Lycopene supplement boosts skin carotenoid levels

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Oral supplements of lactolycopene may boost skin levels of lycopene and beta-carotene, says a study from Nestlé and L’Oreal.

The increase in beta-carotene levels in the skin was described as “interesting”​ by the researchers, and was proposed to be due to the carotenoids acting as “protection chains”​ in the skin, state the researchers in the European Journal of Pharmaceutics and Biopharmaceutics​.

Commenting on the study’s findings Zohar Nir, VP new product development and scientific affairs at lycopene supplier LycoRed told NutraIngredients that work “is indeed important foundation in increasing the confidence of carotenoids' nourishment for skin protection purposes”.

“Accumulation of lycopene and beta-carotene in the skin provides protection against UVA &UVB radiation and is effective for a full day’s protection,”​ he added. Dr Nir was not involved in the study.

As an antioxidant, lycopene has been shown to have heart, blood pressure, prostate, osteoporosis, skin and other benefits in both natural and synthetic form and it has been commonly used in food supplements and cosmeceutical applications.

The study used lactolycopene, which is lycopene oleoresin embedded in a whey protein matrix.

Beauty of cosmeceuticals not skin deep

Led by Ulrike Blume-Peytavi from Berlin-based CRO the Clinical Research Center for Hair and Skin Science, the researchers performed a double-blind placebo-controlled randomised study with 25 volunteers with an average age of 25.7. The subjects followed a lycopene-deprived diet for four weeks prior to the study and then until the end of the study, and were given either lactolycopene (25 mg lycopene) or placebo for a further 12 weeks.

Using Raman spectroscopy, the researchers noted people in the lactolycopene group experienced significant increases in lycopene and, interestingly, beta-carotene levels in the skin.

“Thus, oral supplementation with lycopene led to an enrichment of beta-carotene in human skin, possibly due to the fact that carotenoids act in the skin as protection chains, with a natural protection against free radicals,”​ they wrote.

When comparing blood with skin levels, Blume-Peytavi and her co-workers noted that skin levels of lycopene were less sensitive to oral supplementation.

The researchers noted that this was “the first study proving the ability to monitor skin carotenoid levels using resonance Raman spectroscopy as a fast noninvasive diagnostic tool”​.

The science builds

The study adds to previous research published in the same journal, which reported that skin lycopene levels were correlated with skin roughness, a measure of skin ageing. (Eur. J. Pharm. BioPharm​., Vol. 69, pp. 943-947)

“Increasing dietary levels of lycopene through daily supplementation with tomato lycopene is an easy way to insure the continued presence of high skin levels of these protectant antioxidants and to help protect the skin from photo-damage and environmental pollutants, and to preserve the skin’s smoothness,”​ said Dr Nir.

Exceptional growth

According to data from market analyst Mintel, global food and drink products claiming to enhance beauty increased threefold over the past three years indicating a market ready to take off.

The growth in ‘beauty foods’ by far exceeds that of regular food and drink products, said the market analyst. Between 2005 and 2008, introductions of beauty-enhancing products increased 306 percent, compared to the 35 percent increase registered for the overall food and drink industry.

According to market research company Kline Group, the category was worth around $1.5bn in 2007, and expected to grow to $2.5bn by 2012. Overall, the global market for nutricosmetics grew over 10 percent in 2007.

The subject of antioxidants and skin health will be discussed in more detail at the upcoming conference, NutraIngredients Antioxidants 2010: Science, Testing and Regulation​. For more information about the conference, please click here​.

Source: European Journal of Pharmaceutics and Biopharmaceutics
Volume 73, Pages 187-194, doi: 10.1016/j.ejpb.2009.04.017
“Cutaneous lycopene and beta-carotene levels measured by resonance Raman spectroscopy: High reliability and sensitivity to oral lactolycopene deprivation and supplementation”
​Authors: U. Blume-Peytavi, A. Rolland, M.E. Darvin, A. Constable, I. Pineau, C. Voit, K. Zappel, G. Schafer-Hesterberg, M. Meinke, R.L. Clavez, W. Sterry, J. Lademann

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