In populations that consume low amounts of vitamin A, which is only found in animal products such as liver, egg, fish a sufficient intake of beta-carotene, as provitamin A carotenoid, is essential in preventing vitamin A deficiency (1). Vitamin A deficiency has been associated with abnormal visual adaptation to darkness (night blindness), dry skin, decreased resistance to infections, and other symptoms.
Vegetarians and vegans who consume exclusively plant derived carotenoids and who have a genetic predisposition associated with beta-carotene cleavage should be cautious and consume more than average beta-carotene. In such cases a supplement is recommended.
Pregnant and lactating women, especially after multiple pregnancies, are at risk to develop vitamin A deficiency. In addition to a well-balanced diet a beta-carotene supplement can improve their vitamin A status.
Above average intake of beta-carotene may improve health, but smokers should limit their intake from all sources to 10-15mg/d.
Authored by Dr Peter Engel in 2010, reviewed and revised by Dr. Adrian Wyss on 10.10.17.