Lycopene provides the familiar red colour to fruits & vegetables, especially tomatoes, and is one of the major carotenoids in the diet. Previous research has linked this powerful antioxidant to a reduced risk of chronic diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.

The bioavailability of lycopene depends upon several factors such as food processing or the co-ingestion of fat.  Now, new research published in the British Journal of Nutrition has looked into the effects of dietary calcium…

An a small randomised crossover trial adults ate either: 1) a meal providing 19 mg of lycopene from tomato paste or 2) the same meal plus 500 mg of calcium carbonate in supplement form.  Blood plasma lycopene levels were measured regularly over 7 hours. The research team found that calcium (in the dose tested) reduced the bioavailability of lycopene by 83%.

These are important findings, given that carotenoids are inversely associated with chronic disease; further research is now needed to see whether calcium from foods sources can reduce lycopene bioavailability.

For more information, see: Borel, P et al. (2017) British Journal of Nutrition, Vol. 116, No. 12, pg: 2091-96.