Lycopene

General Info

Absorbtion

Lycopene is efficiently absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract once it has been processed into juice, sauce, or paste. Heat processing renders lycopene more absorbable.

Dietary Origins

Large amounts of lycopene are found in guava, pink grapefruit, rosehips, tomatoes, and watermelon.

Overview

Lycopene is a cartenoid – a member of vitamin A family derived from plant sources. Lycopene does not, however, have vitamin A activity. It is the substance that gives tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables their red coloration. Under normal conditions, the collection of lycopene in human plasma is greater than other dietary carotenoids. Lycopene may also enhance various aspects of cellular and non-cellular immunity.

Toxicities & Precautions

General

Lycopene has no known toxicity or precautions.

Functions in the Body

Antioxidant:

Lycopene acts as a free radical scavenger.

Skin protection:

Lycopene protects the skin against ultraviolet light-induced erythemia (er-uh-thee-muh), abnormal redness, caused by oxidation induced by light.

Symptoms & Causes of Deficiency

Since lycopene is not an essential nutrient for humans, there is no deficiency condition associated with it. However, based on what is known about lycopene individuals whose diets are low in lycopene containing foods are at greater risk to cardiovascular disease, macular degeneration, and several forms of cancer.