Lycopene in Supplements: Origin, Benefits
In the pursuit of a healthy and balanced life, more and more people are turning to dietary supplements to complement their diet. Among the many beneficial nutrients and compounds, one that has gained recognition recently is lycopene. In this article, we will explore the origin, benefits, and come to a conclusion about its use in dietary supplements.
Origin of Lycopene
Lycopene is a carotenoid, a natural pigment responsible for the red or pink color found in many plant-based foods. Its presence is particularly highlighted in tomatoes, but it is also found in other fruits and vegetables such as watermelon, papaya, guava, and pink grapefruit. Although the human body cannot produce it on its own, it can be obtained through diet or through supplements.
Lycopene and the Mediterranean regions
This carotenoid is naturally found in various food sources, including tomatoes and tomato-based products. While lycopene is present in different regions worldwide, tomatoes and tomato products grown in the Mediterranean region are recognized for their particularly high lycopene content.
The Mediterranean diet, characterized by a high consumption of fruits, vegetables, olive oil, fish, and legumes, has been extensively studied and associated with several health benefits, including a reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases and certain types of cancer. It has been suggested that regular consumption of tomatoes and tomato products, common in the Mediterranean diet, may contribute to these beneficial effects due to their lycopene content.
The Mediterranean climate, with its warm sunny days, can provide favorable conditions for cultivating high-quality tomatoes. Sun-ripened tomatoes often contain higher levels of lycopene, contributing to their reputation for being rich in this compound.
It’s important to note that while the Mediterranean origin has been associated with tomatoes and tomato products high in this carotenoid, lycopene is also present in other regions and in foods such as watermelon, pink grapefruit, and pink guava.
Benefits of Lycopene
- Antioxidant Power: Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect our cells from damage caused by free radicals. These unstable molecules can contribute to premature aging and various chronic diseases, such as heart disease and certain types of cancer.
- Cardiovascular Health: Numerous studies have shown that regular consumption of lycopene is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases. Lycopene helps lower blood pressure, reduces LDL cholesterol levels (the “bad” cholesterol), and improves blood vessel function, contributing to heart health.
- Cancer Protection: Lycopene has been extensively studied for its potential in preventing certain types of cancer, such as prostate, lung, stomach, and breast cancer. Its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties are believed to play a significant role in reducing the risk of developing these diseases.
- Eye Health: Lycopene also shows promising protective effects on eye health. Recent research suggests that lycopene may reduce the risk of age-related eye diseases, such as macular degeneration and cataracts. Its antioxidant power helps neutralize free radicals and protect ocular tissues from damage caused by oxidative stress.
- Skin Benefits: Lycopene can be beneficial for skin health. It helps protect the skin from the harmful effects of ultraviolet radiation, reducing redness and inflammation caused by sun exposure. Additionally, lycopene may contribute to maintaining hydrated skin and promoting elasticity.
Lycopene in Supplements: Dosage
The dosage of lycopene used in dietary supplements can vary depending on the manufacturer and the specific goal of the supplement. However, a daily dose ranging from 5 to 30 milligrams (mg) of lycopene is generally recommended.
It’s important to note that lycopene is a fat-soluble nutrient, which means it is better absorbed when consumed alongside a source of fat, such as olive oil or avocado. Therefore, some lycopene supplements may contain a small amount of fat to enhance its absorption, such as the product TEMPLO by neeo.
The inclusion of lycopene in dietary supplements offers a convenient option for those who want to harness its benefits in a consistent and controlled manner. These supplements can provide a concentrated dose, ensuring adequate intake for desired results.
It’s important to note that dietary supplements should not replace a balanced and nutritious diet but rather complement it. Lycopene is just one of the many essential nutrients our body needs to function properly. Therefore, it is recommended to take a holistic approach to health, including a varied and balanced diet, regular physical activity, and overall healthy lifestyle habits.