Where is it found?
Tomatoes and tomato-containing foods are high in lycopene. In the Harvard study, the only
tomato-based food that did not correlate with protection was tomato juice. In an unblinded, controlled trial,
lycopene supplementation, but not tomato juice, effectively increased the body’s
lycopene stores.1 These studies suggest that the lycopene present in tomato juice
is poorly absorbed. However, other research indicates that significant amounts of lycopene
from tomato juice can, in fact, be absorbed.2 Other foods that contain lycopene
include watermelon, pink grapefruit, and guava.
Lycopene has been used in
connection with the following conditions (refer to the individual
health concern for complete information):
Who is likely to be deficient?
This is unknown, but people who do not eat diets high in tomatoes or tomato products are likely to consume less
than optimal amounts.
How much is usually taken?
The ideal intake of lycopene is currently unknown; however, the men in the Harvard study
with the greatest protection against cancer
consumed at least 6.5 mg per day.
Are there any side effects or interactions?
No adverse effects have been reported with the use of lycopene.
At the time of writing, there were no well-known drug interactions
1. Paetau I, Rao D, Wiley ER, et al. Carotenoids in human buccal mucosa
cells after 4 wk of supplementation with tomato juice or lycopene supplements. Am J Clin
2. Paetau I, Khachik F, Brown ED, et al. Chronic ingestion of
lycopene-rich tomato juice or lycopene supplements significantly increases plasma
concentrations of lycopene and related tomato carotenoids in humans. Am J Clin Nutr