Lycopene is a carotenoid. Carotenoids are natural color pigments that are found in red and other brightly-colored fruits and vegetables. Lycopene is also an antioxidant, which means it fights against free radicals that can damage cells in the body.
Lycopene is often taken to help prevent certain cancers.
Reasons to Take Lycopene
Because lycopene helps protects cells in the body, it can help to treat and prevent some common conditions. People often take lycopene to help prevent heart disease, cataracts and asthma. It is also taken to help prevent certain cancers:
• Prostate cancer
• Lung cancer
• Breast cancer
• Bladder cancer
• Ovarian cancer
• Colon cancer
• Pancreatic cancer
It is also used to treat the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) which is a common cause of uterine cancers.
Recommended Daily Allowance
There is no set dosage for daily intake of lycopene. The amount a person needs can depend on age, health, and other conditions. While no data is available to provide a specific range of doses, this does not mean that you can take as much lycopene as you want.
To make sure you are getting the right dose, follow label instructions on supplements and follow the advice of your doctor.
What If I Take Too Much?
You can take too much lycopene. While there are no set guidelines, it seems that taking over 15 milligrams a day can lead to some adverse reactions such as:
Too much lycopene can reduce your immune function, making you more susceptible to illnesses and disease. The only way to stop these side effects is to reduce your intake of lycopene. If you have questions about how much lycopene you need daily, discuss it with your doctor.
Who's At Risk for Deficiency?
At his time, there is no real definition of lycopene deficiency. If you believe you need more lycopene in your diet, there are ways to do so.
Eat more foods that contain this essential ingredient. Also, keep in mind that if you get your lycopene from tomatoes, your body absorbs it better when the tomatoes are cooked. If you make your own spaghetti sauce or tomatoes soup, you can help your body absorb more lycopene.
If you believe you aren't getting enough lycopene you can also take supplements to increase your daily intake.
Natural Food Sources of Lycopene
Tomatoes are one of the best sources of lycopene, and there are many others:
• Pink grapefruit
• Sweet red peppers
• Red (purple) cabbage
It's important to keep in mind that cooking foods that contain lycopene helps with absorption.
If don't like the food that rich in lycopene, you can take supplements. Most supplement come in 10 to 30 milligram doses. Your body can absorb the lycopene supplements just as easily as it does lycopene from foods. If you're unsure about dosage, discuss it with your doctor.