenoids have been more consistently shown to protect against sunburn. One controlled study found that taking a supplement of natural carotenoids (almost all of which was beta-carotene) in daily amounts of 30 mg, 60 mg, and 90 mg gave progressively more protection against ultraviolet rays.63 In another controlled study, either 24 mg per day of natural beta-carotene or 24 mg per day of a carotenoid combination of equal amounts beta-carotene, lutein , and lycopene helped protect skin from ultraviolet rays.64 A preliminary study compared synthetic lycopene (10.1 mg per day), a natural tomato extract containing 9.8 mg of lycopene per day plus additional amounts of other carotenoids, and a solubilized tomato drink (designed to increase lycopene absorption) containing 8.2 mg of lycopene plus additional amounts of other carotenoids. After 12 weeks, only the two tomato-based products were shown to give significant protection against burning by ultraviolet light.65

Still other trials have tested combinations of several antioxidants . One preliminary study found that a daily combination of beta-carotene (6 mg), lycopene (6 mg), vitamin E (15 IU), and selenium for seven weeks protected against ultraviolet light.66 However, a double-blind trial of a combination of smaller amounts of several carotenoids , vitamins C and E, selenium, and proanthocyanidins did not find significant UV protection compared with placebo.67 Similarly, in a controlled trial, a combination of selenium, copper , and vitamins was found to be ineffective.68

It should be noted that while protection from sunburn has been demonstrated with several types of orally administered antioxidants , the degree of protection (typically less than an SPF of 2) is much less than that provided by currently available topical sunscreens. On the other hand, these modest effects will provide some added protection to skin areas where sunscreen is also used and will give a small amount of protection to sun-exposed areas where sunscreen is not applied. However, oral protection from sunburn is not instantaneous; maximum effects are not reached until these antioxidants have been used for about eight to ten weeks.69 , 70

1 Star
Age-Related Cognitive Decline
50 mg every other day
In one study, long-term beta-carotene supplementation slowed the loss of cognitive function in middle-aged healthy males.

Caution: Synthetic beta-carotene has been linked to increased risk of lung cancer in smokers. Until more is known, smokers should avoid all beta-carotene supplements.

In a double-blind trial, supplementation with beta-carotene in the amount of 50 mg every other day for 18 years appeared to slow the loss of cognitive function in middle-aged healthy males. Short-term supplementation (one year) was not beneficial.71

1 Star
Alcohol Withdrawal
Refer to label instructions
Though not a treatment for withdrawal, beta-carotene supplementation may be a safe way to correct vitamin A deficiencies common to alcoholics (requires a doctor’s supervision to monitor liver function and avoid damage).

Caution: Synthetic beta-carotene has been linked to increased risk of lung cancer in smokers. Until more is known, smokers should avoid all beta-carotene supplements.

Although the incidence of B-complex deficiencies is known to be high in alcoholics, the incidence of other vitamin deficiencies remains less clear.72 Nonetheless, deficiencies of vitamin A , vitamin D , vitamin E , and vitamin C are seen in many alcoholics. While some reports have suggested it may be safer for alcoholics to supplement with beta-carotene instead of vitamin A,73 potential problems accompany the use of either vitamin A or beta-carotene in correcting the deficiency induced by alcoholism.74 These problems result in part because the combinations of alcohol and vitamin A or alcohol and beta-carotene appear to increase potential damage to the liver. Thus, vitamin A-depleted alcoholics require a doctor’s intervention, including supplementation with vitamin A and beta-carotene accompanied by assessment of liver function. Supplementing with vitamin C, on the other hand, appears to help the body rid itself of alcohol.75 Some doctors recommend 1 to 3 grams per day of vitamin C.

1 Star
Cataracts
Refer to label instructions
People who eat fruits and vegetables rich in beta-carotene have a lower risk of developing cataracts.

Caution: Synthetic beta-carotene has been linked to increased risk of lung cancer in smokers. Until more is known, smokers should avoid all beta-carotene supplements.

People with low blood levels of antioxidants and those who eat few antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables have been reported to be at high risk for cataracts.76 , 77

Some,78 but not all,79 studies have reported that people eating more foods rich in beta-carotene had a lower the risk of developing cataracts. Supplementation with synthetic beta-carotene has not been found to reduce the risk of cataract formation.80 It remains unclear whether natural beta-carotene from food or supplements would protect the eye or whether beta-carotene in food is merely a marker for other protective factors in fruits and vegetables high in beta-carotene.

1 Star
Gastritis
Refer to label instructions
The antioxidant beta-carotene may reduce free radical damage in the stomach, and supplementing with it has led to improvements in people with gastritis in some studies.

Caution: Synthetic beta-carotene has been linked to increased risk of lung cancer in smokers. Until more is known, smokers should avoid all beta-carotene supplements.

The antioxidant beta-carotene may reduce free radical damage in the stomach,81 and eating foods high in beta-carotene has been linked to a decreased risk of developing chronic atrophic gastritis.82 Moreover, people with active gastritis have been reported to have low levels of beta-carotene in their stomachs.83 In a preliminary trial, giving 30,000 IU of beta-carotene per day to people with ulcers or gastritis led to the disappearance of gastric erosions.84 In another study, combining vitamin C and beta-carotene also led to improvement in most people with chronic atrophic gastritis.85

1 Star
Heart Attack
Refer to label instructions
Supplementing with beta-carotene may reduce the likelihood of a heart attack and may improve the outcome for people who have already had a heart attack.

Caution: Synthetic beta-carotene has been linked to increased risk of lung cancer in smokers. Until more is known, smokers should avoid all beta-carotene supplements.

Blood levels of the antioxidant nutrients vitamins A, C, and E, and beta-carotene are reported to be lower in people with a history of heart attack, compared with healthy individuals.86 The number of free radical molecules is also higher, suggesting a need for antioxidants. Streptokinase, a drug therapy commonly used immediately following a heart attack, enhances the need for antioxidants.87

Taking antioxidant supplements may improve the outcome for people who have already had a heart attack. In one double-blind trial, people were given 50,000 IU of vitamin A per day, 1,000 mg of vitamin C per day, 600 IU of vitamin E per day, and approximately 41,500 IU of beta-carotene per day or placebo.88 After 28 days, the infarct size of those receiving antioxidants was significantly smaller than the infarct size of the placebo group.

Low levels of beta-carotene in fatty tissue have been linked to an increased incidence of heart attacks, particularly among smokers.89 One population study found that eating a diet high in beta-carotene is associated with a lower rate of nonfatal heart attacks.90 However, beta-carotene supplementation may not offer the same protection provided by foods that contain beta-carotene. Most,91 , 92 but not all, trials93 have found that supplemental beta-carotene is not associated with a reduced risk of heart attacks.

1 Star
HIV and AIDS Support
Refer to label instructions
Beta-carotene levels have been found to be low in HIV-positive people, supplementing with it may be beneficial.

Caution: Synthetic beta-carotene has been linked to increased risk of lung cancer in smokers. Until more is known, smokers should avoid all beta-carotene supplements.

Beta-carotene levels have been found to be low in HIV-positive people, even in those without symptoms.94 However, trials on the effect of beta-carotene supplements have produced conflicting results. In one double-blind trial, supplementing with 300,000 IU per day of beta-carotene significantly increased the number of CD4+ cells in people with HIV infection.95 In a second double-blind study, supplementing with natural mixed carotenoids equivalent to 120,000 IU of beta-carotene per day significantly prolonged survival times in adults with advanced AIDS who were also receiving conventional therapy and a multivitamin.96 In another trial, however, 300,000 IU per day of beta-carotene had no effect on CD4+ cell counts or various other measures of immune function in HIV-infected people.97

1 Star
Macular Degeneration
Refer to label instructions
Sunlight triggers oxidative damage in the eye, which can cause macular degeneration. Beta-carotene protects against oxidative damage and may reduce macular degeneration risk.

Caution: Synthetic beta-carotene has been linked to increased risk of lung cancer in smokers. Until more is known, smokers should avoid all beta-carotene supplements.

Sunlight triggers oxidative damage in the eye, which in turn can cause macular degeneration.98 Animals given antioxidants —which protect against oxidative damage—have a lower risk of this vision problem.99 People with high blood levels of antioxidants also have a lower risk.100 Those with the highest levels (top 20th percentile) of the antioxidants selenium , vitamin C , and vitamin E may have a 70% lower risk of developing macular degeneration, compared with people with the lowest levels of these nutrients (bottom 20th percentile).101 People who eat fruits and vegetables high in beta-carotene , another antioxidant, are also at low risk.102 Some doctors recommend antioxidant supplements to reduce the risk of macular degeneration; reasonable adult levels include 200 mcg of selenium, 1,000 mg of vitamin C, 400 IU of vitamin E, and 25,000 IU of natural beta-carotene per day. However, a preliminary study found no association between age-related macular degeneration and intake of antioxidants, either from the diet, from supplements, or from both combined.103 Moreover, in a double-blind study of male cigarette smokers, supplementing with vitamin E (50 IU per day), synthetic beta-carotene (about 33,000 IU per day), or both did not reduce the incidence of age-related macular degeneration.104

1 Star
Sickle Cell Anemia
Refer to label instructions
Sickle cell anemia patients tend to have low levels of antioxidants, which protect cells from oxygen-related damage. Supplementing with beta-carotene may help correct a deficiency.

Caution: Synthetic beta-carotene has been linked to increased risk of lung cancer in smokers. Until more is known, smokers should avoid all beta-carotene supplements.

Antioxidant nutrients protect the body’s cells from oxygen-related damage. Many studies show that sickle cell anemia patients tend to have low blood levels of antioxidants, including carotenoids , vitamin A , vitamin E , and vitamin C , despite adequate intake.105 , 106 , 107 , 108 , 109 , 110 Low blood levels of vitamin E in particular have been associated with higher numbers of diseased cells in children111 and with greater frequency of symptoms in adults.112 A small, preliminary trial reported a 44% decrease in the average number of diseased cells in six sickle cell anemia patients given 450 IU vitamin E per day for up to 35 weeks. This effect was maintained as long as supplementation continued.113

How It Works

How to Use It

The most common beta-carotene supplement intake is probably 25,000 IU (15 mg) per day, though some people take as much as 100,000 IU (60 mg) per day. Whether the average person would benefit from supplementation with beta-carotene remains unclear.

Where to Find It

Dark green and orange-yellow vegetables are good sources of beta-carotene. It is also available in supplements.

Possible Deficiencies

People who limit their consumption of beta-carotene-containing vegetables could be at higher risk of developing a vitamin A deficiency. However, because beta-carotene is not an essential nutrient, true deficiencies do not occur. Nevertheless, very old persons with type 2 diabetes have shown a significant age-related decline in blood levels of carotenoids, irrespective of their dietary intake.114

Best Form to Take

Most beta-carotene in supplements is synthetic, consisting of only one molecule called all trans beta-carotene. Natural beta-carotene, found in food, is made of two molecules—all trans beta-carotene and 9-cis beta-carotene.

Researchers originally saw no meaningful difference between natural and synthetic beta-carotene. This view was questioned when the link between beta-carotene-containing foods (all natural) and lung cancer prevention115 was not duplicated in studies using synthetic pills.116 In smokers, synthetic beta-carotene has apparently caused an increased risk of lung cancer117 , 118 , 119 and disease of the blood vessels120 in double-blind research. Animal research has begun to identify the ways in which synthetic beta-carotene might cause damage to lungs, particularly when animals are exposed to cigarette smoke.121

Much of natural beta-carotene is in the all trans molecule form—the same as synthetic beta-carotene. Moreover, much of the 9-cis molecule found only in natural beta-carotene is converted to the synthetic molecule before it reaches the bloodstream.122 Also, absorption of 9-cis beta-carotene appears to be poor,123 though some researchers question this finding.124

Despite the overlap between natural and synthetic forms, natural beta-carotene may possibly have activity that is distinct from the synthetic form. For example, studies in both animals125 and humans126 have shown that the natural form has antioxidant activity that the synthetic form lacks. Also, in one trial, pre-cancerous changes in people reverted to normal tissue with natural beta-carotene supplements, but not with synthetic supplements.127 Israeli researchers have investigated whether the special antioxidant effects of natural beta-carotene might help people suffering from asthma attacks triggered by exercise.128 People with asthma triggered by exercise were given 64 mg per day of natural beta-carotene for one week. In that report, 20 of 38 patients receiving natural beta-carotene were protected against exercise-induced asthma. However, because synthetic beta-carotene was not tested, the difference between the activity of the two supplements cannot be deduced from this report.

Increasingly, doctors are recommending that people supplement only with natural beta-carotene. However, no studies have explored whether the adverse effect of synthetic beta-carotene in cigarette smokers would also occur with natural beta-carotene supplementation. Until more is known, smokers should avoid all beta-carotene supplements and others should avoid synthetic beta-carotene.

In supplements, the natural form can be identified by the phrases “from D. salina,”“from an algal source,”“from a palm source,” or as “natural beta-carotene” on the label. The synthetic form is identified as “beta-carotene.”

Interactions

Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds

At the time of writing, there were no well-known supplement or food interactions with this supplement.

Interactions with Medicines

Certain medicines interact with this supplement.

Types of interactions: Beneficial Adverse Check

Replenish Depleted Nutrients

  • Cholestyramine

    Use of colestipol for six months has been shown to significantly lower blood levels of carotenoids including beta-carotene .164

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Colchicine

    Colchicine has been associated with impaired absorption of beta-carotene , fat, lactose (milk sugar), potassium , and sodium.179

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Colesevelam

    Use of colestipol for six months has been shown to significantly lower blood levels of carotenoids including beta-carotene .180

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Colestipol

    Use of colestipol for six months has been shown to significantly lower blood levels of carotenoids including beta-carotene .181

  • Lansoprazole

    Omeprazole , a drug closely related to lansoprazole, taken for seven days led to a near-total loss of stomach acid in healthy people and interfered with the absorption of a single administration of 120 mg of beta-carotene.250 It is unknown whether repeated administration of beta-carotene would overcome this problem or if absorption of carotenoids from food would be impaired. Persons taking omeprazole and related acid-blocking drugs for long periods may want to have carotenoid blood levels checked, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, and consider supplementing with carotenoids.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Mineral Oil

    Mineral oil has interfered with the absorption of many nutrients, including beta-carotene , calcium , phosphorus , potassium , and vitamins A , D , K , and E in some,284 but not all,285 research. Taking mineral oil on an empty stomach may reduce this interference. It makes sense to take a daily multivitamin-mineral supplement two hours before or after mineral oil. It is important to read labels, because many multivitamins do not contain vitamin K or contain inadequate (less than 100 mcg per day) amounts.

  • Neomycin

    Neomycin can decrease absorption or increase elimination of many nutrients, including calcium , carbohydrates, beta-carotene , fats, folic acid , iron , magnesium , potassium , sodium, and vitamin A , vitamin B12 , vitamin D , and vitamin K .286 , 287 Surgery preparation with oral neomycin is unlikely to lead to deficiencies. It makes sense for people taking neomycin for more than a few days to also take a multivitamin-mineral supplement.

  • Orlistat

    One well-controlled study showed that taking orlistat greatly reduces the absorption of beta-carotene.288 Therefore, individuals taking orlistat for long periods of time should probably supplement with beta-carotene.

Reduce Side Effects

  • Busulfan

    Chemotherapy frequently causes mouth sores. In one trial, people were given approximately 400,000 IU of beta-carotene per day for three weeks and then 125,000 IU per day for an additional four weeks.129 Those taking beta-carotene still suffered mouth sores, but the mouth sores developed later and tended to be less severe than mouth sores that formed in people receiving the same chemotherapy without beta-carotene.

    In a study of chemotherapy-induced mouth sores, six of nine patients who applied vitamin E directly to their mouth sores had complete resolution of the sores compared with one of nine patients who applied placebo.130 Others have confirmed the potential for vitamin E to help people with chemotherapy-induced mouth sores.131 Applying vitamin E only once per day was helpful to only some groups of patients in another trial,132 and not all studies have found vitamin E to be effective.133 Until more is known, if vitamin E is used in an attempt to reduce chemotherapy-induced mouth sores, it should be applied topically twice per day and should probably be in the tocopherol (versus tocopheryl) form.

    In a preliminary study, the addition of oral vitamin E (300 IU per day) to cisplatin chemotherapy significantly reduced the incidence of drug-induced damage to the nervous system (neurotoxicity).134 A similar protective effect was seen in another trial in which 600 IU of vitamin E per day was used.135

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Capecitabine

    Chemotherapy frequently causes mouth sores. In one trial, people were given approximately 400,000 IU of beta-carotene per day for three weeks and then 125,000 IU per day for an additional four weeks.136 Those taking beta-carotene still suffered mouth sores, but the mouth sores developed later and tended to be less severe than mouth sores that formed in people receiving the same chemotherapy without beta-carotene.

    In a study of chemotherapy-induced mouth sores, six of nine patients who applied vitamin E directly to their mouth sores had complete resolution of the sores compared with one of nine patients who applied placebo.137 Others have confirmed the potential for vitamin E to help people with chemotherapy-induced mouth sores.138 Applying vitamin E only once per day was helpful to only some groups of patients in another trial,139 and not all studies have found vitamin E to be effective.140 Until more is known, if vitamin E is used in an attempt to reduce chemotherapy-induced mouth sores, it should be applied topically twice per day and should probably be in the tocopherol (versus tocopheryl) form.

    In a preliminary study, the addition of oral vitamin E (300 IU per day) to cisplatin chemotherapy significantly reduced the incidence of drug-induced damage to the nervous system (neurotoxicity).141 A similar protective effect was seen in another trial in which 600 IU of vitamin E per day was used.142

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Carboplatin

    Chemotherapy frequently causes mouth sores. In one trial, people were given approximately 400,000 IU of beta-carotene per day for three weeks and then 125,000 IU per day for an additional four weeks.143 Those taking beta-carotene still suffered mouth sores, but the mouth sores developed later and tended to be less severe than mouth sores that formed in people receiving the same chemotherapy without beta-carotene.

    In a study of chemotherapy-induced mouth sores, six of nine patients who applied vitamin E directly to their mouth sores had complete resolution of the sores compared with one of nine patients who applied placebo.144 Others have confirmed the potential for vitamin E to help people with chemotherapy-induced mouth sores.145 Applying vitamin E only once per day was helpful to only some groups of patients in another trial,146 and not all studies have found vitamin E to be effective.147 Until more is known, if vitamin E is used in an attempt to reduce chemotherapy-induced mouth sores, it should be applied topically twice per day and should probably be in the tocopherol (versus tocopheryl) form.

    In a preliminary study, the addition of oral vitamin E (300 IU per day) to cisplatin chemotherapy significantly reduced the incidence of drug-induced damage to the nervous system (neurotoxicity).148 A similar protective effect was seen in another trial in which 600 IU of vitamin E per day was used.149

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Carmustine

    Chemotherapy frequently causes mouth sores. In one trial, people were given approximately 400,000 IU of beta-carotene per day for three weeks and then 125,000 IU per day for an additional four weeks.150 Those taking beta-carotene still suffered mouth sores, but the mouth sores developed later and tended to be less severe than mouth sores that formed in people receiving the same chemotherapy without beta-carotene.

    In a study of chemotherapy-induced mouth sores, six of nine patients who applied vitamin E directly to their mouth sores had complete resolution of the sores compared with one of nine patients who applied placebo.151 Others have confirmed the potential for vitamin E to help people with chemotherapy-induced mouth sores.152 Applying vitamin E only once per day was helpful to only some groups of patients in another trial,153 and not all studies have found vitamin E to be effective.154 Until more is known, if vitamin E is used in an attempt to reduce chemotherapy-induced mouth sores, it should be applied topically twice per day and should probably be in the tocopherol (versus tocopheryl) form.

    In a preliminary study, the addition of oral vitamin E (300 IU per day) to cisplatin chemotherapy significantly reduced the incidence of drug-induced damage to the nervous system (neurotoxicity).155 A similar protective effect was seen in another trial in which 600 IU of vitamin E per day was used.156

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Chlorambucil

    Chemotherapy frequently causes mouth sores. In one trial, people were given approximately 400,000 IU of beta-carotene per day for three weeks and then 125,000 IU per day for an additional four weeks.157 Those taking beta-carotene still suffered mouth sores, but the mouth sores developed later and tended to be less severe than mouth sores that formed in people receiving the same chemotherapy without beta-carotene.

    In a study of chemotherapy-induced mouth sores, six of nine patients who applied vitamin E directly to their mouth sores had complete resolution of the sores compared with one of nine patients who applied placebo.158 Others have confirmed the potential for vitamin E to help people with chemotherapy-induced mouth sores.159 Applying vitamin E only once per day was helpful to only some groups of patients in another trial,160 and not all studies have found vitamin E to be effective.161 Until more is known, if vitamin E is used in an attempt to reduce chemotherapy-induced mouth sores, it should be applied topically twice per day and should probably be in the tocopherol (versus tocopheryl) form.

    In a preliminary study, the addition of oral vitamin E (300 IU per day) to cisplatin chemotherapy significantly reduced the incidence of drug-induced damage to the nervous system (neurotoxicity).162 A similar protective effect was seen in another trial in which 600 IU of vitamin E per day was used.163

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Cisplatin

    Chemotherapy frequently causes mouth sores. In one trial, people were given approximately 400,000 IU of beta-carotene per day for three weeks and then 125,000 IU per day for an additional four weeks.165 Those taking beta-carotene still suffered mouth sores, but the mouth sores developed later and tended to be less severe than mouth sores that formed in people receiving the same chemotherapy without beta-carotene.

    In a study of chemotherapy-induced mouth sores, six of nine patients who applied vitamin E directly to their mouth sores had complete resolution of the sores compared with one of nine patients who applied placebo.166 Others have confirmed the potential for vitamin E to help people with chemotherapy-induced mouth sores.167 Applying vitamin E only once per day was helpful to only some groups of patients in another trial,168 and not all studies have found vitamin E to be effective.169 Until more is known, if vitamin E is used in an attempt to reduce chemotherapy-induced mouth sores, it should be applied topically twice per day and should probably be in the tocopherol (versus tocopheryl) form.

    In a preliminary study, the addition of oral vitamin E (300 IU per day) to cisplatin chemotherapy significantly reduced the incidence of drug-induced damage to the nervous system (neurotoxicity).170 A similar protective effect was seen in another trial in which 600 IU of vitamin E per day was used.171

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Cladribine

    Chemotherapy frequently causes mouth sores. In one trial, people were given approximately 400,000 IU of beta-carotene per day for three weeks and then 125,000 IU per day for an additional four weeks.172 Those taking beta-carotene still suffered mouth sores, but the mouth sores developed later and tended to be less severe than mouth sores that formed in people receiving the same chemotherapy without beta-carotene.

    In a study of chemotherapy-induced mouth sores, six of nine patients who applied vitamin E directly to their mouth sores had complete resolution of the sores compared with one of nine patients who applied placebo.173 Others have confirmed the potential for vitamin E to help people with chemotherapy-induced mouth sores.174 Applying vitamin E only once per day was helpful to only some groups of patients in another trial,175 and not all studies have found vitamin E to be effective.176 Until more is known, if vitamin E is used in an attempt to reduce chemotherapy-induced mouth sores, it should be applied topically twice per day and should probably be in the tocopherol (versus tocopheryl) form.

    In a preliminary study, the addition of oral vitamin E (300 IU per day) to cisplatin chemotherapy significantly reduced the incidence of drug-induced damage to the nervous system (neurotoxicity).177 A similar protective effect was seen in another trial in which 600 IU of vitamin E per day was used.178

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Cyclophosphamide

    Chemotherapy frequently causes mouth sores. In one trial, people were given approximately 400,000 IU of beta-carotene per day for three weeks and then 125,000 IU per day for an additional four weeks.182 Those taking beta-carotene still suffered mouth sores, but the mouth sores developed later and tended to be less severe than mouth sores that formed in people receiving the same chemotherapy without beta-carotene.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Cytarabine

    Chemotherapy frequently causes mouth sores. In one trial, people were given approximately 400,000 IU of beta-carotene per day for three weeks and then 125,000 IU per day for an additional four weeks.183 Those taking beta-carotene still suffered mouth sores, but the mouth sores developed later and tended to be less severe than mouth sores that formed in people receiving the same chemotherapy without beta-carotene.

    In a study of chemotherapy-induced mouth sores, six of nine patients who applied vitamin E directly to their mouth sores had complete resolution of the sores compared with one of nine patients who applied placebo.184 Others have confirmed the potential for vitamin E to help people with chemotherapy-induced mouth sores.185 Applying vitamin E only once per day was helpful to only some groups of patients in another trial,186 and not all studies have found vitamin E to be effective.187 Until more is known, if vitamin E is used in an attempt to reduce chemotherapy-induced mouth sores, it should be applied topically twice per day and should probably be in the tocopherol (versus tocopheryl) form.

    In a preliminary study, the addition of oral vitamin E (300 IU per day) to cisplatin chemotherapy significantly reduced the incidence of drug-induced damage to the nervous system (neurotoxicity).188 A similar protective effect was seen in another trial in which 600 IU of vitamin E per day was used.189

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Docetaxel

    Chemotherapy frequently causes mouth sores. In one trial, people were given approximately 400,000 IU of beta-carotene per day for three weeks and then 125,000 IU per day for an additional four weeks.190 Those taking beta-carotene still suffered mouth sores, but the mouth sores developed later and tended to be less severe than mouth sores that formed in people receiving the same chemotherapy without beta-carotene.

    In a study of chemotherapy-induced mouth sores, six of nine patients who applied vitamin E directly to their mouth sores had complete resolution of the sores compared with one of nine patients who applied placebo.191 Others have confirmed the potential for vitamin E to help people with chemotherapy-induced mouth sores.192 Applying vitamin E only once per day was helpful to only some groups of patients in another trial,193 and not all studies have found vitamin E to be effective.194 Until more is known, if vitamin E is used in an attempt to reduce chemotherapy-induced mouth sores, it should be applied topically twice per day and should probably be in the tocopherol (versus tocopheryl) form.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Erlotinib

    Chemotherapy frequently causes mouth sores. In one trial, people were given approximately 400,000 IU of beta-carotene per day for three weeks and then 125,000 IU per day for an additional four weeks.195 Those taking beta-carotene still suffered mouth sores, but the mouth sores developed later and tended to be less severe than mouth sores that formed in people receiving the same chemotherapy without beta-carotene.

    In a study of chemotherapy-induced mouth sores, six of nine patients who applied vitamin E directly to their mouth sores had complete resolution of the sores compared with one of nine patients who applied placebo.196 Others have confirmed the potential for vitamin E to help people with chemotherapy-induced mouth sores.197 Applying vitamin E only once per day was helpful to only some groups of patients in another trial,198 and not all studies have found vitamin E to be effective.199 Until more is known, if vitamin E is used in an attempt to reduce chemotherapy-induced mouth sores, it should be applied topically twice per day and should probably be in the tocopherol (versus tocopheryl) form.

    In a preliminary study, the addition of oral vitamin E (300 IU per day) to cisplatin chemotherapy significantly reduced the incidence of drug-induced damage to the nervous system (neurotoxicity).200 A similar protective effect was seen in another trial in which 600 IU of vitamin E per day was used.201

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Etoposide

    Chemotherapy frequently causes mouth sores. In one trial, people were given approximately 400,000 IU of beta-carotene per day for three weeks and then 125,000 IU per day for an additional four weeks.202 Those taking beta-carotene still suffered mouth sores, but the mouth sores developed later and tended to be less severe than mouth sores that formed in people receiving the same chemotherapy without beta-carotene.

    In a study of chemotherapy-induced mouth sores, six of nine patients who applied vitamin E directly to their mouth sores had complete resolution of the sores compared with one of nine patients who applied placebo.203 Others have confirmed the potential for vitamin E to help people with chemotherapy-induced mouth sores.204 Applying vitamin E only once per day was helpful to only some groups of patients in another trial,205 and not all studies have found vitamin E to be effective.206 Until more is known, if vitamin E is used in an attempt to reduce chemotherapy-induced mouth sores, it should be applied topically twice per day and should probably be in the tocopherol (versus tocopheryl) form.

    In a preliminary study, the addition of oral vitamin E (300 IU per day) to cisplatin chemotherapy significantly reduced the incidence of drug-induced damage to the nervous system (neurotoxicity).207 A similar protective effect was seen in another trial in which 600 IU of vitamin E per day was used.208

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Floxuridine

    Chemotherapy frequently causes mouth sores. In one trial, people were given approximately 400,000 IU of beta-carotene per day for three weeks and then 125,000 IU per day for an additional four weeks.209 Those taking beta-carotene still suffered mouth sores, but the mouth sores developed later and tended to be less severe than mouth sores that formed in people receiving the same chemotherapy without beta-carotene.

    In a study of chemotherapy-induced mouth sores, six of nine patients who applied vitamin E directly to their mouth sores had complete resolution of the sores compared with one of nine patients who applied placebo.210 Others have confirmed the potential for vitamin E to help people with chemotherapy-induced mouth sores.211 Applying vitamin E only once per day was helpful to only some groups of patients in another trial,212 and not all studies have found vitamin E to be effective.213 Until more is known, if vitamin E is used in an attempt to reduce chemotherapy-induced mouth sores, it should be applied topically twice per day and should probably be in the tocopherol (versus tocopheryl) form.

    In a preliminary study, the addition of oral vitamin E (300 IU per day) to cisplatin chemotherapy significantly reduced the incidence of drug-induced damage to the nervous system (neurotoxicity).214 A similar protective effect was seen in another trial in which 600 IU of vitamin E per day was used.215

    The chemotherapy drug cisplatin may cause kidney damage, resulting in depletion of calcium and phosphate.216

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Fludarabine

    Chemotherapy frequently causes mouth sores. In one trial, people were given approximately 400,000 IU of beta-carotene per day for three weeks and then 125,000 IU per day for an additional four weeks.217 Those taking beta-carotene still suffered mouth sores, but the mouth sores developed later and tended to be less severe than mouth sores that formed in people receiving the same chemotherapy without beta-carotene.

    In a study of chemotherapy-induced mouth sores, six of nine patients who applied vitamin E directly to their mouth sores had complete resolution of the sores compared with one of nine patients who applied placebo.218 Others have confirmed the potential for vitamin E to help people with chemotherapy-induced mouth sores.219 Applying vitamin E only once per day was helpful to only some groups of patients in another trial,220 and not all studies have found vitamin E to be effective.221 Until more is known, if vitamin E is used in an attempt to reduce chemotherapy-induced mouth sores, it should be applied topically twice per day and should probably be in the tocopherol (versus tocopheryl) form.

    In a preliminary study, the addition of oral vitamin E (300 IU per day) to cisplatin chemotherapy significantly reduced the incidence of drug-induced damage to the nervous system (neurotoxicity).222 A similar protective effect was seen in another trial in which 600 IU of vitamin E per day was used.223

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Fluorouracil

    Chemotherapy frequently causes mouth sores. In one trial, people were given approximately 400,000 IU of beta-carotene per day for three weeks and then 125,000 IU per day for an additional four weeks.224 Those taking beta-carotene still suffered mouth sores, but the mouth sores developed later and tended to be less severe than mouth sores that formed in people receiving the same chemotherapy without beta-carotene.

    In a study of chemotherapy-induced mouth sores, six of nine patients who applied vitamin E directly to their mouth sores had complete resolution of the sores compared with one of nine patients who applied placebo.225 Others have confirmed the potential for vitamin E to help people with chemotherapy-induced mouth sores.226 Applying vitamin E only once per day was helpful to only some groups of patients in another trial,227 and not all studies have found vitamin E to be effective.228 Until more is known, if vitamin E is used in an attempt to reduce chemotherapy-induced mouth sores, it should be applied topically twice per day and should probably be in the tocopherol (versus tocopheryl) form.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Hydroxyurea

    Chemotherapy frequently causes mouth sores. In one trial, people were given approximately 400,000 IU of beta-carotene per day for three weeks and then 125,000 IU per day for an additional four weeks.229 Those taking beta-carotene still suffered mouth sores, but the mouth sores developed later and tended to be less severe than mouth sores that formed in people receiving the same chemotherapy without beta-carotene.

    In a study of chemotherapy-induced mouth sores, six of nine patients who applied vitamin E directly to their mouth sores had complete resolution of the sores compared with one of nine patients who applied placebo.230 Others have confirmed the potential for vitamin E to help people with chemotherapy-induced mouth sores.231 Applying vitamin E only once per day was helpful to only some groups of patients in another trial,232 and not all studies have found vitamin E to be effective.233 Until more is known, if vitamin E is used in an attempt to reduce chemotherapy-induced mouth sores, it should be applied topically twice per day and should probably be in the tocopherol (versus tocopheryl) form.

    In a preliminary study, the addition of oral vitamin E (300 IU per day) to cisplatin chemotherapy significantly reduced the incidence of drug-induced damage to the nervous system (neurotoxicity).234 A similar protective effect was seen in another trial in which 600 IU of vitamin E per day was used.235

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Ifosfamide

    Chemotherapy frequently causes mouth sores. In one trial, people were given approximately 400,000 IU of beta-carotene per day for three weeks and then 125,000 IU per day for an additional four weeks.236 Those taking beta-carotene still suffered mouth sores, but the mouth sores developed later and tended to be less severe than mouth sores that formed in people receiving the same chemotherapy without beta-carotene.

    In a study of chemotherapy-induced mouth sores, six of nine patients who applied vitamin E directly to their mouth sores had complete resolution of the sores compared with one of nine patients who applied placebo.237 Others have confirmed the potential for vitamin E to help people with chemotherapy-induced mouth sores.238 Applying vitamin E only once per day was helpful to only some groups of patients in another trial,239 and not all studies have found vitamin E to be effective.240 Until more is known, if vitamin E is used in an attempt to reduce chemotherapy-induced mouth sores, it should be applied topically twice per day and should probably be in the tocopherol (versus tocopheryl) form.

    In a preliminary study, the addition of oral vitamin E (300 IU per day) to cisplatin chemotherapy significantly reduced the incidence of drug-induced damage to the nervous system (neurotoxicity).241 A similar protective effect was seen in another trial in which 600 IU of vitamin E per day was used.242

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Irinotecan

    Chemotherapy frequently causes mouth sores. In one trial, people were given approximately 400,000 IU of beta-carotene per day for three weeks and then 125,000 IU per day for an additional four weeks.243 Those taking beta-carotene still suffered mouth sores, but the mouth sores developed later and tended to be less severe than mouth sores that formed in people receiving the same chemotherapy without beta-carotene.

    In a study of chemotherapy-induced mouth sores, six of nine patients who applied vitamin E directly to their mouth sores had complete resolution of the sores compared with one of nine patients who applied placebo.244 Others have confirmed the potential for vitamin E to help people with chemotherapy-induced mouth sores.245 Applying vitamin E only once per day was helpful to only some groups of patients in another trial,246 and not all studies have found vitamin E to be effective.247 Until more is known, if vitamin E is used in an attempt to reduce chemotherapy-induced mouth sores, it should be applied topically twice per day and should probably be in the tocopherol (versus tocopheryl) form.

    In a preliminary study, the addition of oral vitamin E (300 IU per day) to cisplatin chemotherapy significantly reduced the incidence of drug-induced damage to the nervous system (neurotoxicity).248 A similar protective effect was seen in another trial in which 600 IU of vitamin E per day was used.249

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Lomustine

    Chemotherapy frequently causes mouth sores. In one trial, people were given approximately 400,000 IU of beta-carotene per day for three weeks and then 125,000 IU per day for an additional four weeks.251 Those taking beta-carotene still suffered mouth sores, but the mouth sores developed later and tended to be less severe than mouth sores that formed in people receiving the same chemotherapy without beta-carotene.

    In a study of chemotherapy-induced mouth sores, six of nine patients who applied vitamin E directly to their mouth sores had complete resolution of the sores compared with one of nine patients who applied placebo.252 Others have confirmed the potential for vitamin E to help people with chemotherapy-induced mouth sores.253 Applying vitamin E only once per day was helpful to only some groups of patients in another trial,254 and not all studies have found vitamin E to be effective.255 Until more is known, if vitamin E is used in an attempt to reduce chemotherapy-induced mouth sores, it should be applied topically twice per day and should probably be in the tocopherol (versus tocopheryl) form.

    In a preliminary study, the addition of oral vitamin E (300 IU per day) to cisplatin chemotherapy significantly reduced the incidence of drug-induced damage to the nervous system (neurotoxicity).256 A similar protective effect was seen in another trial in which 600 IU of vitamin E per day was used.257

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Mechlorethamine

    Chemotherapy frequently causes mouth sores. In one trial, people were given approximately 400,000 IU of beta-carotene per day for three weeks and then 125,000 IU per day for an additional four weeks.258 Those taking beta-carotene still suffered mouth sores, but the mouth sores developed later and tended to be less severe than mouth sores that formed in people receiving the same chemotherapy without beta-carotene.

    In a study of chemotherapy-induced mouth sores, six of nine patients who applied vitamin E directly to their mouth sores had complete resolution of the sores compared with one of nine patients who applied placebo.259 Others have confirmed the potential for vitamin E to help people with chemotherapy-induced mouth sores.260 Applying vitamin E only once per day was helpful to only some groups of patients in another trial,261 and not all studies have found vitamin E to be effective.262 Until more is known, if vitamin E is used in an attempt to reduce chemotherapy-induced mouth sores, it should be applied topically twice per day and should probably be in the tocopherol (versus tocopheryl) form.

    In a preliminary study, the addition of oral vitamin E (300 IU per day) to cisplatin chemotherapy significantly reduced the incidence of drug-induced damage to the nervous system (neurotoxicity).263 A similar protective effect was seen in another trial in which 600 IU of vitamin E per day was used.264

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Melphalan

    Chemotherapy frequently causes mouth sores. In one trial, people were given approximately 400,000 IU of beta-carotene per day for three weeks and then 125,000 IU per day for an additional four weeks.265 Those taking beta-carotene still suffered mouth sores, but the mouth sores developed later and tended to be less severe than mouth sores that formed in people receiving the same chemotherapy without beta-carotene.

    In a study of chemotherapy-induced mouth sores, six of nine patients who applied vitamin E directly to their mouth sores had complete resolution of the sores compared with one of nine patients who applied placebo.266 Others have confirmed the potential for vitamin E to help people with chemotherapy-induced mouth sores.267 Applying vitamin E only once per day was helpful to only some groups of patients in another trial,268 and not all studies have found vitamin E to be effective.269 Until more is known, if vitamin E is used in an attempt to reduce chemotherapy-induced mouth sores, it should be applied topically twice per day and should probably be in the tocopherol (versus tocopheryl) form.

    In a preliminary study, the addition of oral vitamin E (300 IU per day) to cisplatin chemotherapy significantly reduced the incidence of drug-induced damage to the nervous system (neurotoxicity).270 A similar protective effect was seen in another trial in which 600 IU of vitamin E per day was used.271

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Mercaptopurine

    Chemotherapy frequently causes mouth sores. In one trial, people were given approximately 400,000 IU of beta-carotene per day for three weeks and then 125,000 IU per day for an additional four weeks.272 Those taking beta-carotene still suffered mouth sores, but the mouth sores developed later and tended to be less severe than mouth sores that formed in people receiving the same chemotherapy without beta-carotene.

    In a study of chemotherapy-induced mouth sores, six of nine patients who applied vitamin E directly to their mouth sores had complete resolution of the sores compared with one of nine patients who applied placebo.273 Others have confirmed the potential for vitamin E to help people with chemotherapy-induced mouth sores.274 Applying vitamin E only once per day was helpful to only some groups of patients in another trial,275 and not all studies have found vitamin E to be effective.276 Until more is known, if vitamin E is used in an attempt to reduce chemotherapy-induced mouth sores, it should be applied topically twice per day and should probably be in the tocopherol (versus tocopheryl) form.

    In a preliminary study, the addition of oral vitamin E (300 IU per day) to cisplatin chemotherapy significantly reduced the incidence of drug-induced damage to the nervous system (neurotoxicity).277 A similar protective effect was seen in another trial in which 600 IU of vitamin E per day was used.278

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Methotrexate

    Chemotherapy frequently causes mouth sores. In one trial, people were given approximately 400,000 IU of beta-carotene per day for three weeks and then 125,000 IU per day for an additional four weeks.279 Those taking beta-carotene still suffered mouth sores, but the mouth sores developed later and tended to be less severe than mouth sores that formed in people receiving the same chemotherapy without beta-carotene.

    In a study of chemotherapy-induced mouth sores, six of nine patients who applied vitamin E directly to their mouth sores had complete resolution of the sores compared with one of nine patients who applied placebo.280 Others have confirmed the potential for vitamin E to help people with chemotherapy-induced mouth sores.281 Applying vitamin E only once per day was helpful to only some groups of patients in another trial,282 and not all studies have found vitamin E to be effective.283 Until more is known, if vitamin E is used in an attempt to reduce chemotherapy-induced mouth sores, it should be applied topically twice per day and should probably be in the tocopherol (versus tocopheryl) form.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Paclitaxel

    Chemotherapy frequently causes mouth sores. In one trial, people were given approximately 400,000 IU of beta-carotene per day for three weeks and then 125,000 IU per day for an additional four weeks.289 Those taking beta-carotene still suffered mouth sores, but the mouth sores developed later and tended to be less severe than mouth sores that formed in people receiving the same chemotherapy without beta-carotene.

    In a study of chemotherapy-induced mouth sores, six of nine patients who applied vitamin E directly to their mouth sores had complete resolution of the sores compared with one of nine patients who applied placebo.290 Others have confirmed the potential for vitamin E to help people with chemotherapy-induced mouth sores.291 Applying vitamin E only once per day was helpful to only some groups of patients in another trial,292 and not all studies have found vitamin E to be effective.293 Until more is known, if vitamin E is used in an attempt to reduce chemotherapy-induced mouth sores, it should be applied topically twice per day and should probably be in the tocopherol (versus tocopheryl) form. In another study, supplementation with vitamin E orally (600 IU per day) reduced the incidence of paclitaxel-induced nerve damage.294

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Polifeprosan 20 with Carmustine

    Chemotherapy frequently causes mouth sores. In one trial, people were given approximately 400,000 IU of beta-carotene per day for three weeks and then 125,000 IU per day for an additional four weeks.295 Those taking beta-carotene still suffered mouth sores, but the mouth sores developed later and tended to be less severe than mouth sores that formed in people receiving the same chemotherapy without beta-carotene.

    In a study of chemotherapy-induced mouth sores, six of nine patients who applied vitamin E directly to their mouth sores had complete resolution of the sores compared with one of nine patients who applied placebo.296 Others have confirmed the potential for vitamin E to help people with chemotherapy-induced mouth sores.297 Applying vitamin E only once per day was helpful to only some groups of patients in another trial,298 and not all studies have found vitamin E to be effective.299 Until more is known, if vitamin E is used in an attempt to reduce chemotherapy-induced mouth sores, it should be applied topically twice per day and should probably be in the tocopherol (versus tocopheryl) form.

    In a preliminary study, the addition of oral vitamin E (300 IU per day) to cisplatin chemotherapy significantly reduced the incidence of drug-induced damage to the nervous system (neurotoxicity).300 A similar protective effect was seen in another trial in which 600 IU of vitamin E per day was used.301

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Quinidine

    Some people taking quinidine develop sensitivity to ultraviolet radiation from the sun. In a preliminary study, three people with quinidine-induced skin inflammation were able to tolerate intense sun exposure without recurrence of the rash after supplementing with 90–180 mg of beta-carotene each day.302 Further research is needed to confirm that people taking quinidine can prevent side effects by supplementing with beta-carotene.

  • Thioguanine

    Chemotherapy frequently causes mouth sores. In one trial, people were given approximately 400,000 IU of beta-carotene per day for three weeks and then 125,000 IU per day for an additional four weeks.303 Those taking beta-carotene still suffered mouth sores, but the mouth sores developed later and tended to be less severe than mouth sores that formed in people receiving the same chemotherapy without beta-carotene.

    In a study of chemotherapy-induced mouth sores, six of nine patients who applied vitamin E directly to their mouth sores had complete resolution of the sores compared with one of nine patients who applied placebo.304 Others have confirmed the potential for vitamin E to help people with chemotherapy-induced mouth sores.305 Applying vitamin E only once per day was helpful to only some groups of patients in another trial,306 and not all studies have found vitamin E to be effective.307 Until more is known, if vitamin E is used in an attempt to reduce chemotherapy-induced mouth sores, it should be applied topically twice per day and should probably be in the tocopherol (versus tocopheryl) form.

    In a preliminary study, the addition of oral vitamin E (300 IU per day) to cisplatin chemotherapy significantly reduced the incidence of drug-induced damage to the nervous system (neurotoxicity).308 A similar protective effect was seen in another trial in which 600 IU of vitamin E per day was used.309

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Thiotepa

    Chemotherapy frequently causes mouth sores. In one trial, people were given approximately 400,000 IU of beta-carotene per day for three weeks and then 125,000 IU per day for an additional four weeks.310 Those taking beta-carotene still suffered mouth sores, but the mouth sores developed later and tended to be less severe than mouth sores that formed in people receiving the same chemotherapy without beta-carotene.

    In a study of chemotherapy-induced mouth sores, six of nine patients who applied vitamin E directly to their mouth sores had complete resolution of the sores compared with one of nine patients who applied placebo.311 Others have confirmed the potential for vitamin E to help people with chemotherapy-induced mouth sores.312 Applying vitamin E only once per day was helpful to only some groups of patients in another trial,313 and not all studies have found vitamin E to be effective.314 Until more is known, if vitamin E is used in an attempt to reduce chemotherapy-induced mouth sores, it should be applied topically twice per day and should probably be in the tocopherol (versus tocopheryl) form.

    In a preliminary study, the addition of oral vitamin E (300 IU per day) to cisplatin chemotherapy significantly reduced the incidence of drug-induced damage to the nervous system (neurotoxicity).315 A similar protective effect was seen in another trial in which 600 IU of vitamin E per day was used.316

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Uracil Mustard

    Chemotherapy frequently causes mouth sores. In one trial, people were given approximately 400,000 IU of beta-carotene per day for three weeks and then 125,000 IU per day for an additional four weeks.317 Those taking beta-carotene still suffered mouth sores, but the mouth sores developed later and tended to be less severe than mouth sores that formed in people receiving the same chemotherapy without beta-carotene.

    In a study of chemotherapy-induced mouth sores, six of nine patients who applied vitamin E directly to their mouth sores had complete resolution of the sores compared with one of nine patients who applied placebo.318 Others have confirmed the potential for vitamin E to help people with chemotherapy-induced mouth sores.319 Applying vitamin E only once per day was helpful to only some groups of patients in another trial,320 and not all studies have found vitamin E to be effective.321 Until more is known, if vitamin E is used in an attempt to reduce chemotherapy-induced mouth sores, it should be applied topically twice per day and should probably be in the tocopherol (versus tocopheryl) form.

    In a preliminary study, the addition of oral vitamin E (300 IU per day) to cisplatin chemotherapy significantly reduced the incidence of drug-induced damage to the nervous system (neurotoxicity).322 A similar protective effect was seen in another trial in which 600 IU of vitamin E per day was used.323

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Vinblastine

    Chemotherapy frequently causes mouth sores. In one trial, people were given approximately 400,000 IU of beta-carotene per day for three weeks and then 125,000 IU per day for an additional four weeks.324 Those taking beta-carotene still suffered mouth sores, but the mouth sores developed later and tended to be less severe than mouth sores that formed in people receiving the same chemotherapy without beta-carotene.

    In a study of chemotherapy-induced mouth sores, six of nine patients who applied vitamin E directly to their mouth sores had complete resolution of the sores compared with one of nine patients who applied placebo.325 Others have confirmed the potential for vitamin E to help people with chemotherapy-induced mouth sores.326 Applying vitamin E only once per day was helpful to only some groups of patients in another trial,327 and not all studies have found vitamin E to be effective.328 Until more is known, if vitamin E is used in an attempt to reduce chemotherapy-induced mouth sores, it should be applied topically twice per day and should probably be in the tocopherol (versus tocopheryl) form.

    In a preliminary study, the addition of oral vitamin E (300 IU per day) to cisplatin chemotherapy significantly reduced the incidence of drug-induced damage to the nervous system (neurotoxicity).329 A similar protective effect was seen in another trial in which 600 IU of vitamin E per day was used.330

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Vincristine

    Chemotherapy frequently causes mouth sores. In one trial, people were given approximately 400,000 IU of beta-carotene per day for three weeks and then 125,000 IU per day for an additional four weeks.331 Those taking beta-carotene still suffered mouth sores, but the mouth sores developed later and tended to be less severe than mouth sores that formed in people receiving the same chemotherapy without beta-carotene.

    In a study of chemotherapy-induced mouth sores, six of nine patients who applied vitamin E directly to their mouth sores had complete resolution of the sores compared with one of nine patients who applied placebo.332 Others have confirmed the potential for vitamin E to help people with chemotherapy-induced mouth sores.333 Applying vitamin E only once per day was helpful to only some groups of patients in another trial,334 and not all studies have found vitamin E to be effective.335 Until more is known, if vitamin E is used in an attempt to reduce chemotherapy-induced mouth sores, it should be applied topically twice per day and should probably be in the tocopherol (versus tocopheryl) form.

    In a preliminary study, the addition of oral vitamin E (300 IU per day) to cisplatin chemotherapy significantly reduced the incidence of drug-induced damage to the nervous system (neurotoxicity).336 A similar protective effect was seen in another trial in which 600 IU of vitamin E per day was used.337

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.

Support Medicine

  • none

Reduces Effectiveness

  • none

Potential Negative Interaction

  • none

Explanation Required

  • none

The Drug-Nutrient Interactions table may not include every possible interaction. Taking medicines with meals, on an empty stomach, or with alcohol may influence their effects. For details, refer to the manufacturers’ package information as these are not covered in this table. If you take medications, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.

Side Effects

Side Effects

Caution:Synthetic beta-carotene has been linked to increased risk of lung cancer in smokers. Until more is known, smokers should avoid all beta-carotene supplements.

Beta-carotene supplementation, even in very large amounts, is not known to cause any serious side effects,338 , 339 however, excessive intake (more than 100,000 IU, or 60 mg per day) sometimes gives the skin a yellow-orange hue. People taking beta-carotene for long periods of time should also supplement with vitamin E , as beta-carotene may reduce vitamin E levels.340 Beta carotene supplementation may also decrease blood levels of lutein , another carotenoid.341

Preliminary studies in animals indicate that beta-carotene supplementation, when combined with heavy alcohol consumption, may enhance liver toxicity.342 Until more is known, alcoholics and persons who consume alcohol on a daily basis should avoid supplementing with beta-carotene.

One study showed a slightly increased risk of vascular surgery among people with intermittent claudication who took beta-carotene supplements.343 Until more is known, persons wishing to use beta-carotene supplements should first consult with their doctor.

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311. Wadleigh RG, Redman RS, Graham ML, et al. Vitamin E in the treatment of chemotherapy-induced mucositis. Am J Med 1992;92:481-4.

312. Lopez I, Goudou C, Ribrag V, et al. Treatment of mucositis with vitamin E during administration of neutropenic antineoplastic agents. Ann Med Intern[Paris] 1994;145:405-8.

313. Lopez I, Goudou C, Ribrag V, et al. Treatment of mucositis with vitamin E during administration of neutropenic antineoplastic agents. Ann Med Intern[Paris] 1994;145:405-8.

314. Legha SS, Wang YM, Mackay B, et al. Clinical and pharmacologic investigation of the effects of alpha-tocopherol on Adriamycin cardiotoxicity. Ann NY Acad Sci 1982;393:411-8.

315. Pace A, Savarese A, Picardo M, et al. Neuroprotective effect of vitamin E supplementation in patients treated with cisplatin chemotherapy. J Clin Oncol2003;21:927-31.

316. Argyriou AA, Chroni E, Koutras A, et al. Vitamin E for prophylaxis against chemotherapy-induced neuropathy: a randomized controlled trial. Neurology2005;64:26-31.

317. Mills EE. The modifying effect of beta-carotene on radiation and chemotherapy induced oral mucositis. Br J Cancer 1988;57:416-7.

318. Wadleigh RG, Redman RS, Graham ML, et al. Vitamin E in the treatment of chemotherapy-induced mucositis. Am J Med 1992;92:481-4.

319. Lopez I, Goudou C, Ribrag V, et al. Treatment of mucositis with vitamin E during administration of neutropenic antineoplastic agents. Ann Med Intern[Paris] 1994;145:405-8.

320. Lopez I, Goudou C, Ribrag V, et al. Treatment of mucositis with vitamin E during administration of neutropenic antineoplastic agents. Ann Med Intern[Paris] 1994;145:405-8.

321. Legha SS, Wang YM, Mackay B, et al. Clinical and pharmacologic investigation of the effects of alpha-tocopherol on Adriamycin cardiotoxicity. Ann NY Acad Sci 1982;393:411-8.

322. Pace A, Savarese A, Picardo M, et al. Neuroprotective effect of vitamin E supplementation in patients treated with cisplatin chemotherapy. J Clin Oncol2003;21:927-31.

323. Argyriou AA, Chroni E, Koutras A, et al. Vitamin E for prophylaxis against chemotherapy-induced neuropathy: a randomized controlled trial. Neurology2005;64:26-31.

324. Mills EE. The modifying effect of beta-carotene on radiation and chemotherapy induced oral mucositis. Br J Cancer 1988;57:416-7.

325. Wadleigh RG, Redman RS, Graham ML, et al. Vitamin E in the treatment of chemotherapy-induced mucositis. Am J Med 1992;92:481-4.

326. Lopez I, Goudou C, Ribrag V, et al. Treatment of mucositis with vitamin E during administration of neutropenic antineoplastic agents. Ann Med Intern[Paris] 1994;145:405-8.

327. Lopez I, Goudou C, Ribrag V, et al. Treatment of mucositis with vitamin E during administration of neutropenic antineoplastic agents. Ann Med Intern[Paris] 1994;145:405-8.

328. Legha SS, Wang YM, Mackay B, et al. Clinical and pharmacologic investigation of the effects of alpha-tocopherol on Adriamycin cardiotoxicity. Ann NY Acad Sci 1982;393:411-8.

329. Pace A, Savarese A, Picardo M, et al. Neuroprotective effect of vitamin E supplementation in patients treated with cisplatin chemotherapy. J Clin Oncol2003;21:927-31.

330. Argyriou AA, Chroni E, Koutras A, et al. Vitamin E for prophylaxis against chemotherapy-induced neuropathy: a randomized controlled trial. Neurology2005;64:26-31.

331. Mills EE. The modifying effect of beta-carotene on radiation and chemotherapy induced oral mucositis. Br J Cancer 1988;57:416-7.

332. Wadleigh RG, Redman RS, Graham ML, et al. Vitamin E in the treatment of chemotherapy-induced mucositis. Am J Med 1992;92:481-4.

333. Lopez I, Goudou C, Ribrag V, et al. Treatment of mucositis with vitamin E during administration of neutropenic antineoplastic agents. Ann Med Intern[Paris] 1994;145:405-8.

334. Lopez I, Goudou C, Ribrag V, et al. Treatment of mucositis with vitamin E during administration of neutropenic antineoplastic agents. Ann Med Intern[Paris] 1994;145:405-8.

335. Legha SS, Wang YM, Mackay B, et al. Clinical and pharmacologic investigation of the effects of alpha-tocopherol on Adriamycin cardiotoxicity. Ann NY Acad Sci 1982;393:411-8.

336. Pace A, Savarese A, Picardo M, et al. Neuroprotective effect of vitamin E supplementation in patients treated with cisplatin chemotherapy. J Clin Oncol2003;21:927-31.

337. Argyriou AA, Chroni E, Koutras A, et al. Vitamin E for prophylaxis against chemotherapy-induced neuropathy: a randomized controlled trial. Neurology2005;64:26-31.

338. Olson JA. Recommended dietary intakes (RDI) of vitamin A in humans. Am J Clin Nutr 1987;45:704-16.

339. Heywood R, Palmer AK, Gregson RL, Hummler H. The toxicity of beta-carotene. Toxicology 1985;36:91-100.

340. Xu MJ, Plezia PM, Alberts DS, et al. Reduction in plasma or skin alpha-tocopherol concentration with long-term oral administration of beta-carotene in humans and mice. J Natl Cancer Inst 1992;84:1559-65.

341. Gossage C, Deyhim M, Moser-Veillon PB, et al. Effect of beta-carotene supplementation and lactation on carotenoid metabolism and mitogenic T lymphocyte proliferation. Am J Clin Nutr 2000;71:950-5.

342. Leo MA, Lieber CS. Alcohol, vitamin A, and beta-carotene: adverse interactions, including hepatotoxicity and carcinogenicity. Am J Clin Nutr 1999;69:1071-85 [review].

343. Törnwall ME, Virtamo J, Haukka JK, et al. The effect of alpha-tocopherol and beta-carotene supplementation on symptoms and progression of intermittent claudication in a controlled trial. Atherosclerosis 1999;147:193-7.

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