Lycopene helps with prostate health

Lycopene - the "tomato vitamin"?

What's behind the Lycopine advertisement?

Lycopene is said to have cell-protective effects due to its antioxidant properties. So it is advertised with the protection of the heart, eyes and prostate. In addition, it should protect the skin from harmful UV rays and thus prevent aging processes. According to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), there is insufficient scientific evidence for any of these claims. This is why the manufacturers of food supplements that contain lycopene often add other nutrients to their products for which health claims are permitted.

Only for a certain water-soluble tomato concentrate (Water Soluble Tomato Concentrate - WSTC I + II) the advertising statement "promotes normal platelet aggregation and contributes to healthy blood flow" is approved. Products that contain this water-soluble tomato concentrate must also bear the following consumer advice: "A positive effect can only be achieved if 3 g WSTC I or 150 mg WSTC II are taken daily as a dietary supplement, together with a glass of water or other liquid."

In individual studies, a connection between high tomato consumption and a reduced risk of cancer, especially for prostate, lung and stomach cancer, has been demonstrated. In the early stages of cancer development, tomato products suppress the conversion of previously damaged cells into cancer cells. In contrast, taking isolated lycopene, as found in dietary supplements, had no effect. Regardless of this, the disease-related advertising for food - and thus also for dietary supplements - is generally prohibited.

What should I watch out for when using food supplements containing lycopene?

Lycopene is one of the so-called secondary phytonutrients. There are currently no recommended quantities of intake for the desirable intake of secondary phytochemicals, including lycopene. The only exception is beta-carotene (vitamin A precursor). The limit value set by EFSA for the acceptable total daily intake of lycopene is 0.5 mg per kilogram of body weight. This value may be exceeded by certain population groups (e.g. preschool and school children) who consume large amounts of foods containing lycopene.

We would advise against the long-term, high-dose supply of isolated lycopene in the form of tablets, capsules, etc., as negative health effects cannot be ruled out if the intake exceeds the limit value set by the EFSA.

What is lycopene?

Lycopene is often advertised as a "tomato vitamin" even though it is not a vitamin at all. It is actually a carotenoid (yellowish to reddish color). The foods that contain lycopene are primarily tomatoes. Overall, the lycopene makes up about 90% of the total carotene content of the tomato and is mainly found in the peel. Good sources of lycopene are, for example, tomato products such as tomato paste, soups, sauces and juice. It is also found in watermelons, pink grapefruits, papayas, guavas and rose hips. In Germany, the lycopene intake is on average 1.3 mg per day.

Lycopene is heat-stable, so that a large part of it (up to 90%) is retained during cooking. In addition, the lycopene can be better absorbed by the body from heated and processed foods. Canned tomatoes contain almost twice the amount of available lycopene (around 10 mg / 100 g) compared to fresh tomatoes (5.8 mg / 100 g). The body's ability to absorb lycopene decreases with age.

In addition to lycopene, which occurs naturally in food, there is also lycopene from the Blakeslea trispora fungus, which is approved as a novel food ingredient, and synthetic lycopene. Both can be used in dietary supplements. In addition, Gac oil capsules made from the Vietnamese Gac fruit are also offered as a dietary supplement. In addition to lycopene, these also contain beta-carotene.

Lycopene is also approved as an additive E 160d in certain foods. So it is used for coloring z. B. used by pies, fish, crustaceans, fish and meat substitute products. Statutory maximum quantities of 100-500 mg per kilogram of the food in question must not be exceeded. The use of synthetic lycopene as an additive is prohibited.

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