March 10, 2008, Updated September 13, 2012

Does beauty come from within? An Israeli company LycoRed seems to think so. But enhancing that inner beauty can be done with the help of Mother Nature, and a tomato-based extract produced by LycoRed that is designed to protect the skin against harmful UV radiation.

LycoRed’s cosmeceutical, Lyc-O-Mato, is already protecting European skin from the sun. Marketed in Europe by Inneov, a joint venture of L’Oreal and Nestle, and by the French company Oenobiol, it is only a matter of time before the Lyc-O-Mato dietary supplement will be available in the US, the company says.

The best estimate is within a year. Currently, tomato oleoresin, the raw material for the supplement, is being manufactured on a dedicated line in cooperation with Gan Shmuel Foods in Beersheva.

The company’s extract that works its magic on the skin to defeat anti-oxidants, belongs to the carotenoid family, and is extracted from LycoRed’s special breed of tomatoes. LycoRed has found through various studies that taken over time its extract can “shield” the skin from sunburn and the free radicals that lead to premature aging.

There is a growing amount of scientific evidence that points to the power of antioxidants found in tomatoes. In addition to sun protection, tomatoes may improve the immune system in general, and work to protect us from degenerative diseases such as cancer.

The carotenoid that LycoRed has extracted is made up of several elements: lycopene, phytoene, phytofluene and tocopherols (vitamin E). These natural phytochemicals from the tomato work in harmony to protect the skin from damaging UV radiation, says Zohar Nir, LycoRed’s VP of Scientific Affairs and VP of new product development.

While Lyc-O-Mato is not intended to be a sunscreen replacement, it can be a part of a person’s daily regimen to help maintain their skin beauty and elasticity, he tells ISRAEL21c.

The story of the Lyc-O-Mato extract and LycoRed goes back to 1995, when LycoRed was formed as a daughter company to the Israeli-based Makhteshim-Agan Industries, an agrofarming chemical company headquartered in Beersheva.

The search for new agrofarming-based products had started a few years earlier, when Makhteshim-Agan was looking to diversify its portfolio of products. After a long screening process, says Nir, the company focused on the red color found in tomatoes, to be used as both a wide spectrum antioxidant and also as a natural food coloring product.

Using the plant breeding wisdom of the late Prof. Raphael Frankel, a leading plant geneticist at the Volcani Center in Israel, LycoRed found it could create 200mg of a tomato’s red coloring (lycopene) from a special Israeli breed of tomato, versus the then industry standard of 80-90mg.

“It was like a world record in jumping – going from the highest known record today and jumping two meters higher,” says Nir. “It wasn’t easy.” Today the company is still offering the richer red variety and has its IP registered.

Beauty and cosmetics companies in Europe use the LycoRed preparation in a capsule, but it could also come as a fortified food supplement or in a beverage. In Israel, LycoRed’s special fortification as a nutritional supplement, already appears in dairy products – the You drink by Tara.

As an internal sunscreen, Lyc-O-Mato has been tested in a number of settings, including clinical studies done in Germany, reports Nir. The researchers used a biomarker for the reddening of the skin in response to sunlight.

After 12 weeks of oral nourishments with 10mg of lycopene they found that skin reddening – the process leading to sunburn – could be reduced by as much as 50 percent.

“Lyc-O-Mato is not just lycopene. It has other phytonutrients in it that make it special, effective and complex. Basically, all the goodies in the tomato are in the capsule – like a good red wine,” concludes Nir.

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Jason Harris

Jason Harris

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