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Am J Clin Nutr. 1994 Sep;60(3):430-6.

Interactions between alcohol and beta-carotene in patients with alcoholic liver disease.

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Section of Liver Disease and Nutrition, Bronx VA Medical Center, NY 10468.


We found lower plasma beta-carotene concentrations in alcoholics than in control subjects, but heavy drinkers (> or = 200 g/d) had about twice the beta-carotene of those drinking less (P < 0.01), with a significant correlation between plasma beta-carotene and alcohol intake (r = 0.6, P < 0.001). When beta-carotene beadlets (30-60 mg/d) were administered to hospitalized alcoholics given controlled diets, those with cirrhosis had a much lower plasma beta-carotene response than those without; the latter in turn responded with lower beta-carotene concentrations than did control subjects. Plasma retinol, alpha-tocopherol, and other carotenoids, such as lycopene, did not differ significantly. We concluded that plasma beta-carotene is relatively increased by heavy alcohol consumption, whereas in patients with liver damage, especially cirrhosis, it is lowered. In these patients, beta-carotene supplementation may be justified, but this should be coupled with control of drinking because of possible hepatotoxic alcohol-beta-carotene interactions.

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