Beta-Carotene: Versatile Antioxidant and Vitamin A Source

A pervasive attitude with many consumers is that more is better. With a number of vitamins and micronutrients, the body is able to use what it needs and harmlessly expel the excess. However, this is not the case with fat-soluble vitamins, which accumulate in the body and can lead to toxicity. Vitamin A has been identified as a key nutrient and its use in supplements is on the rise. Yet the ingestion of too much vitamin A can have negative effects. The use of betacarotene is a safe, clean-label way for manufacturers to incorporate vitamin A into supplements or food and beverage products. It also functions as an antioxidant, quenching free radicals that damage cell membranes and DNA.

Vitamin A Advantages

Pure vitamin A can have toxicological effects if taken at levels higher than the RDI. As an alternative, beta-carotene is a safe source of vitamin A that the body draws from only as needed. If an individual has low vitamin A levels, more beta-carotene will be converted to vitamin A to raise that level. Utilizing beta-carotene as a vitamin A source reduces the risk of exposure to unsafe vitamin A levels.












Antioxidant Function

Vitamins A, C, and E are a potent antioxidant trio increasingly found in foods and beverages. Antioxidants are nutrients that protect against health-threatening free radicals, and recognition of their important role in human nutrition is becoming mainstream. Free radicals are implicated in more than 50 degenerative diseases, including cancer and heart disease. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals before they can attack healthy cells and cause damage. Each double bond along the length of the beta-carotene molecule provides antioxidant protection.

Formulator Options

Farbest supplies beta-carotene, whether extracted from the fungi Blakeslea Trispora or synthetically produced, is well suited for dietary supplement applications. Oil suspensions of 10%, 22%, or 30% are available for the formulation of soft gel capsules or use as multifunctional colorants in nutritional products. The vitamin

A potency for these oil suspensions meets a minimum of 166,700 IU/g, 366,740 IU/g, and 500,100 IU/g, For tablets and hard-shell capsules, nutritional formulators can select from a product range that includes powders and beadlets (10% and 20%). Powders are convenient, but often special equipment is required to ensure that the beta-carotene is evenly distributed throughout the product.

1% beta-carotene powder 60X magnification










The specially formulated beadlets contain fine droplets of the beta-carotene oil dispersion encapsulated as a free-flowing powder. The encapsulation matrix determines the functionality. Cold water dispersion applications require a matrix that dissolves quickly. Tableting applications often use a matrix that allows a slower release in the warm water environment of the gut. In addition, the encapsulation matrix of the beta-carotene beadlets maximizes stability and minimizes “bleeding” in direct compression tablets. Beta-carotene escaping from the beadlet matrix not only causes color to leach, but it also exposes the beta-carotene directly to the air at the tablet surface. This, in turn, causes oxidation and can reduce potency and shelf life.

Beadlets for Tableting Applications

Today’s high-speed tablet presses require product granulations to be uniform and free flowing. If bridging or “rat-holing” occur, a tablet producer may be faced with reducing the speed of the presses and losing productivity. Farbest’s beta-carotene beadlets for tableting applications are spherical and free flowing. Beadlets provide excellent compressibility and tablet hardness, allowing tablet formulators to achieve the targeted tablet hardness and the desired disintegration and release profile. In tablets made using the formulation below, Farbest beta-carotene beadlets provide the same long-term stability as those of the leading competitor.

Multivitamin Tablets With Iron Formulation for Beta-Carotene

(16,667 IU/g of Vitamin A Equivalents)



Beta-Carotene Beadlet 10% TAB Vitamin A Acetate Beadlet 500 TAB 15.75

Vitamin D3 Beadlet 500 TAB 5.93

D-alpha Tocopheryl Acetate Powder 700 TAB 54.50

Vitamin B12 0.1% SD 66.50

Pyridoxine Hydrochloride 2.70

Calcium Pantothennate 7.45

Ferrous Fumarate (32.87%Fe) 47.85

Niacinamide Free Flowing 18.20

Riboflavin Type S 3.58

Thiamine Mononitrate 2.50

Folic Acid 0.65

Ascorbic Acid Granulation (90%) 75.45

Microcrystalline Cellulose (Avicel® PH102) 60.20

CaH2PO3 30.75

Corn Starch 18.00

BITRIT-1 16.02

Magnesium Stearate



















Total Tablet Weight (mg)



























For tablets and hard-shell capsules, Farbest’s 10% and 20% beadlets provide a minimum of 166,700 IU/g and 333,400 IU/g of vitamin A, respectively. While the use of gelatin is standard in the industry, Farbest’s beta-carotene products are also available in veganfriendly, gelatin-free versions to better meet formulation challenges.


For more information on Farbest’s beta-carotene products, please visit http://www.farbest.com/beta-carotene.asp.

This White Paper posted with permission to NutraSolutions.com June 2011