Lycopene is a derivative from tomatoes that is responsible for giving a ripe red color. Lycopene is an important and powerful antioxidant supplement in that it not only provides whole-body benefits, but also can help people with specific conditions like exercise-induced asthma, pre-eclampsia, prostate cancer, sunburn and macular degeneration. Taking a lycopene supplement can possibly help to prevent atherosclerosis, reduce your risk of cancer and improve immune function.
Lycopene's potent antioxidant activities may prevent oxidative stress and DNA damage. Because of its antioxidant activity, lycopene is being studied for its role in prostate, lung, pancreatic, and stomach cancer prevention. There are lower instances of heart problems in women who have higher lycopene levels, and a general decrease in cancers amongst cultures with high use of tomato pastes and sauces. Since lycopene has so many preventive benefits and no known overdose issues, it is a good supplement to add to your vitamin regimen. Here's how to choose a lycopene supplement:
- Identify your natural sources of lycopene and determine if you need more. Foods that contain lycopene include tomatoes, watermelon, pink grapefruit and guava, but it is generally poorly absorbed from fresh foods. Oddly, foods such as ketchup, tomato juice, tomato paste, and pizza sauce provide a more absorbable form of lycopene than do fresh tomatoes, so you can try to drink tomato juice and make tomato sauce more often. If you do not get enough lycopene via foods, you can easily add lycopene supplements to your diet via vitamins.
- Select your needed dosage for your medical requirements. Although the optimal dose of lycopene is not known, available research suggests eating 10 servings of tomato products per week, or 6-15 mg of lycopene daily for its general antioxidant benefits.
Doses vary when specific health conditions apply. For instance, for cancer protection, a minimum dosage of 6.5 mg per day is recommended. Regarding asthmatic conditions, lycopene supplementation was shown to help with exercise-induced asthma in those who took 30 mg/daily. Prostate heath concerns require 6 to 7 mg of lycopene daily. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should check with a doctor before using lycopene supplements.
- Determine price range. Lycopene is readily available at most drugstores and is contained in many multivitamins. Since there are no special considerations regarding quality or vitamins that need to be taken in tandem with lycopene to be effective, any vitamin brand you trust is an acceptable form of lycopene. There are several well-priced men's health multivitamins with lycopene.
- Check for side effects, allergic reactions and drug interactions. No adverse effects have been reported with the use of lycopene and there are no known drug interactions. Some substances such as cholestyramine, colestipol, mineral oil, and orlistat may decrease lycopene absorption if taken at the same time. Some vitamin capsules contain soy, yeast, wheat, sugar, salt, whey, gluten, nuts or shellfish; if you have an allergy to any of these items, you should double check the vitamin bottle label.
Now you know how to choose this health supplement. Start enjoying the lycopene health benefits today!