The lycopene vitamin or cartenoid, like vitamins A, D, E & Beta-Carotene, is fat soluble meaning when oil is added to the diet the absorption of the lycopene mg is improved. Although chemically lycopene is a carotene, uncharacteristically it has no vitamin A activity, also like some vitamins lycopene is not an essential nutrient for humans, it is however commonly found in the diet and absorbed.
Recently around the world people have been known to buy lycopene vitamins which are a lycopene extract to supplement someone’s diet. Although natural lycopene is recommended the anti-cancer and health benefits of lycopene mean even the extracted lycopene is worth taking. It is recommended that people take between 25 & 75 mg of lycopene each day with one cup of tomato juice containing approximately 20mg of lycopene. Lycopene like any other vitamins must be taken in moderation, too many lycopene vitamins can lead to lycopene side effects & a non-toxic condition which is known as lycopenodermia. This condition occurs with prolonged or excessive cartenoid intake (for example excessive consumption of tomato juice). The skin and liver take on an orange-yellow colour, excess lycopene vitamin occurs in the blood and the skin likely gets discoloured. Luckily after 3-4 weeks of a lycopene free diet the skin returns to normal.
Lycopene vitamins & lycopene supplements are as yet an unproven health benefit. Although many researchers have been labelling it as a new anti ageing secret with remarkable benefits there are still many scientists that think lycopene extract and lycopene extraction are a waste of time. Companies like Nature Made can guarantee the purity of the lycopene vitamin but must sell the product with a warning that it has yet to be evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In November 2005 the FDA cast significant doubt on the potential for lowering disease risk but stated that eating whole tomatoes does provide a benefit to the prevention of prostrate cancer – perhaps because of an as yet undiscovered compound being the beneficial agent. The FDA however did permit a limited claim to be used on tomatoes and tomato products.