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What Is Lycopene Extract?

Lycopene extract is often taken from the tomato plant.
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  • Written By: Sara Schmidt
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 13 April 2014
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Tomato lovers may already know the many lycopene benefits that are to be had from consuming the substance. Cancer prevention, cardiovascular health, and dozens of other advantages are linked to the red fruit pigmentation. For those who do not enjoy eating tomatoes, watermelon, or other lycopene-rich foods, but wish to reap their benefits, lycopene extract is available in other nutritional supplement forms.

As a dietary supplement, a person may take this helpful carotinoid in the form of a lycopene capsule, tincture, or powder. In powder form, the dietary aid is red-brown in color; its shade is similar when liquefied. The extract should be used as directed by product packaging. A typical serving contains nearly half an ounce (1,000 milligrams) of tomato extract.

One of the most compelling reasons why people use the nutritional supplement is the link between lycopene and cancer prevention. Colon, uterine, esophageal, pancreatic, prostate, bladder, and buccal cancers in particular may be prevented through use of the extract. Lycopene works by combating free radicals that attack human cells, which can cause cancer and other diseases. Some research indicates that the extract can also help people who already have tumors, slowing their growth and decreasing tumor size.

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Though most people who use lycopene do so for health reasons, it is also a popular beauty enhancement supplement. Some studies have shown that the extract may help reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. Lycopene may also help skin retain its elasticity.

Sometimes sold as tomato extract, lycopene extract is typically taken from the tomato plant. In addition to its cancer fighting properties, lycopene benefits also include protecting the epidermis from ultraviolet radiation damage, and staving off heart disease by regulating blood lipids and cholesterol levels. Lycopene extract is also thought to help boost the immune system and fight aging and general body wear and tear.

Scientifically known as Lycopersicum Esculentum, lycopene extract is usually low in cost and readily available in most health food stores. As an antioxidant, the carotinoid has been found to be 100 times as effective as vitamin E as well as three times more beneficial than B-carotene. For this reason, the extract is often applied in various other chemical compounds, health foods, and products. If stored in a cool, dry place, and out of direct sunlight, lycopene extract can last up to two years.

A natural extract, lycopene is considered safe for most people. People with known lycopene or tomato allergies should refrain from using the supplement. Though side effects are rare, people who take lycopene extract can experience loss of appetite, nausea, gas, diarrhea, cramps, and other uncomfortable symptoms. People with stomach ulcers should not use lycopene extract, as the supplement's acidity can cause irritation.

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