The study, conducted by researchers affiliated with the Leibniz Research Institute for Environmental Medicine in Germany and the Ninewells Hospital and Medical School in the UK, was funded by lycopene specialist Lycored. The test materials used in the study also came from the company.
They found that “carotenoid-rich tomato nutrient complex is a safe and well-tolerated nutritional supplement suited for significant protection from UVB-induced erythema [redness] formation and UVB-induced upregulation of IL6 and TNFα,” two inflammatory markers.
However, when assessed solely by visual grading, no significant difference was noted between the supplement and placebo groups, the researchers added.
Results were published in the March 2019 edition of the journal Skin Pharmacology and Physiology.
For the 17-week study period, 149 healthy volunteers completed the study. They were randomized into two groups, going through a five-week ‘washout’ phase followed by a 12-week intervention phase receiving either the tomato complex supplement or MCT placebo.
At the end of each phase, the researchers assessed redness formation, UVB irradiation, and conducted a chromametry (to measure redness), biopsies (only to willing participants), and blood collection.
They analyzed whether or not changes in redness as well as upregulation of molecular markers associated with inflammation correlated with carotenoid blood levels.
Sunscreen health claims for supplements?
Sun protection claims are controversial in the supplements space. In the US, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent warning letters last summer to supplement companies that made sunscreen claims.
“We’ve found products purporting to provide protection from the sun that aren’t delivering the advertised benefits. Instead they’re misleading consumers, and putting people at risk,” FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb said at the time.
Stakeholders in the dietary supplements industry agree that supplement products should not advertise that they can be used in lieu of topical sunscreens.
In many Latin American countries, declaring health claims on packaging and marketing materials is restricted in the first place, which is the case for the region’s giant markets like Mexico and Brazil.
FURTHER READING: LATAM’s regulatory landscape: From Argentina to Uruguay
Source: Skin Pharmacology and Physiology
Published online ahead of print, https://doi.org/10.1159/000497104
Tomato Phytonutrients Balance UV Response: Results from a Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Study
Authors: Groten K, et al.