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What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

What is Lycopene?

Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant found in tomatoes and pink grapefruit. Like the better-known supplement beta-carotene , lycopene belongs to the family of chemicals known as carotenoids. As an antioxidant, it is about twice as powerful as beta-carotene.

Some but not all observational studies suggest that foods containing lycopene may help prevent macular degeneration , cataracts , cardiovascular disease , and cancer . 1 However, observational studies are highly unreliable means of determining the effectiveness of medical treatments; only double-blind studies can do so, and few have yet been performed that relate to these potential uses of lycopene. (For more information on why double-blind trials are so important, see Why Does this Database Rely on Double-blind Studies? )

The best study of lycopene thus far evaluated its possible benefits for pregnant women. 2 Participants in this double-blind study of 251 women received either placebo or 2 mg of lycopene twice daily. For reasons that are not at all clear, use of lycopene...

Safety Issues

Lycopene is believed to be a safe supplement, as evidenced by the fact that researchers felt comfortable giving it to pregnant women. 3 One evaluation of the literature concluded that long term use of lycopene should be generally safe in doses up to at least 75 mg per day. 4

Note: We suggest that pregnant women should consult with a physician before taking any herbs or supplements.

Maximum safe dosages for young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease have not been established.