Lycopene

LYCOPENE SOURCES

Lycopene is a carotenoid, a group of compounds present in many fruits and vegetables. There are more than 750 types of carotenoids in nature; however, only 20 of these have been found in human blood and tissues. The carotenoid most often present in human blood is lycopene, followed by β-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin.

Red-ripe tomatoes and their derivatives are the main source of lycopene , furnishing approximately 85% of all lycopene in the human body. The amount of lycopene in tomatoes depends upon the variety of the fruit, its stage of ripening, and other environment and cultivation factors. Usually, the content of lycopene in red-ripe tomatoes is 30-80 mg/kg of fresh product, but it could be more than 150-300 mg/kg in some selected species obtained by traditional hybridization techniques.

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PROPERTIES OF LYCOPENE

Like other carotenoids, lycopene has a strong antioxidant power. The antioxidants are able to contrast the destructive action of free radicals in the human body (which are seriously dangerous for the cells and tissues); they carry out a basic protective and preventive function against various diseases. Free radicals are by-products of cellular metabolic processes of the body. They play an important role in a number of biological processes, some of which are necessary for life, such as the intracellular killing of bacteria. However, high quantities of free radicals could be very dangerous for the human body. Because of their extreme reactivity, free radicals can participate in deleterious side reactions resulting in cell damage. The targets of the destructive action of free radicals are the cellular components such as membrane lipids, nucleic acids and proteins.

Many types of cancers are probably the result of interactions between free radicals and DNA, resulting in mutations that can adversely affect the cell cycle and potentially lead to malignancy. Free radicals may also be involved in Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, arthritis, diabete mellitus, dermatitis and other degenerative diseases. Some of the symptoms of aging such as atherosclerosis are also attributed to the oxidation of many of the chemicals constituting the body induced by free radicals.

Since free radicals are required for life, the body has a number of mechanisms to reduce their negative action and to repair damage which does occur such as the enzymes superoxide dismutase, catalase, glutathione peroxidase and glutathione reductase. These endogenous systems need to be supported by the introduction of exogenous antioxidants with the diet which can play a key role in strengthening these defence mechanisms.

The main antioxidants introduced with the diet are: carotenoids (lycopene, β-carotene, lutein, etc.), vitamins (A, C, E) and polyphenols (tannins, flavonoids, anthocyanins, etc.). An antioxidant acts in synergy with others, in a sort of regenerative chain or protection mechanism. Moreover, each antioxidant has a specific action on one or two free radical species, so it is important a complete and balanced diet in order to introduce a large range of antioxidants.

 

IMPORTANCE OF LYCOPENE

Recent studies and scientific publications have demonstrated that lycopene has a significant antioxidant activity, twice higher than β-carotene and 10 times higher than vitamin E.

Antioxidants act against the damage caused by free radicals, protecting the body and preventing several diseases. Lycopene seems to be important in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases (atherosclerosis, hypertension, infarction, etc.), many types of cancers (pancreas, digestive system, breast, liver, prostate), neuro degenerative diseases (Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s), osteoporosis, diabete mellitus, male infertility, skin diseases (due to UVA-UVB rays), senile macular degeneration. Lycopene is one of the most important antioxidant in human health and wellness. Since the human body cannot synthesize lycopene , it must be introduced eating fruits and vegetables or dietary supplements. Most of the commercially available supplements contain lycopene which has been chemically synthesized or extracted from red-ripe tomatoes by the use of chemical solvents. In both cases, the final product contains residuals of solvents, which are toxic for the body.

 

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SYNTHETIC, NATURAL & ORGANIC LYCOPENE

Synthetic lycopene is obtained by a chemical process, which involves chemical solvents and synthetic raw materials. This process gives a final product containing toxic and dangerous chemicals.

Natural lycopene is extracted from red-ripe tomatoes or tomato pomace (skins) (free of restriction) by chemical solvents, but it may contain traces of impurities and chemical solvents, which are toxic for the body even in traces.

Organic lycopene is different from the others, it is extracted from red-ripe organic tomatoes by an innovative procedure that does not involve chemical solvents, but supercritical carbon dioxide (SC-CO2). This process led to a final product 100% natural and organic certified (Certification No. IT BIO 006 PL0328).

US FDA –  SYNTETIC, NATURAL & ORGANIC LYCOPENE