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Beta-carotene can be converted into vitamin A in the body and for this reason is also called provitamin A. While the so-called preformed vitamin A compounds (see also: vitamin A) are found in animal-source foods, beta-carotene (as well as other carotenoids) is found in plant-based foods. Above all, yellow and green vegetables and yellow and orange fruits, especially carrots, spinach, pumpkin, red peppers as well as apricots and mangoes, are rich in beta-carotene. As a colouring agent, beta-carotene is used in a variety of foods and beverages. In addition, it is also added to normal foods for nutritional purposes, for example in so-called ACE drinks. 

Beta-carotene has an antioxidant effect. In addition, immunostimulatory effects have been described. However, the only function of beta-carotene that has been proven for humans is its vitamin A activity. According to the available data, beta-carotene intake via the diet in Germany is within the desirable intake levels of 2-4 milligrams (mg) per day mentioned by the nutrition societies.

In intervention studies, a daily intake of 20 mg beta-carotene in the form of supplements over several years led to an increased lung cancer rate in men and women who smoke heavily or work with asbestos. Whether a similarly high intake of isolated beta-carotene could also pose a risk for non-smokers has not yet been sufficiently investigated.

Proposed maximum level for the addition of beta-carotene to food supplements (per daily dose of an individual product):

Beta-Carotin Höchstmenge


In order to provide consumers with significant additional nutrient intake via food supplements when needed and at the same time protect well-supplied people from excessive intake, the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) recommends not adding more than 3.5 mg beta-carotene per daily dose to a food supplement.



Eine Initiative des BfR:

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