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Medically reviewed on August 9, 2017.

Scientific names: psi, psi-carotene

Efficacy rating:

ÒÒÒ...Positive clinical trials

Safety rating:

...No safety concerns despite wide use.

What is Lycopene?

Lycopene is a common carotenoid compound found in fruits, vegetables, and green plants that is responsible for the red color of tomatoes. Other sources include apricot, cranberry, grapes, pink grapefruit, guava, papaya, peaches, and watermelon.

What is it used for?

The antioxidant activity of lycopene and its use in cancer prevention and cardiovascular disease have been widely documented.

What is the recommended dosage?

Lycopene administered as a pure compound has been studied in clinical trials at dosages of 13 to 75 mg/day. Lycopene is mostly available in capsule and softgel form, with dosage guidelines from manufacturers ranging from 10 to 30 mg taken twice daily with meals. Lycopene is also incorporated in multivitamin and multi-mineral products.

How safe is it?


Avoid if hypersensitive to lycopene or to any of its food sources, especially tomatoes. Tomato-based products are acidic and may irritate stomach ulcers.


Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking. The amount of lycopene in foods is assumed to be safe. Tomato consumption increases lycopene concentrations in the breast milk and plasma of breast-feeding women.


Lycopene interacts with some cancer chemotherapy agents, as well as with ciprofloxacin and olestra.

Side Effects

In general, tomato-based products and lycopene supplements are generally well tolerated. The scientific literature documents some GI complaints, such as diarrhea, dyspepsia, gas, nausea, and vomiting. One trial documented a cancer-related hemorrhage in a patient taking lycopene, although whether it was caused by lycopene was unclear.


No toxic effects were observed in rats treated with lycopene 2 g/kg/day for 28 days, an intake similar to approximately 200 mg of lycopene per kg of body weight per day in humans. Another 13-week toxicity study generated similar results.


  1. Lycopene. Review of Natural Products. Facts & Comparisons 4.0. St. Louis, MO: Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.; August 2009. Accessed August 6, 2009.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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