Lycopene Benefits, Signs of Deficiency and Food Sources


The word lycopene is derived from neo-Latin Lycopersicum, one of tomato species. Lycopene is a bright red carotene and carotenoid pigment or phytochemical present in tomatoes and also other red fruits and vegetables such as watermelons, red carrots, papayas and gac. Chemically lycopene is a carotene but does not possess any Vitamin A activity. Foods with not red color such as parsley and asparagus contain lycopene.

In algae, plants and other photosynthetic organisms, lycopene is an intermediate in biosynthesis of various carotenoids such as beta-carotene responsible for orange, yellow and red pigmentation, photoprotection and phytosynthesis. Similar to carotenoids, lycopene is a tetraterpene. It is insoluble in water.

Dietary sources

Food name Weight (g) Lycopene (µg)
Tomatoes 54 24787
Vegetable juice 254 18082
Rose Hips 127 8636
Guavas 165 8587
Watermelon 154 6979
Papayas 145 2651
Grapefruit 230 2610
Acai berry drink 266 2391
Catsup 17 2051
Sweet peppers 106 513
Mamey sapote 175 348
Japanese persimmon 168 267
Asparagus 242 58
Apricot 266 53
Rutabagas 140 20
Red cabbage 89 18
Vegetable broth 221 15
Feijoa 243 12
Coleslaw 91 6
Mangos 165 5


Health Benefits of Lycopene

  1. Strong antioxidant

Antioxidants are essential for various reasons in order to prevent and combat disease. As an antioxidant lycopene is familiar to all of us for it’s incredible properties. The antioxidant properties of lycopene assure the body from damage coaxed by pesticides.

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is another harmful chemical with common side effects such as flushing, headache, numbness, facial pressure, sweating, weakness and nausea. Study on 2016 shows that lycopene helps to protect cells by inhibiting apoptosis when MSG signaled to brain.

Besides this, lycopene is also helpful for treating candidiasis commonly known as yeast infection. Literally lycopene apoptosis to infecting fungal cells. It is effective for candidiasis in mouth or also vaginal yeast infections.

  1. Neurological problems

Studies have discovered that intake of lycopene in adequate amounts on regular basis could delay the onset of brain and neurological ailments such as vascular dementia, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. This nutrient helps to prevent destruction of brain tissue caused often by oxidation.

  1. Stroke prevention

Foods rich in lycopene inhibit formation of blood clots resulting stroke. Latter this could lead to debilitate health so taking precautions is highly recommended in this context.

  1. Strengthen immunity

Nutritionists recommend consuming foods which encloses immunity strengthening properties. Lycopene delight us with its ability to stimulate defense mechanism of the body. When people are healthy, immune system activates by preventing it from falling prey to infectious bacteria.

  1. Vision health

Macular degeneration is the major cause for blindness across the world. It is recommended to incorporate foods rich in lycopene to diet in order to prevent onset of eye diseases.

  1. Alleviate bone problems

Women with adequate intake of lycopene on regular basis could alleviate weak and thinness of bones which eventually leads to osteoporosis. In addition, it is better to consult primary care provider in the case of severe bone pain and inflammation.

  1. Manage glucose levels

Study revealed that intake of lycopene is beneficial for type II diabetic patients by controlling glucose levels in bloodstream.

  1. Prostate health

Study shows that lycopene is the natural way to cure prostate cancer. It is revealed that intake of diet enriched with lycopene controls cancer cells proliferation. More studies are required to claim this.

  1. Cholesterol balance

Imbalance level of cholesterol results in various cardiovascular problems. However, lycopene is not expected to prevent LDL levels but assist in preventing clogging in arteries.

  1. Cure infertility

Lycopene is recommended to consume on regular basis as a treatment for infertility problems in short time span especially in men. No evidence is available suggesting it is beneficial for treating infertility issues in women. However, it is recommended to consult with doctor before self-medication.

  1. Supports hair growth

Lycopene is regarded as a natural source for hair growth. Studies concluded that intake of 2 to 3 serving of fruits and vegetables enriched with lycopene vitalizes scalp health eventually resulting to rapid growth of hair.

  1. Scalp health

Scalp ailments could disassemble overall hair condition. Taking lycopene daily helps to forbid psoriasis, scalp tenia and dermatitis.

  1. Cures skin redness

Lycopene is found to be helpful for skin condition such as erythema. In addition, it soothes patched and rough skin by revitalizing dead skin cells.

  1. Slows down aging

Body transforms lycopene into retinol which is an essential vitamin for preventing early signs of aging. Retinol is familiar for its melatonin and collagen production which promotes skin elasticity and maintain skin health.

  1. Ultra violet damage

UV rays are the rivals of skin exposed as these rays could cause redness, burn and irritation especially people with sensitive skin. Generally dermatologists recommend to incorporate organic fruits with carotenoids such as lycopene which is a boon for skin preventing from possible damages caused by the sun.

Besides this, various beauty brands also incorporate this nutrient to skin care products as it ensures overall health and prevents UV rays damage. As much as possible one should include products with lycopene to beauty regimen for maintaining toned and smooth skin.


  • Lycopene is considered to be safe when obtained from foods.
  • Excessive intake of lycopene-rich foods causes a temporary orange hued skin discoloration known as lycopenodermia. But it is not dangerous and skin color comes back to normal after reduction of consumption.
  • There are no known risks from taking large quantities of lycopene. Excessive lycopene intake has been linked to temporary orange-hued skin discoloration called lycopenodermia, but it is not dangerous and skin color returns to normal after reduction of intake.
  • Some side effects are reported on high intake of lycopene which includes nausea, diarrhea, gas, stomach pain or cramps, loss of appetite and vomiting.
  • Lycopene may interact with other medications including blood thinners such as blood pressure, warfarin, alcohol, blood pressure lowering medicines and nicotine.

Signs of  Deficiency

Lycopene not being a precursor of vitamin A, signs of vitamin A deficiency could not be applied. Literally, immediate signs of deficiency are not discovered but with an inadequate intake of lycopene and other carotenoids in general period of time could lead to onset of chronic ailments such as heart disease as well as various cancers. With so many potential causes for these conditions, it is not compulsion to associate them with a lycopene deficiency definitely.

Other facts

  • Though lycopene are found in red colored foods, cherries and strawberries do not contain lycopene.
  • Lycopene being fat soluble, multivitamin containing this nutrient is taken with food with fat.



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