Article

Lycopene, photoprotection and skin care: The benefits of organic quality

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Abstract

Excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light causes a photo-oxidative damage (photo-aging) that negatively affects human health and skin appearance. The endogenous supply with antioxidants and micronutrients may help preventing photo-oxidative damage of the skin. Carotenoids are important plant pigments involved in photosynthesis and photoprotection from excessive light. They are components of many foods and dietary supplements believed effective against skin photo-oxidation. The protective properties attributed to these compounds are mainly due to their powerful antioxidant activities and to other molecular mechanisms not yet fully elucidated. This is confirmed by several epidemiological studies showing that an adequate daily intake of lycopene and β-caro-tene containing foods or supplements efficiently protect the skin from photo-oxidative damages. Lycopene is, in fact, the more abundant carotenoid in plasma and tissues of the human body, including skin, where it exerts an effective action in detoxifying free radicals. In addition, supplements containing lycopene, along with other natural antioxidants, significantly improve skin texture. After 12 weeks of treatment, skin density and thickness increased of 7% and 15%, respectively. Positive effects were also demonstrated in wrinkles reduction. Lycopene currently available on the international markets is produced by chemical synthesis or extracted from vegetable sources (mainly tomatoes) using chemical solvents (natural lycopene). Clinical studies showed that dietary supplements made with natural lycopene are more effective than those containing synthetic lycopene probably for the presence of other bio-active molecules co-extracted from tomatoes, synergizing with lycopene in promoting the positive effects on human health. However, despite its name, natural lycopene is extracted from tomatoes using toxic organic solvents which may contaminate the end-product. Moreover, tomato berries and tomato by-products used for natural lycopene extraction are not subject to legislative restrictions and/or constrains. Thus, genetically modified tomato varieties (OGM) and berries containing residues of pesticides and heavy metals beyond the limits permitted for human consumption can, therefore, be used. The so-called organic lycopene, has recently been introduced on the international market. It is an innovative product extracted from tomatoes grown under organic regime, excluding the use of OGM and synthetic chemicals (fertilizers, pesticides, ecc.), by a technique that use supercritical carbon dioxide (CO2) as the only extractive solvent, avoiding, therefore, the toxicological, health and ecological risks related to the use, removal and disposal of conventional chemical solvents. Organic lycopene is, therefore, 100% natural, solvent-free and non-toxic. Since it is in the form of an over-saturated solution in a vegetable oil rich in unsaturated fatty acids, organic lycopene has excellent characteristics in terms of bioavailability. These characteristics make organic lycopene an excellent candidate to replace synthetic and natural lycopene as main ingredient in the formulation of a wide range of high-quality risk-less products, including specific dietary supplements for skin care and wellness.

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... Clinical studies showed that dietary supplements made with natural lycopene are more effective than those containing its synthetic form, probably for the presence of other bio-active molecules co-extracted from tomatoes, as which synergize with lycopene in promoting the positive effects on human health (Cazzola, 2012). However, the use of organic solvents for the extraction of natural lycopene may contaminate the end-product and facilitate the co-extraction of toxic chemicals including fertilizers, pesticides and heavy metals (Rescio et al., 2010). Several studies demonstrated the advantages of the lycopene added in a lipid matrix. ...
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