Special Considerations

Smokers, teenagers, young adults, and those who ingest excess alcohol have been found to have lower plasma levels of carotenoids. It is uncertain if this is due to age, lifestyle choice, or because fruit and vegetable intake is generally poor in these individuals. Supplementing these at risk groups with carotenoid supplements has been shown to be beneficial; however caution is advised with smokers. As the CARET and ATBC studies found, cancer deaths increased when ( -carotene dietary supplements were given to smokers (although it is interesting to note that cancer deaths did not increase when they were supplemented with ( -carotene from food sources rather than from supplements).

Mineral oil, cholesterol-reducing drugs (such as cholestyramine and colestipol), the obesity drug Orlistat, Colchicine (used for treatment of gout), and regular use of plant sterol- or stanol-containing margarines have been shown to reduce carotenoid absorption from food sources and supplements. There is some evidence that alcohol may also inhibit ( -carotene conversion to retinol.

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