Prominent Nutrition Experts Convene to Evaluate Current Knowledge on Adequate Intake Levels of Beta-Carotene

SANTA BARBARA, Calif., March 19 -- Leading experts from around the world in the fields of nutrition, medicine and health met last week to evaluate current knowledge on the safety of beta-carotene intake, its benefits for at-risk populations, and the need for a consensus on tolerable upper intake levels among U.S. and European regulatory bodies.

The group noted that beta-carotene's beneficial antioxidant effects may be important for the elderly, and particularly for pregnant and lactating women. Recent research has also demonstrated that beta-carotene may be useful in limiting sunburn and skin aging effects caused by the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays.

"Beta-carotene is an indispensable micronutrient for the majority of the population because it is an important precursor of dietary vitamin A," said Professor Helmut Sies of the Institute for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Heinrich-Heine-University, Dusseldorf Germany, who acted as a co-moderator of the round table discussion. "However, continued research is needed to reach a consensus regarding acceptable daily intakes (ADI) and tolerable upper limits (UL)."

"The current available data may be confusing to consumers because of adverse effects found in at-risk groups such as heavy smokers and people exposed to asbestos," said Ute Obermueller-Jevic, scientific marketing manager for BASF Aktiengesellschaft (AG). "The scientists who participated in this meeting worked toward scrutinizing the information needed to develop sound recommendations for appropriate beta-carotene intake."

The conclusion of this meeting, hosted in conjunction with the Oxygen Club of California (OCC), will be submitted as a consensus document to a peer-reviewed journal, and will be summarized in a chapter in "Carotenoids & Retinoids," co-authored by Professor Sies and OCC founding president, Professor Lester Packer, Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Toxicology, School of Pharmacy, University of Southern California.

The XIth Annual Meeting of the OCC on Oxidants and Antioxidants in Biology is co-sponsored by the Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, and the Society for Free Radical Research International, and supported in part by BASF. Highlights from OCC's abstract presentations include:

* Lycopene and vitamin E may work together to inhibit the growth of
prostate tumors
* Higher intake of lycopene may be related to a lower risk of lung cancer
and cardiovascular disease in humans
* Supplementation with mixed carotenoids can effectively protect against
DNA damage in humans
* Role of carotenoids in eye health in relation to age-related macular

Founded in 1994, the Oxygen Club of California is dedicated to enhancing scientific exchange, and providing meetings, discussion forums and education at graduate and post-graduate levels. Topics of interest include free radicals in biological systems, oxidants and antioxidants in biology and medicine, micronutrients, nutrition and health.

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