A recent study that was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, which you can read here.
States that supplements are now linked to heart disease and stroke.
The supplement at fault is beta-carotene, but its not that brightly colored carrot that you think of when you hear “beta-carotene.” It’s the synthetic version of beta-carotene, that causes these problems.
The multivitamin myth
The majority of multivitamin and nutritional supplements are filled with synthetic or isolated fragments of vitamins. Not to mention the less than natural fillers that bind these supplements together, and this is certainly true for beta carotene, the precursor for vitamin A.
What most people don’t know are the dangers that come with ingesting synthetic beta carotene.
Natural Beta carotene
Natural beta carotene is one of the many brightly colored pigments found in fresh fruits and vegetables.
This carotenoid serves as a precursor to vitamin A, a vitamin essential for vision, skin health, immune function, and gene transcription (the first step in gene expression).
The great news about Natural beta carotene is that research has shown that the natural version of beta carotene benefits the body in many ways.
Protects aganist radiation posioning
Effect of natural beta-carotene supplementation in children exposed to radiation from the Chernobyl accident – PubMed (nih.gov)
A study published by the national institute of health shows the benefits of natural beta carotene. In this study 709 children (324 boys and 385 girls) were evaluated for radiation after Chernobyl incident.
Some 57 boys and 42 girls were given a basal diet with a diurnal supplementation of 40 mg natural 9-cis and all-trans equal isomer mixture beta-carotene in a capsulated powder form of the alga Dunaliella bardawil, for a period of 3 months.
Blood serum analyses were regularly conducted before supplementation to determine the baseline effect of radiation exposure to the children, after 1 and 3 months of natural beta-carotene supplementation.
After supplementation, the levels of the oxidized conjugated dienes decreased in the children’s sera without any significant changes in the level of total carotenoids, retinol or alpha-tocopherol.
The results suggest that irradiation increases the susceptibility of lipids to oxidation in the Chernobyl children and that natural beta-carotene may act as an in vivo lipophilic antioxidant or radioprotector.
Lower risk of Alzheimer’s
Dietary Intake of Antioxidants and Risk of Alzheimer Disease | Dementia and Cognitive Impairment | JAMA | JAMA Network
In the Rotterdam study the dietary intake of beta carotene was associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease among smokers.
Lower risk of breast cancer
Women With Higher Carotenoid Levels Have Reduced Risk of Breast Cancer | JNCI: Journal of the National Cancer Institute | Oxford Academic (oup.com)
An extensive analysis in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (2012) showed high dietary intake of carotenoids—including beta carotene—was strongly associated with a lower risk of breast cancer, particularly estrogen receptor negative (ER-) breast cancer.
Synthetic beta carotene
It is of no surprise that people taking synthetic beta carotene have negative health outcomes when the ingredients used to make it include petrochemicals and harsh solvents.
When you imagine beta carotene your mind conjures up images of vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, spinach, broccoli, kale, pumpkin, parsley and peas. But that is not where synthetic beta carotene comes from.
Instead the reality is synthetic beta carotene is manufactured from benzene extracted from acetylene gas (really, we’re not making this up). Benzene is a natural constituent of crude oil, and is one of the most basic petrochemicals.
Not only do these substances have no nutritional value, benzene is considered to be a carcinogen or cancer-causing substance.
Linked to lung cancer
The Effect of Vitamin E and Beta Carotene on the Incidence of Lung Cancer and Other Cancers in Male Smokers | NEJM
The Finnish Study, a double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in the New England Journal of Medicine gave over 29,000 male smokers beta carotene and vitamin E, to evaluate the cancer-protective benefits of the vitamins.
Surprisingly, the study authors discovered a HIGHER incidence of lung cancer (18%) in those receiving supplementation of beta carotene. And total mortality was 8% higher among those who received synthetic beta carotene than those who did not.
Linked to heart disease and stroke
Micronutrient Supplementation to Reduce Cardiovascular Risk – ScienceDirect
In the study that was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, researchers took a look at data from 884 previous studies that involved 883,627 participants. While analyzing the effects of various supplements—including omega fatty acids, magnesium, zinc, and others—they found that synthetic supplements formulated with the antioxidant beta-carotene were connected to a higher risk of both cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality and all-cause mortality.
How to spot synthetic supplements?
Unfortunately, most supplements don’t tell you if the vitamins listed are synthetic because they are not legally required to do so. Labeling laws allow companies to call a chemical isolate by the same name as the complete nutrition found in whole food, even though they function entirely differently in the body, but with a little conscious effort, there are ways you can tell.
If your supplement label says Vitamin A Palmitate, Retinyl Acetate or Vitamin A Acetate it is ALL synthetic.
unless its organic, non-gmo and non irradiated AND the whole food source is listed, it is SYNTHETIC.
5 Foods That Are High in Beta-Carotene
Stephen Clark at science direct says natural Beta carotene is a vitamin A precursor (retinol) and the most important of the provitamins A. The best way to consume beta carotene is to consume it in whole food form.
Lets take a look at 10 foods that have naturally occuring b-carotene.
1. Sweet Potatoes
Up to 226 mcg of beta-carotene per 1 g
I bet you expected to see carrots top this list of the best dietary sources of beta-carotene, get ready for a surprise: sweet potatoes beat carrots in terms of beta-carotene content. That is, as long as you go for the variety with dark red, or orange flesh. In a study published in the journal Food Chemistry, sweet potatoes with intense orange flesh were found to contain up to 226 micrograms of beta-carotene per one gram (on a fresh weight basis). In varieties with lighter orange flesh, the amount of beta-carotene was significantly lower, ranging from 11.8 mcg/g to 29.8 mcg/g.
2. Grape Leaves
161 mcg of beta-carotene per 1 g
According to USDA data, eating 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of raw grape leaves will provide you with a whopping 16.1 milligrams of beta-carotene.
Up to 121 mcg of beta-carotene per 1 g
microgreens such as cilantro, red cabbage, green basil, garnet amaranth and red sorrel – have been shown to contain even more beta-carotene than raw carrots.
83 mcg of beta-carotene per 1 g
A 100-gram serving (about 3.5 ounces) of raw carrots, for example, provides about 8285 micrograms of beta-carotene. To improve the bioavailability of beta-carotene from carrots, consider cooking the vegetables. A study that appeared in the December 2003 issue of the European Journal of Nutrition found that people absorbed significantly more beta-carotene from meals that contained cooked, pureed carrots than from meals that contained raw chopped carrots.
59 mcg per 1 gram
A 100-gram serving of raw dandelion leaves contains about 5.9 milligrams of beta-carotene, which makes them as good a source of beta-carotene as kale.