Supply situation

The amount of beta-carotene intake varies widely and is not normally distributed in the population. The majority of people in developed countries consume in the range of 1–2 mg per day, which is below the recommended intake.

In Europe, the estimated average intakes of beta-carotene from food sources are reported to be in the range of 1.5–1.8 mg/day (41).

According to the first German National Consumption Study, the average total intake of beta-carotene is just 2 mg/day, with half of the population below the average intake, and about one quarter with less than 1 mg/day (42), which is significantly below the recommended intake (43). The second German National Consumption Survey estimated a mean intake of 4.5 mg beta-carotene/day (44), which is in strong contrast to other studies from Germany and Europe (41).

A large portion of average total beta-carotene intake is derived from colored food (1–2 mg/day), mainly fruit-based drinks (45, 46). No data are available on the consumption of food and drinks fortified with beta-carotene.

According to calculations of trade associations, the highest intake of beta-carotene via fortified beverages in "heavy users" in 2006 was 2–3.5 mg/day. In 1998, a health survey by the ‘Robert-Koch-Institute’ showed that about 1% of the respondents took a dietary supplement containing beta-carotene (47). The average dose of beta-carotene was 1.6 mg/day. 0.06% of all interviewees specified taking more than one supplement containing beta-carotene.

In the U.S., approximately 26% of vitamin A consumed by men and 34% of vitamin A consumed by women is in the form of provitamin A carotenoids, mainly beta-carotene (1). It has been calculated that the amount of beta-carotene presently consumed in the U.S. is about 1.5 mg daily, which would be below the recommended intake, and far below the dose that may produce adverse effects in smokers (20 mg/day).

Authored by Dr Peter Engel in 2010, reviewed and revised by  Dr. Adrian Wyss on 13.10.17.