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Beta-caroteno


¿Qué es?

El beta-caroteno es uno de los pigmentos de un grupo de pigmentos rojos, anaranjados y amarillos llamados carotenoides. El beta-caroteno y otros carotenoides proveen aproximadamente el 50% de la vitamina A necesaria en la dieta Americana. El beta-caroteno está presente en las frutas, verduras y granos. También se puede hacer en el laboratorio.

El beta-caroteno se utiliza para disminuir los síntomas de asma producida por el ejercicio; para prevenir ciertos cánceres, las enfermedades del corazón, las cataratas, y la degeneración macular senil (DMS); y para el tratamiento del SIDA, el alcoholismo, la enfermedad de Alzheimer, la depresión, la epilepsia, el dolor de cabeza, el reflujo, la presión arterial alta, la infertilidad, la enfermedad de Parkinson, la artritis reumática, la esquizofrenia y trastornos a la piel que incluyen soriasis y vitiligo.

El beta-caroteno también se utiliza en las mujeres desnutridas para disminuir las probabilidades de muerte y ceguera nocturna durante el embarazo, así como para la diarrea y fiebre después de dar a luz.

Algunas personas que se queman fácilmente con el sol, incluyendo aquellas con una enfermedad hereditaria llamada protoporfiria eritropoietica (PPE), usan el beta-caroteno para disminuir el riesgo de quemaduras solares.

Hay muchas autoridades – incluyendo la Asociación Americana del Corazón, la Sociedad Americana del Cáncer, el Instituto Mundial de Investigación del Cáncer en asociación con el Instituto Americano para la Investigación del Cáncer, y la Agencia Internacional para Investigación del cáncer de la Organización de la Salud Mundial – que recomiendan obtener el beta-caroteno de los alimentos y no de suplementos, por lo menos hasta que las investigaciones demuestran si los suplementos ofrecen el mismo beneficio. El comer 5 porciones al día de frutas y verduras provee 6-8 mg de beta-caroteno.

¿Qué tan efectivo es?

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database (La Base Exhaustiva de Datos de Medicamentos Naturales) clasifica la eficacia, basada en evidencia científica, de acuerdo a la siguiente escala: Eficaz, Probablemente Eficaz, Posiblemente Eficaz, Posiblemente Ineficaz, Probablemente Ineficaz, Ineficaz, e Insuficiente Evidencia para Hacer una Determinación.

La clasificación de la eficacia para este producto es la siguiente:

Eficaz para...

  • El tratamiento de la sensibilidad al sol en las personas que tienen una enfermedad hereditaria de la sangre llamada “protoporfiria eritropoietica”.

Posiblemente eficaz para...

  • Disminuir el riesgo de cáncer de mamas en las mujeres antes de la menopausia si se consumen frutas y verduras que contienen beta-caroteno. El beta-caroteno parece ser especialmente eficaz para las mujeres que tienen un alto riesgo de cáncer de mamas, incluyendo aquellas con un historial familiar y aquellas que usan alcohol en forma excesiva.
  • El tratamiento de una enfermedad de los ojos llamada degeneración macular senil (DMS) si se usa con otros medicamentos. El tomar 15 mg de beta-caroteno por vía oral junto con 500 mg de vitamina C, 400 IU de vitamina E y 80 mg de zinc elemental una vez al día, parece ayudar a prevenir la pérdida de la visión y el empeoramiento de la DMS en las personas con DMS avanzada. No hay suficiente evidencia de que esta combinación funcione en las personas con la enfermedad macular menos avanzada.
  • Prevenir las quemaduras solares en las personas que son sensibles a la radiación solar. Sin embargo, es poco probable que el beta-caroteno tenga mucho efecto en prevenir el riesgo de quemaduras de sol en la mayoría de las personas.
  • Evitar que una forma de artritis llamada osteoartritis empeore. Pero el tomar beta-caroteno no parece prevenir la osteoartritis.
  • Prevenir la bronquitis y dificultad para respirar en los fumadores. El beta-caroteno de la dieta parece ayudar, pero los suplementos de beta-caroteno no lo hacen.
  • Reducir el riesgo de cáncer de los ovarios en las mujeres después de la menopausia.
  • Reducir el riesgo, en las mujeres desnutridas, de mortalidad relacionada con el embarazo, de ceguera nocturna, de diarrea y de fiebre después de dar a luz.
  • Prevenir los ataques de asma debido al ejercicio.
  • El tratamiento de una enfermedad de la lengua llamada leucoplaquia oral.
  • Mejorar el rendimiento físico y la fuerza en la gente anciana.

Posiblemente ineficaz para...

  • La diabetes.
  • La prevención de ataques cerebrales en fumadores masculinos.
  • Prevenir las cataratas o el empeoramiento de las cataratas.
  • Prevenir la enfermedad de Alzheimer.

Probablemente ineficaz para...

  • Prevenir las enfermedades del corazón. Un consejero científico de la Asociación Americana del Corazón afirma que la evidencia que hay no justifica el uso de antioxidantes como el beta-caroteno para reducir el riesgo de enfermedades del corazón.
  • Prevenir el cáncer. El beta-caroteno no parece prevenir el cáncer uterino, el cáncer cervical, el cáncer de la tiroides, el cáncer de la vejiga, los cánceres a la piel (melanoma, carcinoma de células basales, carcinoma de células escamosas), el cáncer del cerebro y el cáncer a la sangre (leucemia). Sin embargo, ciertas investigaciones sugieren que una combinación de beta-caroteno con vitamina C, vitamina E, selenio y zinc podría reducir las índices de cáncer en los hombres pero no en las mujeres. Los investigadores especulan que los hombres tienen una menor ingesta de antioxidantes y por lo tanto podrían obtener un mayor beneficio de los suplementos.
  • Prevenir el cáncer al pulmón en los fumadores. El tomar beta-caroteno en realidad parece aumentar el riesgo de cáncer al pulmón en las personas que fuman (especialmente aquellas que fuman más de 20 cigarrillos al día), los ex-fumadores, las personas expuestas al asbesto y aquellos que usan alcohol (uno o más tragos por día) y además fuman. Sin embargo, el beta-caroteno de la dieta no parece tener este efecto.
  • Prevenir el cáncer de próstata. En la mayoría de los hombres, el tomar suplementos de beta-caroteno no parece prevenir el cáncer de próstata. Hay un poco de preocupación de que los suplementos de beta-caroteno podrían en realidad aumentar el riesgo de cáncer de próstata en algunos hombres. Hay evidencia de que hombres que toman una multivitamina más de 7 veces a la semana y también toman un suplemento separado de beta-caroteno tienen un riesgo significativamente mayor de desarrollar cáncer de próstata avanzado.

Insuficiente evidencia para hacer una determinación para...

  • El cáncer del colon y del recto. Las investigaciones muestran resultados contradictorios.
  • El cáncer del esófago. El tomar suplementos de beta-caroteno solos o en combinación con otros antioxidantes tales como vitamina A o vitamina E más vitamina C no parece reducir el riesgo de cáncer al esófago.
  • El cáncer pancreático. El tomar suplementos de beta-caroteno solos o en combinación con otros antioxidantes tales como vitamina A o vitamina E no parece reducir el riesgo de cáncer pancreático.
  • Los efectos secundarios de la quimioterapia. El aumento del el consumo de beta-caroteno de fuentes dietéticas parece prevenir algunos efectos secundarios en los niños sometidos a quimioterapia para un cáncer de la sangre llamado leucemia linfoblástica.
  • El SIDA.
  • El alcoholismo.
  • El síndrome de fatiga crónica (SFC).
  • La depresión.
  • La epilepsia.
  • El cáncer del estómago.
  • Los dolores de cabeza.
  • La acidez.
  • La hipertensión.
  • La infertilidad.
  • La enfermedad de Parkinson.
  • La psoriasis.
  • La artritis reumática.
  • La esquizofrenia.
  • Otras afecciones.
Se necesita más evidencia para aprobar al beta-caroteno para estos usos.

¿Cómo funciona?

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El beta-caroteno es convertido a vitamina A, un nutriente esencial. Tiene actividad antioxidante, lo que ayuda a proteger a las células para que no sufran daño.

¿Hay preocupación por la seguridad de su uso?

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El beta-caroteno es PROBABLEMENTE SEGURO si se usa para algunas condiciones médicas específicas y se toma en las cantidades apropiadas. Sin embargo, los suplementos de beta-caroteno no son recomendables para uso general.

El beta-caroteno es POSIBLEMENTE NO SEGURO en dosis altas, especialmente si se toma a largo plazo. Dosis altas de beta-caroteno pueden poner la piel de color amarillo a anaranjada.

Hay una creciente preocupación de que tomar altas dosis de suplementos de antioxidante tales como beta-caroteno puede causar más daño que bien. Algunas investigaciones muestran que el tomar dosis altas de suplementos de beta-caroteno podría aumentar la probabilidad de muerte en general y posiblemente aumentar otros efectos secundarios. Hay también preocupación de que tomar grandes cantidades de una multivitamina más un suplemento separado de beta-caroteno aumenta la posibilidad de desarrollar un cáncer avanzado de próstata en los hombres.

Advertencias y precauciones especiales:

Embarazo y Lactancia: No se tiene suficiente información sobre el uso del beta-caroteno durante el embarazo y la lactancia. Sea precavida y evite su uso.

Fumar: En las personas que fuman, los suplementos de beta-caroteno podrían aumentar el riesgo de cáncer del pulmón y de próstata. No tome suplementos de beta-caroteno si fuma.

Historial de exposición al asbesto: En las personas que han estado expuestas al asbesto, los suplementos de beta-caroteno podrían aumentar el riesgo de cáncer. No tome suplementos de beta-caroteno si ha estado expuesta al asbesto.

Angioplastia, un procedimiento al corazón: Hay un poco de preocupación de que el uso de vitaminas antioxidantes, incluyendo el beta-caroteno, podría producir efectos nocivos después de una angioplastia. Pueden interferir con la mejoría. No use beta-caroteno y otras vitaminas antioxidantes antes de una angioplastia sin la recomendación de su proveedor de salud médica.

¿Existen interacciones con medicamentos?

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Moderadas

Tenga cuidado con esta combinación

Medicamentos que se usan para bajar el colesterol (Estatinas)
El tomar, beta-caroteno, selenio, vitamina C y vitamina E juntos podría disminuir la eficacia de algunos medicamentos que se usan para bajar el colesterol. No se sabe si el beta-caroteno, si se toma solo, disminuye la eficacia de algunos medicamentos que se usan para bajar el colesterol.

Algunos medicamentos que se usan para bajar el colesterol incluyen a atorvastatina (Lipitor), fluvastatina (Lescol), lovastatina (Mevacor) y pravastatina (Pravachol).

Niacina
El tomar beta-caroteno, vitamina C, vitamina E y selenio juntos podría disminuir algunos de los efectos beneficiosos de la niacina. La niacina puede aumentar el colesterol bueno. El tomar beta-caroteno junto con estas otras vitaminas podría disminuir el colesterol bueno.

¿Existen interacciones con hierbas y suplementos?

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No se conoce ninguna interacción con hierbas y suplementos.

¿Existen interacciones con alimentos?

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Alcohol
El beber alcohol en exceso puede disminuir la acción del beta-caroteno en el cuerpo y aumentar el nivel de otra sustancia química llamada retinol. Los investigadores están preocupados de que esto puede aumentar el riesgo de cáncer. Pero, se necesitan más investigaciones para determinar si esta preocupación está justificada.

Olestra (substituto de grasa)
La olestra puede interferir con la acción del beta-caroteno en el cuerpo. En las personas sanas la olestra disminuye en un 27% la concentración de betacaroteno en el suero de la sangre.

¿Qué dosis se utiliza?

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Las siguientes dosis se han estudiado en investigaciones científicas:

POR VÍA ORAL:
  • Para la protoporfiria eritropoietica (PPE) la dosis está basada en la edad. De 1 a 4 años la dosis diaria es de: 60-90 mg; de 5 a 8 años: 90-120 mg; de 9 a 12 años: 120-150 mg; de 13-16 años: 150-180 mg; y para mayores de 16 años: 180 mg. Si después de estas dosis, las personas todavía permanecen muy sensibles al sol, el beta-caroteno se puede aumentar en 30-60 mg al día en los niños menores de 16 años y en hasta un total de 300 mg por día en las personas mayores de 16 años.
  • Para prevenir las quemaduras solares en las personas sensibles a la radiaciónsolar: 25 mg de beta-caroteno por vía oral diarios.
  • Para el tratamiento de la degeneración macular senil (DMS): 15 mg de beta Caroteno más 500 mg de vitamina C, 80 mg de óxido de zinc y 400 IU de vitamina E diarios.
La ingesta diaria recomendada de beta-caroteno no ha sido establecida porque no se ha hecho suficiente investigación al respecto.

Los suplementos de beta-caroteno están disponibles en dos formas. Una es a base de agua y la otra a base de aceite. Los estudios demuestran que la versión a base de agua parece ser absorbida mejor.

Otros nombres

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A-Beta-Carotene, A-Bêta-Carotène, Beta Carotene, Bêta-Carotène, Bêta-Carotène Tout Trans, Carotenes, Carotènes, Carotenoids, Caroténoïdes, Caroténoïdes Mélangés, Mixed Carotenoids, Provitamin A, Provitamine A.

Metodología

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Para saber más sobre cómo este artículo fue escrito, refiérase a la metodología metodología (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/spanish/druginfo/natural/methodology-sp.html) de la Base exhaustiva de datos de medicamentos naturales.

Referencias

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Para ver todas las referencias de la página de Beta-caroteno, por favor diríjase a http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/spanish/druginfo/natural/999.html.
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