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Beta carotene Part 2There is enough evidence to convince most researchers that a diet rich in carotenoids plays a major role in preventing heart disease, strokes, and lung, stomach, and cervix cancers. Carotenoids, especially beta-carotene, also help prevent cataracts and Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) by absorbing free radicals before they can damage the eye.
Recent studies indicate that while beta-carotene supplements may form a strong component of a longevity or health mined diet regimen, additional disease-fighting benefits may be obtained from carotenoid-rich foods. This may be because, unlike betacarotene supplements, foods containing beta-carotene also provide the body with fiber and other antioxidants such as alpha-carotene, lycopene, zeaxanthin and lutein carotenoids.
Of course, when it comes to nutrient supplementation, certain individuals may find they obtain greater, or fewer, benefits from specific micronutrients. Case in point, there have been some studies that indicate beta-carotene supplements may do more harm than good to smokers.
Beta-carotene doesnít have an established Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA), but the National Cancer Institute suggests that you get at least 6 milligrams of beta-carotene each day. Although carotenes are found in almost every fruit and vegetable, few people take in the suggested amount, and thus miss out on the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber found in carotenoid-rich foods. In addition, alcohol, birth-control pills, cigarette smoke, some cholesterol drugs, and methotrexate, a drug used to treat arthritis, psoriasis, and cancer, block beta-carotene absorption in the body.
If you are not a smoker, canít find a way to include more fruits and vegetables in your diet, or think you may need to supplement your carotenoid intake for some other reason, stick to supplements containing natural beta-carotene or a natural carotenoid complex. A carotenoid complex contains beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, and other carotenoids. One ingredient to look for is Betatene, a trade name for a type of carotenoid complex extracted from sea algae, which is used in various supplements. It is also important to keep in mind that beta-carotene works best when combined with adequate amounts of vitamin E, zinc, and selenium, so people wishing to increase the amount of beta-carotene in their diet should make sure to get enough of these substances as well.
Return to Beta carotene, part 1
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