Supplement maker Wyeth Consumer Healthcare said today it has added lycopene to its Centrum branded vitamins.
The antioxidant, to be added to both Centrum and Centrum Silver, is found primarily in tomatoes as well as in certain other fruits such as pink grapefruit and watermelon. Emerging studies suggest lycopene is one of the ingredients in tomatoes that may help reduce the risk of heart disease.
The addition of lycopene to the existing A to Zinc formula provides a more complete group of the carotenoid-antioxidant nutrients (lycopene, lutein and beta-carotene), according to Wyeth. One tablet of Centrum with lycopene provides 300 mcg of lycopene. The formula also contains vitamin E, and the B vitamins. Centrum is not intended to provide your daily intake of lycopene.
"Lycopene is an essential anti-radical that helps protects the body's cells," said Dr David Heber, director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition. "Since the body cannot produce lycopene, it is essential to get adequate amounts through diet. A multivitamin is a nutritional safety net there for those days our diet doesn't hit the recommended daily intake of vitamins and minerals and other nutrients from fruits and vegetables."
The American Heart Association estimates that 61 million Americans have one or more types of heart disease and it is the leading cause of death in the US. However fewer than one in five men consume the minimum recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables a day and only one in four women eat five servings a day. Inadequate intake and subtle deficiencies in several vitamins are risk factors for chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and osteoporosis.
A survey commissioned by the company based on interviews with around 1000 adults to measure awareness of lycopene, cardiovascular health and heart disease risk reduction found that almost two thirds (64 per cent) of adult Americans said they do not eat tomatoes on a daily basis, the major source of dietary lycopene found in the average diet.