The results, published in the October issue of the European Journal of Nutrition, suggest that its Lycovit 10% beadlets are an equivalent source of lycopene to other products on the market.
The synthetic source is only recently available, although not in the European Union.
The lycopene market is expanding significantly, with growth rates forecast at over 100 per cent detailed in a new report on the carotenoids market from Frost & Sullivan. The report values the ingredient at $34 million in 2003, and with growing demand, new sources of the nutrient will attempt to lift this figure further.
Vitatene, a subsidiary of Spanish penicillin firm Antibioticos, has recently applied for novel foods approval to market lycopene extracted from the fungus Blakeslea trispora on the European market.
For the study, researchers recruited three groups of 12 healthy male and female subjects with a mean baseline serum lycopene concentration of 0.36 µmol/L. The first two groups took a dose of 15 mg of total lycopene daily for 28 days, from either Lycovit 10% beadlets or Israeli firm LycoRed's Lyc-O-Mato beads. A third group received a placebo.
Synthetic and tomato-lycopene both resulted in significant increases above baseline of serum total lycopene whereas no significant changes were found in the placebo treatment. The mean serum total lycopene response to synthetic and natural lycopene was not significantly different.
The authors conclude that synthetic and natural lycopene are equivalent sources of lycopene and that there is no interaction with other circulating carotenoids.
Lycopene is thought to protect against prostate cancer although the latest research suggests that it is not the only compound in tomatoes to play a role in this beneficial effect.